The Host’s new invasion of the body snatchers
I T’S based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, but writer/director Andrew Niccol says The Host is not another Twilight.
The sci-fi romance was penned by Meyer in between writing the Twilight books and became a best-seller before Niccol got his hands on it.
The New Zealand-born filmmaker says the two are ‘‘very different animals’’.
‘‘I hope the audience embraces it and doesn’t go in expecting it to be Twilight,’’ Niccol says.
They are similar in one respect – they both feature a love story.
Although in this case, Niccol says there’s not so much a love triangle as ‘‘a love rectangle’’.
Confused? Well when the hero Melanie is taken over by alien host Wanda, unlike all the other humans, her spirit survives and both struggle to co-exist in the same body. Adding to the confusion – they both love different people.
‘‘I don’t know how (Stephenie) will top herself next, maybe she has to do a love pentagon or something,’’ Niccol jokes.
That could be a possibility, with Meyer announcing she will write another two books for The Host.
‘‘I think it’s supposed to be a trilogy,’’ Niccol says, adding he would ‘‘definitely’’ like to tackle the other books too.
Niccol is better known as the brains behind original stories such as The Truman Show, Gattaca and In Time, rather than adaptations. Reading The Host changed all that. ‘‘I thought this was a very clever idea,’’ Niccol says. ‘‘We always talk about internal conflicts, but here’s a story where it’s literally true.
‘‘You have two spirits in one body basically at war with each other.’’
Playing those two parts, Melanie and Wanda, is Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. (Niccol says the best way to remember how to pronounce her name is to say ‘‘surfer’’ but with a ‘‘sh’’, like ‘‘sursher’’.)
The problem both actress and director faced was that in Meyer’s book offers two sets of thoughts conversing in one mind. How to make that work on the big screen? What Niccol decided was that Ronan would record all of Melanie the human’s lines and speak all of Wanda the alien’s lines.
Then he put a hidden earpiece in Ronan’s ear to play her Melanie’s dialogue, so she could, quite literally, have a conversation with herself.
‘‘The very eerie thing is that no one else on the crew or the cast could hear the voice in her head, so she was sort of wandering around the desert babbling to herself,’’ he says.
‘‘She looked like some babbling homeless man we decided.’’
The Host opens today.
Max Irons and Saoirse Ronan in The Host.