Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
March 26, 2013
Because their movie “The Host” comes from “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, Max Irons and Jake Abel have received plenty of questions about Team Edward and Team Jacob.
The new film’s story, however, isn’t as basic as, say, a love triangle involving a human, a werewolf and a vampire. The futuristic romance “The Host,” opening March 29, centers on Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), a human whose body is infiltrated by a peaceful alien being. Jared (Irons) has eyes for Melanie; but when the alien takes over, Melanie becomes Wanda, a different personality that captivates Ian (Abel).
At the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 27-year-old Irons (son of Jeremy) and Abel, 25, talked about the power of baths, dangerous three-ways and monkey space travel.
I know you guys went to Second City last night—
Jake Abel: Yeah! He didn’t ‘cause he’s an idiot.
Max Irons: I didn’t because I’m professional. I like to be on point the next day.
Jake: Jerk. I went.
How difficult has it been traveling when each of you has such different perspectives--Max being professional and Jake being so amateur?
Max: I spend a lot of my time trying to drag him up to my level.
Jake: I’m a lot more fun. He sits in his room and tries to expand his brain.
Max: Education’s a big deal.
Jake: Sitting in a bathtub watching television, crying to “Billy Elliott.” How British of you!
Max: Yesterday I had a day where I found myself in the bath twice.
Jake: [Laughs.] That’s why he didn’t go to Second City, ‘cause it was the second bath he had to take. That’s why his skin looks so good.
Max: And then I watched “Billy Elliott,” which is a film I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I was crying like a baby ‘cause that film … the father-son relationship [affects me].
Jake: Meanwhile I was out eating deep-dish pizza, seeing Second City and taking in the city. Expanding myself that way.
Max: I did a bit of that too. But just punctuated with baths.
Jake: And Burberry.
Max: I did not go to Burberry.
I’m glad people will be able to separate British and American stereotypes and know they’re not true.
Max: We’re pansies, basically. The moral of the story is we’re pansies.
Jake: [Laughs.] Bath-taking pansies.
Max: [Effeminate tone] “Skin is so soft.”
How many people do you think, in a setting like “The Host,” would say, “So aliens can end violence and hunger and save the environment? Bring it on; humanity is struggling”?
Max: The price tag of losing your soul and mind [is] fairly hefty.
Jake: Oddly enough, I took a bath last night too before bed.
Jake: We had televisions in the mirrors and I was watching a science show on some history channel or whatever, and they talked about this theory that if aliens were able to come to us they must be so advanced that they had either evolved past war--otherwise they would have destroyed themselves--or they’d never even considered the concept of war.
Max: I spoke about that the other day.
Max: Yeah! In an interview. Glad you were paying attention. You’d think, if they could come this far, if they’d conquered the space travel, the intergalactic light speed travel thing, they must be able to destroy themselves. So the fact they haven’t, the fact they’ve come that far, they must be peaceful.
Do you think a lot of people would be in favor of it, seeing how many problems we have now?
Jake: The rub is once they invade, we disappear. So we wouldn’t even be here for it. We’re essentially killed in a very peaceful manner.
Max: Probably the way to do it would be saying, “Hang on. Let’s have a cup of tea, give us some tips, and then go on your merry way.”
Maybe if we have a gigantic bath where we can all soothe ourselves together.
Jake: I think the bath is really the clincher in all of this. Is if we all bathe together more—
Max: Really? OK.
Jake: We might find ourselves more harmonious.
Max: Maybe …
How many times have you romanced a girl and wondered if she had an alien inside? What gave it away?
Max: One instance I considered there might be something. She’s just full-on mental.
What do you mean?
Max: Just personality disorders, behavioral problems. Causing me to ask a lot of questions about her sanity.
Jake: She’s going to be at home pulling strands of hair out of her head while she watches this, waiting for you to return to London.
Or be like, “He’s talking about me!”
Max: She’s a bit too mental; she wouldn’t be able to connect the two I don’t think.
If you were dating an alien, would you be more weirded out by knowing it was another species or by her being 1,000 years old?
Jake: Well, Ian, my character in the movie, does not care about what species you are. If you’re smart and intelligent, which I guess comes from thousands of years of evolution …
Max: I might be quite intimidated by 1,000 years.
Jake: I like older women.
Max: You do like older women.
Jake: The older the better. 1,000 years old? Forget about it.
Max: We had an actor on set who was—I’m just going to say it, William Hurt—who was quite fascinated and preoccupied. His mind, the first time we rehearsed with him, he was on quantum physics and this kind of thing. He really, really goes for it. But there was one thing he couldn’t get past which was he believed Ian’s love for the alien, for Wanda, should actually extend into interspecies relations. And was quite preoccupied with how that would physically happen. So the little alien tentacly thing—
Jake: “Would it grip?”
Max: “Would it grip?” That was one of his questions, I remember that. Yeah, he never quite got past that one.
Well, Saoirse was 17 I believe when you guys filmed—
Jake: But 18 when we started kissing her. She had a birthday on set.
You’re very quick to note that.
Jake: It’s all very legal! [Laughs.]
Max: And her father and mother were on set at all times.
What do you think a double date would be like with Jared, Ian, Melanie and Wanda?
Jake: I think it would look like a threesome.
Max: Hang on, are they in their own bodies, Wanda and Melanie, or are they in the same body?
No, they’re still in the same body.
Max: God, it’d be a nightmare. There’s a minefield of problems.
Jake: Unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Max: I don’t think …
Jake: Come on, Max.
Max: I might do most things, but there’s a line there. The whole alien thing.
Jake: Oh. That’s what weirds you out about that?
Max: Amongst other things.
I’m surprised you didn’t attempt that solution at one point. “I love her. You love her. Melanie and Wanda are different; let’s all hang out.”
Jake: “As long as we don’t make eye contact, we’re fine.”
Did you hear the recent story about the three-way that ended in a stabbing?
Max: It doesn’t surprise me.
Jake: What? No, go on.
And it wasn’t because of an alien possession. One guy wanted to change position and the other was against it.
Max: That’s why they stabbed—
Jake: So he stabbed him?!
Max: What did he stab him with?
I’m just going to let that settle and leave it at that.
Max: I’m sorry. It’s early in the morning.
Jake: That’s not an excuse anymore.
I enjoy this notion of not a love triangle but a love box, as you guys have described it. It sounds kind of dirty.
Max: It’s got a connotation.
Jake: A double entendre.
Where can you order a love box online?
Jake: I’m sure you can order it anywhere.
Max: You can get anything online.
Jake: I’m sure you can Google “love box,” and a whole slew of stuff will come up.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ordered online recently?
Max: Jesus! The strangest thing I’ve ordered online recently …
Jake: I gave my mother a pillow with my face on it for mother’s day one year.
Max: That’s nice.
Jake: I gave my best friend coasters with my face on it a different year.
Max: He’s an egomaniac.
Jake: They’re not in my house!
Max: He was going to wear a jumper, a sweater this morning with his face—
Jake: But it shrunk in the wash.
Max: This tiny, distorted face—
And what’s weird about that?
Max: I think it sends the wrong message.
Jake: Midriff doesn’t go well in promoting. Or maybe it does. I don’t know, I haven’t tried.
Many visions of the future have shiny outfits and a lot of similarity. What’s something in the future you’d like to be around to see?
Jake: Space travel. Interstellar space travel I think.
And you want to do that yourself?
Jake: I mean, if it was safe. If it was like flying, absolutely. Buy a ticket, go to another universe.
Where’s your first stop?
Jake: The Andromeda galaxy. I hear it’s pretty nice. Real estate’s in a good place over there. Room to grow. High ceiling.
Max: Space travel would be nice. I’m quite psyched by the Virgin Galactic. I’ve also read the Russians, they’re doing this thing. They’re going to shoot up these giant inflatable golf balls which have inflatable apartments in them so you get these little ships up--which you can buy anything in Russia--they fly you up there and then you live for like a week in this inflatable golf ball just floating around in space.
Max: I’d trust them to let me do that. Doesn’t that sound kind of cool? And that’s happening right now.
Are they hitting it with a golf club?
Max: No, it’s much bigger than that.
Jake: That’s the launch sequence—a big thing swings down and hits it up into [the air].
Max: That’s how they do it in Russia, yeah.
Jake: You get the right trajectory …
Max: It’s cheaper than rockets.
Science is really simple if you think about it.
Jake: Pure muscle propulsion, that’s the way to go.
Max: Have you ever played “Angry Birds?”
I’m the only person who hasn’t.
Max: Play it, and then you’ll know science.
Jake: They’re going to have a stick in the ground, a giant rubber band, pull it back [makes rubber band sound].
Max: That’s how you get there.
You said you want it to be safe.
Jake: That sounds good enough for me. If the Russians are doing it ... As long as they send a dog first … I’m good to go. Maybe a monkey. Send a monkey up there.
Jake: Not me. Monkeys deserve to go in space.
Max: Have you seen them? They get strapped in, they can’t even move a muscle.
Jake: Yeah, it is really sad. I worked in a NASA facility one time and there’s this giant track that leads outside that goes inside, and they used to strap monkeys to ‘em and just [bleep]ing launch ‘em.
Max: It’s really amazing.
Jake: It’s pretty horrible. Just strap ‘em in and see how fast they can go.
Max: They don’t know what’s going on. The poor little guys.
Jake: It’s pretty terrible. The ’70s were a wild time, am I right?
What do you say to someone who sees “The Host” or reads about it and says the notion of two guys fighting over one girl who’s possessed by an alien is ridiculous, and they don’t get it?
Max: Um, give it a try. Don’t be close-minded. Open yourselves up to new things, new ideas and new experiences.
Jake: Like an alien three-way.
What impressed Abel at Second City: “They blew me away. I had done a little bit of Groundlings work in L.A. when I was younger and they’re amazing, but they did something last night I’d never seen before. They did an entire skit in the dark and just used two headlamps as if they were in a caved-in mineshaft. It was brilliant. I had never seen anything like that. Musically, they’re all really talented.”
If Irons ever heard his father’s voice and pictured his “Lion King” character, Scar: “No, but what I like is the people at Disney modeled the way Scar looks on my father. I think he’s a little bit offended by that. I think he found that quite tough. I cried when he died. [Bleep] Mufasa.”
The first album they bought: “‘Dance to the Max ’95’ … It’s a compilation album, but it had my name in the title. And then I got ‘The Smurfs Go Pop.’” (MI) “Skee Lo—‘I wish I was a little bit taller.’” (JA)
First concert: “Mariah Car—no, Amy Grant. Rock ‘n’ roll, you know!” (JA) Dire Straits. (MI)
A movie that scared them when they were younger: “‘Last of the Mohicans.’ ‘[Who Framed] Roger Rabbit?’ as well. When he got ran over.” (MI) “Gremlins.” (JA)
Guilty pleasure TV show: “‘The Apprentice.’ I eat that [bleep] up. ‘Celebrity [Apprentice]’ is stupid.” (MI) “‘Toddlers and Tiaras.’ I don’t watch much reality, but if that’s on, I’ll watch that trainwreck.” (JA)
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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