Lily Collins describes how The Mortal Instruments differs from Twilight and ‘The Hunger Games’ in her Teen.com interview.
Spoiling fans of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has become a pastime for us at Teen.com. (Have you read our interview with Jamie Campbell Bower yet?) So, to continue with our hobby, were presenting Shadowhunters with our interview with star Lily Collins straight from the Toronto set. See what she says about latching onto her character, Clary Fray, working with her TMI castmates, and the comparisons to Twilight and The Hunger Games.
Teen: What was your reaction when you were first approached with this role?
Lily: I was actually a fan of the series before I was cast. Ive always loved fantasy books. Even just growing up, Ive always kind of loved magic and fantasy. Having read the books and being really familiar with Clary, and just kind of admiring her as a character, when Screen Gems originally approached me for it, I had just done Priest. It was kind of some of the same team that was part of that project. I was thrilled. I was, like, a fan, so a fan being cast as a heroine that they admired. Then it took about almost two years for it to actually happen. I think it went through the process of changing hands and new people involved. I think everything happens for a reason because the team we got together for this is so amazing. Everyone has brought something new to the table. Harald [Zwart] is the ultimate director for this project because its so not really his genre, but hes all about character and emotion. And its taking the project that could have been so CGI-based, and all based on the physicality and the way it looks, and hes made it a story about real people in this fantasy world. Its a story that can stand on its own, but also as an adaptation of a book. Thats been the nicest surprise as weve been filming, to see how it came to be. But yeah, just a fan cast. Its pretty cool.
Teen: Since youve been attached for so long, has the script changed?
Lily: The script has changed multiple times. We get rewrites very frequently. One thing I wasnt expecting on this project is how collaborative it is with the actors and Harald. If we get sides of a scene and were like, I dont know if this flows as well as wed like it to in this emotional scene, or Its a little sticky here, hes like, Well, what do you want to say? And its like, Well, maybe something along these lines. Hes like, Great, lets try it. So were kind of able to reword our own scenes as we go to see how things flow in the moment, especially with new actors coming in like [Jonathan Rhys Meyers]. Lena [Headey] is coming in soon and Jared Harris. Weve all been really collaborative in that sense. And then also having Cassandra [Clare, the author] here to help clean up things that need to be fine-tailored and stuff.
But I think Clary has become way more proactive since the beginning, since the first script. She really fuels a lot of the scenes. Its less about being thrown all this information and floundering. She gets thrown a lot of information now and shes actively pursuing an outcome. I really liked that about her in the books. I felt like shes gotten stronger and stronger in the rewrites.
Teen: Having the author on set, has that been helpful for you at all?
Lily: Yeah, no it was funny. I was cast, I think December 2010, and I never had talked to Cassie. We hadnt had any contact. Then, I just met her the Friday or Saturday before we started filming. So it was like this big lead up and it was, like, the creator was there a couple of days before filming, so of course I had questions. I almost didnt want to pry too much into certain questions I had about certain scenes, because I wanted to see how organically it would flow. But I didnt realize how much shed be on set, so its been really great to have her here, see her reaction to stuff and to have her input on the way we are changing up certain scenes for film. Just really hearing her laugh and her enthusiasm on set is really awesome. Shes the creator of this fantasy and its an honor to have her here and have her blessing on things. When youre a fan of something, the person that created it is the be-all and end-all, so its great to have her be here and work with Harald and all the producers.
Teen: Obviously, theres a lot of other young adult-based stories with female heroes. (i.e. The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc.) How is your character different?
Lily: Because literally, every five minutes, she gets told something that she thought was true, was a lie. Shes thrown a new twist literally every five minutes and its this constant battle against herself of, How do I overcome this? The end result is to find her mom and her bond with her mom is what takes her through the entire story. No matter what gets thrown her way, nothing is stopping her. Because everything she is being told is based on her past and her family, I think its a really personal story for her to get to the end. She meets all these people along the way that end up helping her, but its really a story about self-discovery. And because its based on a series of books, really focusing on the first one, this is when she finds out that shes not who she always thought she was. Shes dealing with creatures that shes never even believed in or thought existed. Shes got this new superhero power with the runes and being able to see people that no one else can. Shes a teenager growing up trying to discover herself. Thats enough of a worry. Now she has to find out shes a Shadowhunter. So I think what makes her different is just this sense shes constantly finding out new information about herself that she thought was a lie. And its how she gets through those to find her mom in the end that makes this a self-discovery story. And she doesnt rely on any guys, but the guys end up helping her discover herself more.
Teen: You just did a scene with your on-screen dad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Lily: Hes so intense. Yeah, Jonathan, oh my gosh.
Teen: Going from such intensity to laughing in between takes, whats it like popping in and out of that?
Lily: Its crazy. When youre doing scenes like this, this is my second scene Ive done with Jonathan, and the one I did a couple of days ago last week, is when I first met him. Its this extremely fearful situation. Im totally vulnerable whereas today, its more of Ive come back to fight him. But both times, it involves crying and smacking around. Its the most heightened situation in the movie. Then yeah, you yell Cut, and its like Are you okay? Just playing around and fake fighting and stuff Its nice to be able to have that because its rare that on a set where you have emotional scenes like this, that the other person will want to interact normally with you afterwards. Hey, sometimes you need your space and you go off and do whatever you need to do to get into the scene. But with this movie, all the cast have an amazing rapport. No matter if were laughing in a scene and then we continue laughing after, or its a crazy stunt-action done at four in the morning, where they are pulling me up a fire escape and Im bruised and bloody and then afterwards, were like Ha ha! That was fun! It actually makes it really cool because were all going through this together. Even someone like Jonathan, who is so incredible and so intense and so seasoned, he still likes to have fun as well. And that makes it a really group experience and very family-like. He is playing my dad, so its kind of funny at the same time to be like hes beating me up, but then hes like Oh, hey daughter It makes it fun.
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