Supporting Creatures

We speak to actors Zoey Deutch and Thomas Mann about their supporting parts in the highly anticipated ‘Beautiful Creatures’.

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In light of the anticipated release of Beautiful Creatures, the romantic fantasy seemingly destined for Twilight-esque reverence in the eyes of rabid fans, FilmInk talks to two key members of the film’s supporting cast in Zoey Deutch (daughter of actress Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch) and Thomas Mann (the lead from the abysmal Project X, and no relation to the same-named German author) to be enlightened about the dangerous concoction that is magic powers, ex-girlfriends and off-the-wall hormones.


Who do you play in the movie?


TM: I play Link, the best friend of Ethan Wate, who is played by Alden Ehrenreich. Link and Ethan have the same mentality. They’re both trapped in a small, very conservative Southern town, and they both have big dreams to see bigger things for themselves. I think Link helps provide a good balance to all the dark, supernatural stuff that’s happening in the movie.  Ethan can come back to his friend who’s always been there. Link is kind of a goofy guy but he’s the only normal one.


ZD: I play Emily Asher, who is Ethan’s ex-girlfriend. At the beginning of the movie, she really doesn’t even know that they’re no longer together. She’s kind of this entitled, spoiled, popular girl, who doesn’t understand or can’t really comprehend or process that he doesn’t really want to be with her. Once she makes the connection that it has something to do with Alice Englert’s character, Lena Duchannes, Emily winds down and uses her power as a popular girl for bad purposes. She makes Lena’s existence miserable. She’s combating these supernatural powers of Lena’s with her own brand of evil.  She’s very evil but in the human sense. 


What were your auditions?


ZD: My audition was the scene in which Lena enters the classroom for the first time.


TM: Mine was my first scene with Alden in the movie, the first time you see my character.  It has the most dialogue of Link’s scenes. It was a cold read of the script. They didn’t send us anything before we showed up. We only knew that it was called Beautiful Creatures, and sort of knew what it was about from Googling the books. So we went into the audition knowing next to nothing and were handed this two-page scene. You had fifteen minutes to work on it and then you did the scene. So that was my first audition, and I didn’t hear anything for a long time. I think I was at the movie theater when I heard I got the part.


Teenage movies used to be about guys being dumped or wrecking their dad’s car but for a couple of decades the supernatural has filtered in. By engaging audiences more with the supernatural elements does your film expand so far outside the normal world that it’s hard for kids to relate to it?


ZD: I think it’s a very human story. I was thinking how these characters live in a typical small town where things are happening that they don’t necessarily want to address.  It’s a town where everyone knows everything, no one leaves and no one comes in. Everyone’s been there generation after generation. They’re closed-minded and don’t like anyone different. Lena Duchannes is part of a family that is already shunned in the town, so she is an outcast among outcasts.  I think the supernatural aspect of adolescent movies is relevant to kids because they sometimes feel that the super-popular kids in school have something much like superpowers because they’re so strong.  They can have crazy emotions and raging hormones and bully the other kids and make them feel they are so much better than anyone else. 


Did you think of someone from your school days that helped you along with this?


TM: I think there’s also a lot of commentary in this movie about the social structure of high school, and kids wanting to fit in but feeling like outcasts. In this case, Lena is an outcast because of her strange family and because she’s a Caster.  She’s a Caster – you can’t call them witches – and has special powers, but she is human and has human emotions and issues other teenagers can relate to. She’s from the outside world and is new to this town, someone who’s very cultured and worldly. That’s a lot of why Ethan’s attracted to her.


You two played mere mortals, so were you envious of the actors who played characters who have powers?


ZD: I wish Emily had powers, but for now I’ll just stick to her evil tactics.


TM: I’m jealous of some of the sequences they got to be in, like one with spinning tables. When the windows blow out, it was gummy and looked like chunks of glass but felt squishy. We did two takes on a soundstage, so we had a couple of tries with that. The windows were breaking and behind them were these cannons that would shoot out. These cannons were full of fake glass.


There are expectations that this movie will be nearly as popular as Twilight. Are you prepared for that level of attention? 


ZD: I think it’s really interesting that people want to compare things, to try to understand something by relating it to something else. But unfortunately I just don’t think you can compare this to Twilight, or other previous franchises. I think this stands alone. It’s different. It’s technically a supernatural thriller, but it’s also a comedy and a drama. It’s its own piece.


Beautiful Creatures is in cinemas from February 28, 2013. We will release more Q&As with the cast and director of the film in the coming weeks.

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