Saoirse Ronan spends much of her time onscreen in The Host playing two characters, who incidentally occupy the same body. “I talk to myself so much anyway that it was just like a normal day for me. So it was a very natural thing for me to talk to myself,” Ronan said to Movie Fanatic about the film’s biggest challenge.
The Host is the first non-Twilight Saga story from author Stephenie Meyer and follows what happens when a mysterious alien race invades our planet and peacefully takes over almost every soul. A few have managed to avoid possession and they are part of a small, but passionate, resistance. Among them is Melanie (Ronan). One night, she gets cornered on the upper floors of a building, and rather than be captured, she jumps out the window.
Only, she doesn’t die and they implant the alien… who will be nicknamed Wanda. Most times, the transplant erases all memory of the person they were before. But, with Melanie, she’s still in there and it is there that Ronan has to do double duty and the inner fight for her soul and the resistance is born.
“The two of them are so different, so it wasn't too difficult,” Ronan admitted of playing the two characters simultaneously.
“It's very much set out in the book and in the script who these characters are and what their traits are. Melanie is so feisty and has such a mouth on her. She's a real fighter. She's very human and Wanda isn't. She's very kind of serene and positive about things -- always keeps her composure. I enjoyed playing Wanda a lot because of that. With her, you had to keep everything controlled just because it's not in her character to do that.”
Having Meyer on The Host set proved priceless for Ronan, especially considering how complicated the process could be bringing the story from page to screen.
“She's very supportive and never imposes herself too much. She was always on set, and I think more than anything, for me anyway, because I became so close to her personally and consider her a friend, I felt like I could go to her and talk to her about the characters and about the film or even just talk to her about any worries that I had,” Ronan said.
“I'm sure she was like that for the Twilight guys as well. She's not your typical author who either just hands their book over and steps back completely or is never happy with anything that the film production does. She understands that sacrifices need to be made when a book is being adapted to a script. And now she's a film producer. She's more than just the author of the book. She's very much there to support the whole filming process.”
As teased in The Host trailer, the clearest sign that one is possessed by an alien is the circular glow in one’s eyes. For the actors, that meant some serious contact lenses. “I have really sensitive eyes and I hated them,” Ronan said and laughed.
The Irish actress got used to them, but it wasn’t easy. “I tried them on, and because there was a silver ring painted and there's like a little pinpoint hole in the middle of the lens, you've got tunnel vision basically. I couldn't see anything in front of me for the first day or so, and I was really worried. But, my eyes adjusted within a couple of days. Still, it was pretty cray-cray," she said, laughing.
There is also romance at the heart of the movie, shown off in this The Host final trailer -- this is a Stephenie Meyer story after all -- although it is not a love triangle, a la Edward, Bella and Jacob. This time out, there are three people, but four souls. Ronan reported that everyone involved was trying to come up with what to call it.
“We're saying it's a love square. Or a love rectangle, or I think a love parallelogram is another,” Ronan said and laughed. “I quite like that one. It's kind of impressive. So yeah, you can take your pick -- as long as it has four sides!”
For the first time in her career, Ronan had a say in casting. After all, these two actors were going to both have to have a connection with her in very different ways.
“Obviously it wasn't just down to me, but I was delighted they asked me to come in because it was important that we had chemistry. One of the things that I was very adamant about was that, OK, I know that they have to be attractive-looking guys and all, but the most important thing is that they're able to play the characters fully and really bring them to life,” Ronan said. “Thank God we found that with Jake (Abel) and Max (Irons).”
Meyer is already planning on two more books in her The Host series. Ronan is ready to revisit the world again, although story quality will make the decision for her. “If the script was right, I think that's always the most important thing,” she admitted. “I wouldn't just want to do a sequel just for the sake of it. It would be great to carry on.”