Director Harald Zwart talked to the folks at Cinema Blend about THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES. He discussed different filming locations, the adaptation process, Lily Collins tackling heroine Clary Fray and more.
Check out some highlights from the interview:
As far as fan expectations, is there anything that you could talk about as far as the plot of the story goes that maybe you changed? Or did you stick pretty close to the book?
Zwart: We try to stick as close to the book as we can. It’s always hard with adaptations, especially with a big book like this one. We’ve been very fortunate to have Cassandra Clare, who’s very cooperative and has been a great collaborator during the whole process to make sure we preserved what she knows and the integrity of the book but still was possible to do in the film, in the span of the film and just practically, how you could execute things.
Is there anything in specifics that you could talk about that maybe was changed or had to be changed because you weren’t able to adapt it exactly from the book?
Zwart: Well, we preserved the emotional arcs and the character arcs in the movie, so that’s all preserved. We had to change some locations around. Simplify a little bit here or there. I think the ending had the ingredients but there are things that we had to adjust a little bit in the ending.
So you’re filming a New York City story in Toronto and there’s also that kind of added layer of this hidden world that Clary’s being introduced to. Can you talk a little bit about the challenging of having three locations, in a sense, to work with?
Zwart: It’s always a patchwork anyway when you do movies and commercials. Its amazing what you can get away with. Toronto has a lot of similarities with New York City. As long as you add certain iconic elements and you make sure you have enough genuine New York footage, which we also have, the audience are generally getting the feeling that they’re actually in New York City.
Part of the thing that was fun to do was, in Toronto, there’s lots of grand old buildings. So we had the corridors of the institution in one house and the lobby in another. We shot a bit at the University. And then we built a lot of stuff. There are great big sound stages in Toronto and we had huge sets where we built the interior of the library and the City of Bones and those sets that you couldn’t find anywhere.
One of the things I know from the book is that Cassandra Clare is very detailed as far as all of the elements of the story. You have this fantastical world of weapons and demons and runes and just the general rules. How was that as far as trying to remain faithful to the book but also having to bring that into a movie?
Zwart: Well, as I said, it was important to me to ground everything and try to find physical reasons and sort of – as much as you can – explain why and how things happen. Because I think one of the things that is fascinating about this story is that you could walk around New York City and you are surrounded by demons and vampires, it’s just that we don’t necessarily see them. You could see them, if you look twice maybe. Or you just don’t have the ability to. It’s this idea of a world within a world, but still, it’s all reality around you. So I tried to make everything make sense, except for the portions that you want to be magical, of course. But we’ve tried to explain things with physicality and frequency and that’s been a lot of fun, to take all of the juicy stuff from Cassandra Clare and put it into a visual interpretation of what she wrote. Because at one point, you just have to have physical things in the actors’ hands. What do they look like and how do they work? That’s been a lot of fun to do.
Can you talk a little bit about how Lily Collins handled the role and maybe working on a film that has this kind of female lead that’s just discovering her strength?
Zwart: She’s a great actress. We met early in the process and agreed what kind of character she was. You know, she’s like you said, very well described in the book. It was important for me to also show that she was her own boss. That she was the initiator of the actions she takes. She’s a very strong girl and I think Lily’s a fantastic actress who has a radiant smile and great energy. This isn’t one of those movies where the lead just goes around and has the same expression all the way through. Lily is such a vivid and lively person herself. So I believe we captured most of that spectrum of her, so I think people will be very entertained by that.
This is the first book of a series. Is the film set up for a sequel? Is there anything you can talk about as far as what might follow up after this one?
Zwart: As with anything, we focus on one movie at a time, always respecting the story of the future books. Just so, at least we preserve the possibility for that. I feel the movie has an emotionally satisfactory ending as it is. So, if you choose just to see this one, you’ll still be happy with it. But obviously we had to be very careful to make sure that we preserved the story line for anything that had to be continued in the following books. So, we’ll see. We’ll concentrate on this one. It’s very exciting though, to know that she has so much more material.
Read the full interview at Cinema Blend