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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Interview

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Recent Young Adult adaptations like The Series of Unfortunate Events, Eragon, and Percy Jackson have been less than inspiring, mostly because they deviated so much from the books that key elements were lost in translation. After speaking with Lily Collins (Clary Fray), Jamie Campbell Bower (Jace Wayland), and, author of the bestselling series, Cassandra Clare, it’s evident that City of Bones will stand among the ranks of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Simply because of unprecedented author involvement. Clare said, “[The producers] definitely invited me to be a part of the process. I was very hands on with the casting, and had a veto power, which is very unusual. I was very involved with production and the look of the movie and somewhat involved with the screenplay. I feel like I know the film pretty intimately, but they certainly invited me to be part of it more than they were required.

“There were a few things where I told them ‘you need to add this in, this will be important later’ or ‘you can’t cut this, if you remove it, it will backfire if there are sequels.’ The first day I showed up, they showed me Jace’s outfit, and it was a vest and what not with runes on it. And I told them they couldn’t use one of the runes, because it hasn’t been invented yet!”

In fact, she took careful consideration when selling the rights to her film. Robert Shaye is the executive producer of The City of Bones because Clare was so impressed with the work he did on The Lord of the Rings! The latter was met with critical acclaim, so here’s hoping they can recreate that magic for The City of Bones.

All of them seem committed to doing the story justice, especially Lily and Jamie. Lily “was a fan before [she was cast].” One of the things Lily likes most about Clary is her relationship with her mother. She says, “For a book to portray a somewhat typical mother-daughter relationship—you know, getting home early even though you want to go to the mall… normal! That mother daughter loyalty that isn’t normally shown—it’s mostly a mom trying to relate to her daughter, not the daughter trying to find her mom. [Clary] is so passionate and never victimizing herself.”

Jamie, however, showed even more vigor, especially since he’s aware of the negative reaction the fans have had to his casting choice. He said, “The majority [of the reaction] was negative, but I think there’s always going to be a preconceived notion of a literary or historical figure that people are going to have in their minds and that’s what I’m aspiring towards to exceed people’s expectations. I’m really appreciative I got this role, and I put 120% into everything I do and I really respect the source material. I guess I’ve seen more positive reaction [since the trailer], but we’ll see more when the movie comes out. I hope I made [the fans] at least somewhat proud.”

Fans have always been attracted to stars that are fans themselves. Part of the reason Jennifer Lawrence is so popular is because she’s been described as down to earth, and really takes fans’ issues into account. By talking about how actresses’ weight doesn’t matter, how she freaks out in excitement when stars say hi to her, and how she takes her acting seriously because there just aren’t enough women in strong roles, we’re instantly drawn to her.

There has been a long outcry of the lack of female representation in media, and Lily and Cassandra have really taken that into account.

Lily said, “In general, I’m attracted to roles where I find a strength in the women even if they’re incredibly weak. Clary finds herself in a situation where she’d rather swim than sink. Instead of doing the teenage “well, I’ll just let things happen,” she propels the story forward. I wanted whoever to play Clary to show that strength and to show weakness and have it be okay to show weakness. Everyone is confused at some point, especially when we’re young teenagers growing into adults, especially a young woman: body image, personality, guys, your family. We all go through that. It was more important for me to make Clary someone that everyone feel like they could also be—it wasn’t just “Lily being Clary.” It’s less about being a role model for these girls, and it’s more saying, you can all be Clary, it’s not just me.”

Clare said, “I didn’t take into account that people wanted stronger women characters, so much as I felt that people needed stronger female characters. In fact, I was somewhat unsure that I would be able to have a successful franchise that was surrounded by a girl. Before Twilight came out, the biggest names in Young Adult fiction were Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, which are both very boy-centered. I wanted to do an epic coming of age story, a story about good and evil, with a girl at the center because I didn’t have that growing up. When I went to sell the movie, I got told people don’t want to see movies about girls, and would I consider flipping the gender? I said absolutely not.”

It’s baffling that Hollywood is still saying people don’t want to see movies about girls. It’s even more infuriating that they would ask to change such an integral part of the story because they don’t think it would sell with a female protagonist.

Turns out, they were wrong about another thing as well. When Clare originally went to sell her story, she was told “teenagers didn’t want to read about werewolves and vampires.”

City of Bones comes out August 21!

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