People are falling in love with “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” based off the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I was in Los Angeles for the worldwide premiere and had the opportunity to meet with some of the cast, Cassandra Clare, screenwriter Jessica Postigo Paquette and director Harald Zwart.
It may seem like the leap to a fantasy film was an odd choice for the “Karate Kid” director but not at all considering Zwart grew up fascinated by the runes and mythology in his home country of Norway. “I grew up looking at ancient runes carved in stone. Runes were very much part of my culture and this is one of the things that fascinated me about Clare’s story and these characters,” explains Harald. Below is more from my interview with him.
On where he found inspiration for creating the demons in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
On what he most loves about Clare's story
“It’s a character-oriented film. One of many reasons I got engaged to do the movie.”
“I moved away from home at the age of 14. I wanted to know how Clary would relate to her mom being one. And that’s before you add the supernatural element. How do you deal with a reality that shifts and shifts? Does she become nuts or stronger?”
On the big “reveal”
“That was a long discussion and I think we landed on the idea that it worked in the book. Most probably thought it would be a lie when reading the book on how it was presented but there is a risk of them not thinking that in the film. We had to think about new viewers to this story and not just fans of the books.”
“It really makes Valentine more evil by letting people know the lie he is telling.”
On the most exciting scenes
“There is a huge energy shift when Valentine comes. I love watching the audience jump to the Demon girl.”
On the decision for the Shadowhunters to have British accents
“It instinctively felt right. I wanted it to feel that shadowhunters have been around forever even before America.
On future "Mortal Instruments" films
“The primary focus [for this film] was to preserve the integrity of Clare’s story. I wish we could have told more about Luke’s backstory. We tease it in the first one, cover it more in the second.
On the cast and their contribution to the film
“Lily was on board before I joined the project. She was one of the reasons I took the role.”
“What’s great about these actors is how they love and relate to their character. Often we’d be filming and someone would say, “hey, how about this line?” For a director these moments are priceless.” An example of this is when Jamie (Jace) says, “Have a little faith?” in hotel du mort."
When the first trailer came out just after filming wrapped Zwart credited it to the amount of old-fashioned camera trickery that was used in the film vs. CGI. What were his favorite scenes that used such tricks?
1. “When he builds the pentagram. It’s actually perfect precision and I played with it on my computer using a program for hours.
2. “Clary writing Magnus’ name with the negative spaces in the city of bones. I love how only Jace was smart enough to see it. I’ve always been fascinated with the mind and I think that’s how she could remember something. Our mind sees things through negative space.”
It was obvious when I met with Harald that he gets this story and just as importantly, the fans. People began lining up the night before the premiere in anticipation of seeing the cast walk on the black carpet. Harald and his wife made soup and went out at midnight to serve the fans waiting to support the film. It was great to be part of this and wonderful to see his enthusiasm for the film and its fans.
"The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" is now in theaters and playing on IMAX.
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