Saorise Ronan on being the new Stephenie Meyer heroine(s) in ‘The Host’
Talking to herself comes naturally to young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, so her dual roles in “the Host” weren’t really that daunting. In the film — based on “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer’s novel — Ronan plays a human named Melanie living in a future where alien parasites have come to earth and lodged themselves in the brains of humans, taking over their bodies and fixing the planet in the process. Melanie gets implanted, leading to the alien Wanda take over her body, but with one complication: Melanie doesn’t go away, remaining as a rather upset voice in Wanda’s head.
That means a good amount of the movie consists of Ronan having conversations with her own voiceover. “That was a big question for me when I was going into it was how we were going to do this,” Ronan says. Eventually, she and director Andrew Niccol settled on an earpiece that would transmit Ronan’s prerecorded Melanie dialogue on Niccol’s cue, something none of Ronan’s co-stars could hear. “I talk to myself so much anyway that it was just like a normal day for me,” she says. “So it was a very natural thing for me to talk to myself.”
While Meyer’s mega-hit vampire series revolved around a love triangle between a human girl, a vampire and a werewolf, she clearly felt the need to up the complexity factor for her follow-up. In “the Host,” Melanie has a boyfriend (Max Irons) from before she becomes inhabited, which becomes more of a problem when another human survivor (Jake Abel) becomes interested in Wanda — while she’s inhabiting Melanie’s body. So what exactly do we call a situation like that? It’s not exactly a love triangle anymore. “We’re saying it’s a love square,” Ronan says. “Or a love rectangle, or I think a love parallelogram is another. I quite like that one. It’s kind of impressive. So yeah, you can take your pick. As long as it has four sides, you know.”
And when it came to filling out that love parallelogram, Ronan even had some say in casting her co-stars. “I mean, obviously it wasn’t just down to me, it was more Stephenie and Andrew’s decision and the producers’, but I was delighted they asked me to come in because it was important, I guess, that we had chemistry,” she says of the process of bringing onboard Irons and Abel. “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 to life and not just be someone who’s a good-looking guy, you know? And thank God we found that with Jake and Max.”
Dueling vampires Saoirse Ronan has grown close to her “the Host” author and producer, Stephenie Meyer, since signing up to bring Meyer’s latest teen heroine from page to screen. Some might think, then, that Ronan’s choice to star in a rather un-”Twilight”-like vampire movie, “Byzantium,” might pique Meyer’s interest. “She hasn’t seen it yet, actually. I think she told me that she wants to see it, but I haven’t really talked to her too much about it,” Ronan admits. “I mean, when I said to her it was a vampire film, she was like, ‘Really?’ But I was like, ‘It’s not Twilight! It’s a different one, I swear!”
It is different indeed. From “Interview with the Vampire” director Neil Jordan, “Byzantium” offers Ronan and Gemma Arterton as bloodsucking vagabond sisters who take up residence in a rundown seaside town and open a brothel. And while Ronan’s undead teen may find herself grappling with young love and lust, there’s no love triangle to be found.