Jake Abel is Ian
in “The Host”
by Lynn Barker
You might remember young actor Jake Abel from his roles as Luke in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief or as cocky school athlete Mark in I Am Number Four. Jake won the coveted role of Ian in the new sci-fi action/romance The Host, based upon the Stephenie Meyer novel and we are meeting with him in Bev Hills to hear funny stories from the set and learn why the three leads of the film (Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake) bonded as pals.
We learned that Jake wants to play an old West cowboy and that he’s also quite a musician, singer/songwriter.
AGW: You had maybe the trickiest of the roles to play (his character Ian is in love with the being inside the body of Melanie (Saoirse), the alien called Wanda). What was the attraction to play Ian?
Jake: Andrew (Niccol, the director) had called me the day before I went to do the chemistry read with Saoirse and he said some things that I hadn’t really thought about. I initially went in for the Jared part. He said “There is something about this inter-species love that is interesting and I want to explore”. I liked that and caught on really quickly.
He said “Ian is one of the more evolved characters in this cave. He comes around quickly and observes her in such a way that is really cerebral”. These are all things where I was like “Yes, yes, yes. I love this. I haven’t played that before”. I needed something new so I just ran with it from there.
AGW: Were you given the Stephenie Meyer novel to read after you got the part?
Jake: No. They didn’t give me the book. I had to go buy the book (he laughs). My fourteen dollars but that was my choice. I’ve done a few adaptations of novels to movies. This is the first time I decided to read the book, maybe just as an experiment more than anything. I was really glad I did it. It did inform me in a general way about the essence of him. Andrew made him stronger in the movie. That’s one thing I wanted myself. He took all the sensitive parts of Ian but made him stronger and I think that made for a more taunt relationship between him and Jared (Max Irons).
AGW: Did you and Max know each other before the movie?
Jake: No. William Hurt (who plays Uncle Jeb) said “We are having two weeks of rehearsal”. I’ve never had that on a movie and I will always fight for it if I can from here on out. The things that were discovered that just weren’t lying on the surface, the relationships that were developed were great. Everyone was there. Diane Kruger (who plays invading “Soul” Seeker) was there and we were able to learn what she thought about us and us about her and what that meant. It made the movie something more than just thrown together.
AGW: You had worked with Saoirse Ronan before on The Lovely Bones. You were both so young then. What was it like to work with her again?
Jake: She was 14. The funny thing about Saoirse is she’s been a 30-year-old since she was 13. She was really precocious then but not that she’s an old curmudgeon now. She’s such a kid too. She’s very dynamic in that way. She’s incredibly professional when the cameras are rolling and incredibly unprofessional when they’re not. I adore that about her and it makes working with her so much fun.
AGW: She claims that without being able to laugh, her kissing scenes would have been harder.
Jake: Yeah. We were lucky that we were all friends. It made it so much easier.
AGW: Were you hesitant to take the role because of the pressures the “Twilight” films had on the actors?
Jake: To be honest, from the very beginning I said "This isn’t going to be Twilight because only Twilight is Twilight as a phenomenon”. That’s its own thing. What’s lucky about that is it allowed us to make The Host. Without that, nobody would have made the movie. We just got to focus on the movie and now are convincing people that it may not be what they think just looking at the poster. It’s more.
AGW: What were your favorite Sci-Fi films? What did you grow up watching?
Jake: Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a big thing because I guess I don’t feel involved in sci-fi films where it’s just blowing up the White House but I did love Independence Day when I was a kid. That was a great movie. I loved it. But Close Encounters did something for me. It’s this really dramatic human tale. And we get to see it in The Host from the aliens’ perspective. They came and said “You need us” (We’re wrecking our planet). It you want escapism you can enjoy this movie as well. It’s a slower burn, trusting people’s attention spans with really great characters.
AGW: And, for fans that want all action, you have those cool chrome cars!
Jake: (laughing) Exactly. We’re not boring. We’ve got some cool s**t! I didn’t get to drive one though. That’s probably for the best.
AGW: So you pranked Max Irons?
Jake: Yeah, Max made the mistake of letting me know he had a fear of bugs. I had to come save him from a moth in his trailer and I’ve exploited that ever since.
AGW: You evil devil..(wink). We asked Saoirse too, could you survive if stranded alone in the desert like Melanie is in the movie?
Jake: Probably not very long but if I had William Hurt (who plays Jeb in the film) I could survive. He IS Jeb. He lives far from civilization. His gasoline has to be trucked out to him. Max went hiking in New Mexico and William told him “If you get hurt, call me. I WILL find you”. I felt like he was Liam Neeson in Taken. If I was hurt and about to cut off my arm, William would be like “Stop! I’m here!”. He’s a father-figure, a leader, incredibly intelligent.
AGW: Do you know anything about the future of Ian in any new books or movies?
Jake: I told Stephenie, “Would you just let me drive a cool car or shoot a gun once?” But, I haven’t really thought about where Ian should go. I think it would be kinda cool if he got captured and got an alien inserted. That would be fun to play.
AGW: But Ian has Emily Browning as his girl now. I didn’t even know she was in the movie.
Jake: Emily blew me away! Saoirse and I had developed such a specific relationship with each other with her playing Wanda and to know that this new actress was going to have to come in and recreate what this wonderful actress has done, that was hard. That first scene with Emily I was like “How did you do that?” She just said “Oh, I watched some dailies yesterday and picked it up”. Ian says “Oh, you do the same thing with your hair”..(that Saoirse did). But she stands like her. It’s everything Saoirse did. It’s the tone.
AGW: I read that you studied with the comedy group “The Groundlings” in L.A. so when are you going to do a big comedy film?
Jake: I don’t know. If you watch any of my work there’s some kind of levity in it. I don’t reach for it but it always ends up coming up. For me, it’s always script and filmmaker; if those two things make sense, it doesn’t matter the genre.
AGW: Is there some type of film that you haven’t gotten to be in yet that you would really like to?
Jake: I really want to be in a Western. I love Westerns. I write too and I just wrote a Western in three and a half weeks. I write things I want to see that aren’t being made. People aren’t as impressed by Westerns as they once were but I am. I love riding horses. I haven’t done it in a couple of years but used to ride quite a bit.
AGW: Who do you listen to in music?
Jake: I play a lot of music. It’s my break. It’s a different outlet for me. I’m a songwriter as well. I just wrote an EP at my house and it was all inspired by Southern Booty Rock. I spent a lot of time in Louisiana last year. My fiancée (Allie Wood, NYC fashion blogger) and I listen to movie soundtracks in the car. We go see John Williams every year at the Hollywood Bowl.
AGW: We were told you were going to do some music in the movie but it got cut?
Jake: Yeah. The guy who scored the movie wrote a very lovely nylon string score and I started to learn it and Stephenie said “No, you can’t do that. There might be music in the second one!” My guitar is in my room here. We thought, “We live in a cave. What would we do? We’d play music and sing campfire stuff”. Hopefully, if we get to do another one, music will be there.
AGW: You are in the next Percy Jackson movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters?
Jake: Yeah, still playing Luke. It comes out in August. We just spent 10 million dollars to re-shoot the ending. The producers screened it and thought the ending wasn’t right. It was too much like the ending of the first movie. We went back to New Orleans to re-do it. It’s soooo much better.
Uncredited photos copyright and courtesy Open Road Films, 2013
This film is rated PG-13
Web Site - THE HOST