From the moment he was cast as Jace Wayland, Jamie Campbell Bower has had to shoulder the weight of a fandom’s high expectations. Talking with Jamie you get a sense of just how heavy a weight that is.
Prior to my visit to the set of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones last September, I had all the confidence in the world in Jamie portraying Jace. He had the approval of all the people that mattered –Lily Collins, the studio and, most importantly, Cassandra Clare. But I knew I wouldn’t be fully convinced until I saw it myself.
I remember the first time I saw Jamie on set. The group of us fan sites were interviewing Cassie when I turned my head and saw Jace walking down a hallway toward us — with that trademark blond hair, decked out in black, and covered in runes. From the moment Jamie walked into the room he commanded attention much like Jace. I often say that Jamie is the mundane version of Jace — and then I realize Jace would kill me for thinking such a thing. It was a bit jarring at first to actually see Jace standing before me. The character that I had cared about for years was no longer a figment of my imagination but flesh and bone.
But it was when Jamie started talking about Jace, a character that he has connected with on a deep level (and he wanted to give a good cuddle), did I realize just how perfect he is for the role. If it wasn’t his hard work and dedication training for the role months prior to the film it was his complete understanding of the character and his connection with Jace. “…everything that I feel…I feel that he feels too. And everything he feels I feel.”
After talking with Jamie and watching him as Jace during filming, I can say that I don’t think there has ever been an actor that was absolutely born to play a character as Jamie was meant to play Jace Wayland. It’s hard to put into words just how perfect Jamie is as Jace — I could go on for pages — so I’ll just let Jamie explain himself…
What’s the training process been like to get you ready to play Jace?
To the point of almost passing out, it’s paid off in abundance I hope, and it’s something that I never really been comfortable with before I suppose would be my word in. I sort of shied away from such things. I did Ballet at school but, yea, I was pretty crap. But yea, it’s been really difficult but worth it. Not something I would recommend for everyone that’s for sure! But it’s good.
Were you familiar with the series before you acquired the role?
I was not. I was not familiar with the series. It was interesting because I heard about it. I actually heard about the project through somebody else whilst I was working on another job. So I started doing research into it because I was interested in the story and of course you hear about a job that’s sort of floating about and you think it sounds cool or whatever. So, you kind of want to poach it a little bit. So, upon receiving the interest of casting, I delved a little deeper let’s say. But, I wasn’t aware of such books like Twilight and Harry Potter. I didn’t read much as a kid. I watched a lot of cartoons.
What has been your biggest challenge in playing Jace?
My biggest challenge in playing Jace, I think the physicality of what I have to do in playing him has been a big challenge. And I’ve wanted to do a hundred percent of the stunts and everything like that. There’s been but one thing that I haven’t been able to do. And unfortunately it happened two days ago and the guy got a bad ding on his head so I’m kind of thankful I didn’t do it. Hence this being on my face now. This isn’t real; it’s to match his ding. So, that’s been really tough, but also really exciting for me. And I’ve pushed myself further than I’ve ever push myself before. It’s been a challenge but it’s been a challenge I’ve wanted to do, and I do love to challenge myself. And I do love to push the boundaries of what I believe I can do and what I didn’t believe I could do. So, that would be the main thing. And also, you can steal an answer from somebody else because it will come back to me.
What was your favorite part about Jace’s character?
This, there you go steal this. My favorite part about his character, and what’s interesting to me when I was discovering out who he was, was this vulnerability that exists underneath this shield of wit or rudeness effectively as I have seen it, and when that vulnerability is shown to the one person that he believes that he can trust it’s scary for him. It’s scary to let someone in, and the moment he feels almost instantly he feels that’s been betrayed, he just shuts back off again, and I love that about him. I love this…I wouldn’t say he’s a cool customer, but he’s a bit of a dickhead. And I kind of love that….I love that about him. I just think it’s brilliant. Because you don’t get dickheads in stories anymore. Yeah that’s what I love about him.
How much have your costumes, tattoos, and make-up affected you portrayal of Jace?
Dramatically, I was very fortunate enough to be here over a month prior to shooting, so I got to work with Gersha, our costume designer, quite closely and she’s pulled some incredible stuff together. But, it was great for me because I was able to go in there and go I don’t know if this is going to work. I feel uncomfortable, and if I feel uncomfortable and then (someone) is going to feel uncomfortable as well. Of course there will be times when you are wearing things that are uncomfortable. What’s interesting for me about Jace is the fact that I genuinely can relate to him so everything that I feel…I feel that he feels too. And everything he feels I feel. So, it’s been really exciting for me, and also I love leather and there’s a shitload of leather. So, that’s been cool. The tattoos, I love tattoos. It’s great to be tattooed. It’s not so great to be sitting in hair and makeup for three hours but it’s fun. And hell it makes him look badass.
What was your first impression of Jace either when you read the book or first read the script?
That he was a dickhead. But a loveable dickhead. Like I was saying with the vulnerability thing, there are times I just wanted to give him a cuddle and sit him down and go dude it’s okay don’t worry everything is going to be. . . .you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don’t have to, you know, fight demons, um you do that’s your job so yea, I loved him and I wanted to sit him down and have a chat with him, cuddle him, and then discard him.
What’s been the most fun experience that you’ve had on set so far?
Everyday. The training is fun, it’s just hard. This is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt on a set. Which is great, and I trust Harald with my life and with what he is doing with the story. And the fact that he gives us the freedom also to be able to put things in or put our input in is really interesting for me. Because you know you can work with a lot of people where “this is it”, this is what we’re doing, this is how it’s gonna be, no deviation from this, you can’t bring anything into this because this is how it has to be. The words are there, the stage direction is there. We don’t have to do that with Harald. We are very much given this open forum where we can just bounce ideas around. If he thinks an idea is crap he’ll just tell us. But that’s been really fun for me. I guess all the fighting stuff, the Hotel Dumort stuff has been really cool. I got to do a front flip onto a table, so that was pretty cool. It was awesome.
What do you love most about The Mortal Instruments series?
The covers. They are nice covers. I feel sorry for the guy that was on the cover of the first book though because he’s probably going, “Why wasn’t I cast”? Maybe he’s a crap actor, maybe I’m a crap actor. Like I said before, the underlying love story, the torment that exists in the characters, particularly in Jace. I love his sort of angst and his confusion in his own my mind whilst trying to be Mr. Sly.
Check back Monday, July 15 for our interview with the lovable and hysterical Robert Sheehan.