The Host’s new in­va­sion of the body snatch­ers

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS - – CARIS BIZ­ZACA

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.

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