I landed an exclusive interview with Stephenie Meyer at Sundance, where the film she produced, Austenland, premiered and I went to her premiere tea party. So I decided to conduct the definitive Stephenie Meyer interview now. Just put this and the Sundance interview together. In The Host, Saoirse Ronan plays Melanie, a rebel human who gets possessed by the alien Wanda in an alien world that has generic stores called Store and, yes, another love triangle.
CraveOnline: You introduced the movie last night. Did you stay to see The Host with the crowd?
Stephenie Meyer: No, I wanted to but we had an industry dinner thing that I had to put in an appearance at. I wish I could have. I like watching it with the crowd and hearing them react to things. That’s always really exciting. That was my favorite thing about Sundance actually, was sitting in there with a real audience for the first time and hearing people laugh at our jokes. It was like, “Yes!”
Was Sundance the first time you got the chance to see one of your movies with an audience?
No, I’ve been in with the Twilight movies but they don’t have as many jokes so it’s not really the same thing. Actually the last Twilight movie I was very excited to watch people’s reaction to that because we had the surprise twist ending. I wanted to know how they were going to react to it and if they were going to see it coming. Just listening to people [gasp] was really cool.
You started writing the Twilight books not knowing they would be movies, but by the time you wrote The Host did you have a pretty good idea this could be a movie someday?
No, no, because I wrote The Host before Eclipse came out, the book, not the movie. I wrote The Host actually quite a while ago. I think only Twilight was out and at that time it was kind of a one off. We didn’t know that we were doing the whole series. So that felt flukey. “Okay, I had a movie made off one of my books,” and then The Host didn’t feel like something you could make into a movie. I really didn’t think you could do it. I mean, the whole thing happens inside one person’s head. That’s a tricky premise.
By the time of Eclipse you didn’t have movie deals yet? It wasn’t in motion?
I think we were working on them but it wasn’t a for sure thing. I was really protective with the Twilight books because when I first sold the rights, there was a script that was written that was so completely different from the book, you wouldn’t recognize them. Most of the names are changed, but you change Edward and Bella’s names and you could’ve made that movie without paying me a dime because it had nothing to do with mine. That was kind of a wake-up call so I was protective with the others. I wanted to make sure that people were going to make the story and not just take the name and run with it. It took a little while to make some of those deals.
What was that fake wrong Twilight script about?
Oh my gosh, it was vampire CSI. Actually, it would be an interesting movie. It was like the FBI was tracking these vampire migration patterns and there was a speedboat race and Bella had a gun and leather pants. She had night vision goggles. She became a vampire by the end. Charlie died. I mean, it was crazy. It was completely different.
It was the Michael Bay version!
Not as many explosions but definitely closer to that.
I remember you telling me what a difficult role you thought Wanda/Melanie was for an actor and now I get it. Do you think that was harder than describing the most beautiful man imaginable?
Yes, I do. I think Soairse took on a challenge that I haven’t [seen.] Certainly there’s never been equal to that in anything that I’ve done. I can’t think of an equal. I’ve seen multiple personalities but usually you’re only one person at once, so you get to play all these different characters which is one thing. Playing them both at the same time is a whole other things, and to have them actually be two distinct and separate-able individuals is something else, and she made it look so easy. Just like oh yeah, of course, effortless.
You can totally tell when she’s Wanda or Melanie.
Yeah, when she’s together as both of them talking to herself, you never think, “Oh, that’s just one person.” It’s clearly two characters.
Can we expect Store to open up a major franchise after this?
Wouldn’t that be awesome? That was Andrew. In the story, the souls are very transparent about their labeling because there aren’t brands. You’re not trying to catch people’s attention. You’re just giving them information. “This is a can of pineapple.” That’s all you’re doing with that. That shot, when we first set that up, looking at the monitor with this huge panorama and then “Store,” it made me laugh every time. It was awesome.
What would you buy at Store?
I’d probably buy about the same stuff as I do now but I wouldn’t have to spend so much time looking at the different brands. It’d be like okay, I’m here for peanut butter, that’s all I get. I don’t have to choose between Jiffy and Skippy.