“Beautiful Creatures” Lena:
by Lynn Barker
Toward the end of the “Twilight” saga, mortal Bella becomes a very powerful vampire. In contrast, in another popular supernatural YA book series, starting with “Beautiful Creatures”, 16-year-old Lena Duchannes (pronounced Doo-Kane) gets her awesome, witchy, spellcaster powers early on and, while falling for a mortal, learns how to control them.
18-year-old actress Alice Englert, daughter of famous film director Jane Campion, is fun, thoughtful, modest, bright and, although she praises Kristen Stewart for standing up in the face of adversity, she doesn’t see anything but surface comparisons between her movie and the “Twilight” universe. She stresses that her film has more humor and is both flattered and mortified that her director used a song that she wrote and recorded in the bathroom in the movie! Picture brunette Alice looking old-fashioned glam wearing a crochet beige blouse and long red skirt. She speaks in a slight British-sounding accent.
AGW: I love the humor in this movie. Were some of those lines easier for you than others?
Alice: Yeah, Richard (La Gravenese the writer/director) was able to move in and out of what is mainstream and what is cliché and always be playful and take you to places that are slightly left-of-center on a familiar mapping in this genre. And I love that. It meant that we could constantly be playing whilst making the movie and finding new things. It was great. It's not often that you can do a big movie and not have your creative spirit bound to that formula. To be able to still (contribute)... it was great.
Alice: Do you recall your first meeting with Alden Ehrenreich who plays your love Ethan in the film? I understand, at first, neither one of you wanted to do a “teen” love story movie.
Alice: Yeah, then we read the script! We met in the rehearsal room, and to be honest it was interesting. We were just lucky because we did like each other. We just seemed to be able to understand why we were both doing this. He made a joke and I was like, “Oh that's funny, that's good, that's fine. I can do this”. Yeah, there weren't any politics or games. We both knew what kind of film we were making.
AGW: You and Alden were drenching wet in rainstorms during most of this movie. Was all of that totally worth it? Did you get more out of the scene because of it?
Alice: (laughs) Yeah. Acting is made much easier when you're either kissing or you have elements, like you actually have weather. Then you stop intellectualizing and over-thinking your performance and everything.
AGW: You have done other films before. Is this project any different because you knew there was a built-in audience, due to the books?
Alice: It is different, but you have to forget about it. Also, I think the fans have a right to have their opinions and hate us or love us, or whatever they want to do. It’s their right to have their forum, and for us to get involved in it, there’s something wrong with that. It’s etiquette. It’s manners, they should be able to comment and they’re not expecting we take to heart every single comment… that would be a huge pressure.
AGW: The characters of Ethan and Lena are mature beyond their years. That fits well with who you and Alden actually are.
Alice: Thank you. The casting director did an amazing job of casting people who are from different backgrounds. They are known, but some unknown. They’re the British actors and Viola David, who come from a theatrical background. We all came from different areas. Our paths may not have crossed necessarily at this point. It was really interesting and all wonderful.
AGW: Alice you are a singer-songwriter and a poet so you are like Lena in some ways…
Alice: I don’t know why people are…
AGW: Your director Richard told us.
Alice: Argh. Okay. I do have a song in the movie (she wrote and performs “Needle and Thread”). But you know, I scribble in a notebook. I'm just like a normal 18-year-old girl. This is embarrassing. I would never possibly be able to say that I’m a poet. I love poetry, I'm very passionate about it, so I'm all the more embarrassed to think that I’m a poet.
AGW: But you do your own jottings like anybody else.
Alice: Yes, I do. And I do write music and I collaborated. That, on the other hand, is slightly different. I have collaborated on music on another film and would love to again.
AGW: There you go. How did it feel to have your song in this movie?
Alice: It was amazing. I mean, just like one of those things that you can't really hope for. Because I recorded it in the bathroom of the apartment I was staying in in the warehouse district of New Orleans on Garage Band on a computer. And then Richard heard it and liked it and we re-recorded it, but then he wanted to use my terrible bathroom version! So that's in the film!
AGW: But it sounds good (she rolls her eyes). What did you learn from working with Jeremy Irons who plays Lena’s Uncle Macon?
Alice: It’s hard to say what you’ve learned because (great actors like Jeremy) show you by example the way they carry themselves and the way they do their work. That’s the greatest thing you can ever get from an actor like that is being able to see them doing their thing.
AGW: Lena wears some amazing costumes as well as fun “normal girl” outfits. Did you get to keep anything from your wardrobe?
Alice: Not the locket or her charm necklace. But, I should have that brown jacket, I was told I’d get to keep it, but where is it Jeffrey (Kurland, costume designer)? They said they’d given me the brown shoes I wear in the library and I’m still waiting on those! I did keep one thing, the book that I’m reading in the last scene. I’m reading H.G. Wells “The Outline of History” and it’s a beautiful book. I stole it!
AGW: Speaking of books, I understand you had a suggestion for some souvenir items for fans from the movie..
Alice: We wanted to get a box set of all the books that are referenced and read by the characters in the movie along with “The Book of Moons” as a journal, as it’s empty. We’re working on that… I mean there’s Beautiful Creatures-inspired makeup! That’s a bit of a stretch. We need to have “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Slaughterhouse 5”, “On the Road” “The Fountainhead”. I feel that the books would be amazing.
AGW: I’d totally buy that!
Uncredited photos copyright and courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures, 2013
This film is rated PG-13
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