The Mortal Instruments City of Bones Press Conference Interviews

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones opens on 21st August, based on the bestselling fantasy book series by Cassandra Clare. Stars Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower and Robert Sheehan joined director Harold Zwart in London for a press conference with fans.  Read a full transcript of the entire press conference here:

Harold as a director, was the fact that the film has such a strong female lead one of the things that attracted to you to this project?

You could say that Karate Kid was a bit for my son and this one was a bit for Stella my daughter. She needs some good role models. She’s way too young to see the movie, but she saw it before the monsters were added so she loved it then. Now I think she’s going to be a bit terrified!

People ask me didn’t you consider your audience before you made it, but I really wanted to make a great movie that I’d enjoy watching too. I think to dumb things down just because people are younger… I don’t think I’d do that. I think they can take quite a few things. I think audiences are much more sophisticated than when I was younger. Which isn’t that long ago by the way! I think people like to be scared. I was constantly thinking what would I show my own kids, I think it’s fine so long as there’s not too much gore and blood, or girls in jeopardy which I think can get too boring after a while. I think they can absolutely take a few good jumps and I was inspired by the exorcist and the thing. I love the idea of something evil cracking apart and trying to reassemble itself. I just tried to make it as realistic as possible.

Lilly what attracted you to the part of Clary?

I guess the fact that Clary is very normal. She cries, she’s confused and she’s going through an identity crisis. I know I sure did that and I don’t know if anyone really gets over it. But she embraces that and she fins the strength in her weaknesses. She’s ends up kicking major butt and hanging with the guys, but all the while still having those very feminine young girl moments that make her very real. It’s about this journey she goes on, but never losing sight of how she actually is very normal as well. I think it’s too easy to play it very superhuman, but that’s not relatable to a normal person. But that’s what really drew me to her.

Jayce is a very cool character was it a fun role for you Jamie?

Yeah he’s everything that I’m not basically. You know performance is always a very cathartic process for me and I’m not particularly cool. Put it that way! He was great character to play. It was tough; I put a lot of work and a lot of effort into it. A lot of the characters that I’ve played beforehand have been let’s say soft or rounded physically. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on what way you look at it, you have the book and there’s a guy thee with his shirt off and he’s looking pretty buff and pretty hench. So I had to get into that sort of physical shape. But I’ve always liked to push myself and challenge myself in some way, shape or form. I quite like that because I get bored easily without that. I have quite a short attention spans as I think you can probably tell. It was fun and it was difficult. Honing my skills in terms of stunt and fighting was a real joy. But I did come out the other side groaning.

Robert was Simon a fun character for you to play?

There’s always comedy to be juiced from being the guy at the back of the group who isn’t doing any of the slaying, who’s doing all the cowering. Also tumbling into this world and being the normal eyes on this very very abnormal world. You get to frown and ask “What the hell is going on?” every five or ten minutes. The audience do in truth need someone like that. It’s my character and it’s also Lily’s character Clary. We’re very much the normal people tumbling into this crazy world. But yeah it was lovely fun. The good thing about Simon was Harold (the director) saying it’s got to be real. My instinct tends to be towards performance (gives crazy jazz hands), towards gesticulating wildly in every other direction. You may have seen it in my other works…  But it was the director reining me back saying it has got to be absolutely real. This guy is very normal, somewhat elitist and bookish. It was a new discovery for me; it was very fun and very enjoyable.

Lily, some of the locations are amazing, did you have a favourite set?

The first one that I remember was when my jaw actually dropped, which was very reminiscent of the scene actually. Jamie opened the door to the institute library for the first time for me to see it and I stood there with my mouth open just like Clary. I was a huge fans of the books before I was cast and you automatically imagine what it’s going to look like and for me it was absolutely hands down exactly what I’m imagined, if not even better! The depth of the sets and the intricacies of the props, even ones you never really saw were just amazing. There were bookshelves filled with books and you’d think they were just the spine of book, but it was complete. All the weapons and the things that were made for it was pure magic.

Lily, what kind of training did you have to do to get into shape for the film?

Lily - We all did actually, Robert didn’t train so much though

Rob – My training was very much sleep… just sleep in. Have a good sleep. The rest of them are going to go and do some stunt choreography for a bit. You just show up for the filming bit and put a t-shirt on.

Lily – Or take it off

Rob - Exactly… Ladies that also happened.

Lily - I trained for three months before filming out in Los Angeles and then every day before, during or after work on set with the stunt department. I’ve always been an active persona and I really enjoy getting down and bruised I guess, especially on this one.  I get to hang with all the guys and keep up, in heels and a very short dress, for the guys!

Jamie – Why are you too getting all sexy? You’re all like Ladies or For the Lads! What am I supposed to take… dogs?

Rob – I was just jealous of the heels you know!

Lily – I guess the hardest part for me physically was that I didn’t train in the outfits except for the day before. It was only then that I was thrust into it in these heels and this dress. As Lily it was very awkward but I could just pawn it off on Clary. I never tripped, I just bruised a lot. Battle scars.

Rob – What’s he vitamin that stops you bruising

Lily - I take it every day but it doesn’t work on me

Rob – That’s because you’re porcelain. Like a geisha doll.

Lily – Thanks that’s a better word than Pale.

Jamie we’ve heard you always have a tattoo to mark projects you work on. Is that true an have you had anything to mark this movie?

Jamie - Yeah I was meat to go in today but the tattoo parlour I got to in soho is closed today. I’m getting “I am after all what you made me”, which is a quote from one of the later books, on my back with two roses. But recently I got a skull and a cross on the back of my leg and arm recently. It’s my own stupid fault that I’m sitting in a makeup chair for like five hours.

Lily – and yet you’ve gotten five since the last movie!

Jamie - I’ve got conversations with the costume designer next week, so I think from now on they’ll be a lot of long sleeves going on. It took about four hours to cover up my tattoos and hen but on the new ones over the top. I didn’t just get the character tattoos done because we didn’t know if we were getting to do movie two at that time. But I quite like having my tattoos there underneath the skin and makeup. I quite like knowing that I’m still Jamie underneath all that at the end of the day. So that wherever I go I’m still me.

What’s it like being part of such a popular franchise that already has a big fanbase?

Rob – The others have been on more of a promotional tour than me, because I’ve been working on a small film. But I was at comic con and then the LA press, then Toronto. Even just that has turned me upside down, it’s been fairly hysterical. There’s been a feverish anticipation among the fans and whenever we show up for a premiere there’s been hundreds of fans who have been waiting there for like 12 hours camped out. It absolutely bowls me over. I remember we were in Toronto and we’d done some stuff then the next day we did morning television and I promptly went back to bed afterwards. I got back up and having done a premiere the night before the thoughts of another one ahead was…just the thought of mustering the enthusiasm. But the thing was once I got there the fanaticism and the energy just coasted me along, it was infectious due to the fans.  For me thankfully adrenaline has kicked in in the key moments. Like right now for example. It’s been a an absolute eye opener.

Comic con was my first direct experience of the expectation. I’m not a very savvy social media person. I’m not on checking the traffic. I don’t know how to use Twitter very well. So it was there that I first realised wow the anticipation is huge. Since then it’s been building and building. When we show up to premieres it’s almost like Beatlemanina. We get out of our cars and there’s like hundreds of people there screaming. It’s very hard to compute at times.

Lily – We were in LA and Rob went “It’s like we’re the Rolling Stones!” then I heard a fan say… “Yeah, not quite!” I think it’s been very eye-opening, because I was a fan before I made the films. We’ve been going to these malls and with every one they get progressively more exciting. There are more people there’s, more screams, more weird anecdotes. It’s very special to be there hands on and see them up close and personal. The weirdest moments for me are when I go to mall that I’ve shopped at since I was like 12 and now there’s massive pictures of our faces everywhere. At my local coffee shops now there’s like all these billboards and people wearing t-shirts and stuff. I don’t think there’s any way you can ever full prepare and I wouldn’t want to prepare for anything.  I like the spontaneity and I want everything to be as exciting as it should be. When you set an expectation it’s either above or below, but when you set nothing it is what it is ad it makes it special regardless.

Director – I went to a book signing with Cassandra at the LA book festival with my wife. We went past the next building and we saw this massive line and we thought, what are all those people wanting for? Then we went inside and we realised that line around that building connected with the one into ours and they were all waiting there for us. It was the first time I ever saw these screaming fans. Then they got up and asked questions and they were really smart intelligent questions. I thought the way Cassandra deals with them too was like a stand-up comedian. She just keeps them laughing and she answers back and gives them attitude. She’s just a very cool lady.

Rob what’s the reaction been to your latest project Love Hate?

Well to be honest since Love Hate has come on English TV I’ve not been here I’ve been on the continent. I’ve been away working. So all the reaction I’ve been hearing about has been remote.  But certainly as regards to the show being an honest depiction of the Irish gangster underworld, honestly even though I’m in the show I’m not an authority to ask on that subject. I didn’t approach the role in any methodical way; I didn’t spend any time with real members of the Irish criminal underworld. What is is.. it’s fairly honest in the sense that a lot of the storylines that Love Hate has, have been taken somewhat form the Irish media about stories that have happened and modified slightly. They’ve changed and been dramatized but there is a basis of honesty for a lot of the crime the characters undergo. There’s a lot of honesty in what they do because these things have actually happened and been reported in the media. The rest is just good writing by one man who straps himself to the beats and writes the whole thing. It’s one man who’s written all three series. But that’s about as much evidence as I can give about that.

Jamie, you’ve spoken in the past about the negative reaction of fans when you were first cast, d you feel like that’s changed?

I think upon being cast I was very aware of a negative reaction from the fandom. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t aware of that. That reaction was based on image and looks alone. That was two and a half years ago. As an actor and a performer I’m very much aware of the fact that my job is to change physically and emotionally. That was what hurt the most, because of the fact that people were judging me based on nothing. I’ve been told not to swear but when I talk about this I get  very…. It’s totally fine. I get it. I think sometimes with social media and the internet there is no brain to hand co-ordination. People don’t think, it’s like this continuous diarrhoea. People don’t really understand that that affects people. I think particularly now with what’s happened in recent history should show the fact that particularly with young people, that’s not acceptable. I just don’t think that’s acceptable in any way shape or form. I’m not saying it affected me in that way necessarily because it didn’t. I mean it affected me somewhat for sure but not too much. Have I seen the reaction change, I think so. It’s always hard for anyone in our position I suppose as an actor to receive praise. Naturally as people we are quite self-deprecating. I think sometimes we do what we do as people because we’re looking for recognition.

I have seen a reaction, I was very fortunate to receive a book that had been made by fans that came together. That is something that I look at every day and I’m very grateful for.  I carry it with me everywhere and it’s in my bag. It’s a book of all these people who had pictures with posters saying Jamie is Jace around the world. I feel incredibly honoured to have that. If there’s one thing that someone can take form this monologue. Next time before you judge anyone just think, just use your brain. Don’t be an idiot! It’s annoying!

Harold can you also tell us about the casting process?

Lily was already on board when I decided to do the movie and in truth she was part of why I wanted to do the movie. Jamie was always a hot candidate for Jace. I was aware of some of the chit chat out there and absolutely ignored that. I thought that was totally irrelevant. I thought he was perfect for the part. In my mind I always think about something I learned from advertising. You shouldn’t give people what they want they deserve so much better. I thought the two of them were already perfect. Robbie didn’t look anything like Simon o we had to do some work with the glasses and I thought Robbie did a fantastic job with his accent which was completely convincing. These guys were already the hottest candidates and I had conversations with Cassandra and we all looked at the chatter online and we thought, we’re going to go for the ones we think is best.

As for people like Jared Harris and Lena Heady, we just wanted to fill the film with the best actors possible like the Harry Potter series. No matter how tiny the part is we wanted really great actors delivering lines with the biggest conviction. Alec also is a complex character and I think Kevin Zegers does it very well.

Funnily enough Isabelle was one of the interesting characters. Doing these film’s in Hollywood you get presented with the ‘hotties’ and we id reading with the ‘hotties. But we wanted her to be more than just that, none of them were Isabelle, so we looked high and low and finally we found Germina in Paris.  She’s an incredible right idea. She was a very smart, intelligent, tough and matter of fact kind of girl.

So I felt all the way very confident in what I wanted and I had the support of the author. So we pretty much ignored what some of the fans thought. Overall there was a great response to Jamie, it wasn’t a lot of fans but it was just as he said that those few suddenly had a very powerful voice through the media. I guess so you just have to trust your own instincts.

There’s a lot of elaborate CGI and special effects in the film what was it like to work with that?

Lily - The Great thing about Harold I think what stuck out form my first meeting with him was that it wasn’t really about CGIU or green screen it was about character and emotion. You could wipe away all the other stuff and you’d get the same storyline. It’s just as strong and the other stuff is like icing on top. The Two things that stick out the most CGI wise is a scene where I stop the demons and they all freeze in time. Robbie and I were balancing under tennis balls on sticks. It was very strange because we were supposed to be fighting for our lives and he kept drawing picture son them to make us laugh. After the fifth take it’s not funny anymore. It’s like let’s get this done. It’s just not normal to be doing; I don’t do that on my free time obviously.

The other scene is the dog scene where it changes shape and comes after me and I’m setting things on fire. There was nothing to look at, the director just clapped and said it’s there… now it’s there. The part where part of the monster’s body are bulging back together on the floor, all the director said to me was “okay they’re growing, they’re growing and now they’re merging.” The only time that made any sense to me is when I saw the actual movie. I was like looking confused thinking what on earth he is talking about. It’s impossible to describe because I’d never seen CGI like that anyway. But luckily it played into it.

Jamie – When Eric gets bumped into by Isabelle, Harold the director was literally standing under the shot, pushing the actor.

Rob – If Harold ever writes a book there’ll be a whole chapter on how to scare an actor, without using too much CGI.

Lily -  We also had an amazing prop guy called Mario and every time I was supposed to reach through into a card he was staring at me.  So all I saw was Mario gazing up at me, it was so not normal.

Jamie – What’s fascinating about this industry is that things are made so much more difficult than they have to be. For example, with the thing we use to carve the runes we had battery packs the size of a bottle of water strapped to our backs with wires taped down our entire arms. Then I went to the mall tour the other day and the merchandise it’s just a battery operated pen! I was like why didn’t we have that he we were shooting?

Rob – That was a luxury of being a mundane in this movie. I wasn’t laboured down with any of the shadow hunter technology in this movie.

If you could choose to draw a rune in real life what would it be?

Lily – I create done the other day, on my spare time. I was asked to draw one on someone and as I was drawing it I just thought of what it meant. I said it was the rune for grace and confidence, like you’ always carry yourself with that added bit of grace and confidence. It turned out the girl I drew it on was called Grace! (sings twilight zone music). Kinda weird!

Rob – I’d make the get up in the morning rune. To be completely awake! That’s one thing I could really do with, to get my motor running in the morning without heavy amounts of caffeine. If I could draw that on myself every morning! Even after eight hours of sleep I’ll wake up and for the first few hours I’ll have one eye closed and nearly be hit by a bus. If I could be one of those morning people that would be a great rune to have.

What was your favourite costume to wear?

Rob - My Nike high tops! Grey, pink very cool and very vintage.

Jamie – Robbie is gunning of a Nike campaign, that’s what’s going on right now! I’d probably say my Diesel leather pants, just in case anyone from Diesel is listening now and can help me out. The leaher trousers were great. Everyone’s always like “Oh the leather must have been really difficult to work in, it’s like quite constricting”.  Leather’s actually a very versatile material. It’s stretchy. Although I did rip my outfits quite a few times! I was doing superhero jumps and then I’d rip the crotch. It would be like “Hey we’re going to need a clean-up on isle three here!”. If you look very closely at some of the stunt scenes you can sees there’s rips appearing and then disappearing. No, course our continuity is brilliant…

Lily – As annoying and impractical as they were I think the boots. Just because they symbolise Clary. She’s delicate like a petal but tough like a cookie. So to be able to wear those boots and be able to do all the things that I did and still keep up with the guys is great. It’s also trained me to run around the city in heels.

Jamie - Clary’s like an Armadillo she’s hard on the outside and soft in the inside.

At the heart of this big fantasy adventure is quite a relatable love triangle. What was it like to work on that aspect of the story and why for Clary is important to have these two very different relationships with Jace and Simon?

Lily – First I think It’s somewhat of a love cube, don’t forget Alec who also loves Jace. I’ve no bene in a love cube before.

Rob – There’s actually a nightclub in London that’s called love cube.. we’ll go later. It’s a bit like the Box… I love the Box!

Lily – When Jamie walked into his first audition room. That was pretty much just it. Right away it was created; whatever was needed to be created was created. Then we both walked into the room with Robbie and then they are so different in real life that they embody these characters perfectly in their own ways and I’m just in the middle of these two competing characters. So I didn’t think there was any work that needed to be done when it came to this triangle situation because we were so open to improv on the set. My Clary was only the Clary that she was because Jamie was his Jace. Then enter Robbie who became Simon. It’s weird to be in the middle of two guys again… not something that I’ve done. It is pretty weird. But I think it’s important for Clary because it’s kinda like having the angel and the devil on your shoulders. She’s just trying to figure out who she is and sometimes it takes figuring out what you don’t like to know what you do. Or what you do like, to know what to avoid. She sees pros and cons in both Jace and Simon. She finds pieces of herself in both people. The romance never defines Clary, which I really loved about this particular franchise. It’s not just a girl stuck between two guys. It’s a girl who finds herself in a situation but she never allows herself to be victimised by it or to have it define her journey. I think it’s important to have two types of men, because there are more than two types of men in his world. I mean you could easily categorise them in two categories but I won’t. But you know she finds pieces of herself within each person and I think to have that physical choice is just a metaphorical explanation of herself.

Jamie – I think also   every character g son their own journey. Ace is a shadow hunter prior to the movie starting. Jace goes out there and he kills demons. He protects the human world. His world is turned upside down by her introduction. So his entire motivation and shift is because of her entrance. I don’t want to speak for Robbie but I think Simon is someone who has been a part of Clary’s life and so he is thrown into a world of the shadow hunters and he’s trying to find his place in the world too. So it was never something where we came at it together and said this is the main focus of our story. The main focus is actually the journey that each character has to go on and that’s what makes it an ensemble and that’s what makes it actually an interesting piece. You can relate to very single character. I can see bits of myself in all of them. There’s not one character that make me think I don’t understand what that person’s going through. I think for each of us we were very focused on our own journey within our own love story.

Rob – I think as well the thing with Simon is that even as he’s tumbling into this crazy other world, in a way Clary is very much his focus. She;’s the hand that he’s holding onto. It’s funny that as he’s experiencing this world the thing which irks him the most isn’t the downworlders and the demonic forces, it’s the fact that Clary is falling for this other guy. That’s the thing for Simon, because he’s probably I think an old romantic, the he’s seeing this happen and that’s the subtext for his journey, until he puts his hand to the fire and declares his love for her. So that was nice because that’s his focus and that’s his thread throughout this world.


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