We, at NextMovie, pride ourselves on being early adopters of YA literature. We were on "Twilight" before K.Stew was ever a noun. We championed "The Hunger Games" before everyone (and their mom) knew it was cool. We're like hipsters, only way dorkier.
So when it was time to head off to Louisiana for a visit to the set of "Beautiful Creatures," we grabbed our dog-eared copy of the book it's based on — the one we read waaaaay before it was a movie — and geeked out on the beautiful creatures that are now bringing "Beautiful Creatures" to the big screen.
So what are the coolest details we learned on the New Orleans movie set? Read on.
1. This is not the next "Twilight."
Sure, there are similarities; "Beautiful Creatures" is also a supernatural teen romance. But, while the target audience is more or less the same, the cast and crew feel they're making something wholly unique.
"I know people are going to compare it to 'Hunger Games' or 'Twilight' ... we fit in that realm, but the book was definitely different than those," said Emmy Rossum, who plays a shape-shifting siren named Ridley. She explained that director (and screenwriter) Richard LaGravenese drew inspiration from a wide variety of sources, including paintings, and that the visual aspect of "Beautiful Creatures" is bound to look like no teen movie we've seen before.
"It's a really fantastical world, the way it looks," she added. "It's a different take on [spell-]casting and witches than we've seen. I think there is that element of comedy and satire but also an immense heart, and at its core, it's a Romeo and Juliet story. I think that will really endear people to our main characters."
2. The stars had a hand in the dialogue.
While LaGravenese adapted Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel — the first in a series of four — himself, he was glad to take input from his cast.
"On the first day, I came to him with some alternate lines, and he was so open to it," said Thomas Mann, who plays Link, the best friend and comic relief. "He was like, 'Yeah, I love it! Let's do it!, and it was, like, no questions asked. And a couple other times he just asks us to improv. It's liberating, it's very natural. A lot of the scenes, we've been reading since the audition process, and so it's good to change it up a bit."
3. Richard LaGravenese is, by all accounts, the perfect director.
Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson (who plays Thomas Mann's mother) raved, "He has wit, humor, and understanding of the human condition ... which is pretty much what anyone needs to direct. A great imagination, and he's cast it very well, which my father used to say is 90 percent of the work of directing."
4. There WILL be flashbacks.
In the books, the narrative includes numerous flashbacks to ancestors of main characters Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena (Alice Englert). Ethan's namesake and great-great-great-granddaddy Ethan Carter Wate will make an appearance — but he won't be played by Ehrenreich, as some had speculated. Alden told us, "They have another actor — I don't know his name — but he's doing it. "
5. There WILL be shape-shifting.
If you've seen stills from the movie, you already know that Emmy Rossum's rocking more than a few looks in the movie, and we got to see a couple of them, up close and personal.
"[Ridley] can make anyone see whatever she wants them to see," Emmy explained. "So I get to channel lots of different [characters]. She's definitely not, you know, kind of like a trashy, jewel-like Harajuku girl, which is how I imagined her when I was reading the book, kind of punky, blonde and pink. She's much more sophisticated, kind of runway haute couture-meets-bad girl-meets-Dita von Teese."
6. Everyone loves the script.
"That's why he's got the cast that he's got, because his script is so good," Emma Thompson told us. "Everyone read it and said, 'Okay, we understand the phenomenon of teen young adult movies and such, and this should be made for everybody.' I hope they don't publicize it as ... a teen movie, because I can't bare any publicity that says, 'Oh, it fits just in one demographic or age group.'"
7. Zoey Deutch has her first on-screen kiss in "Beautiful Creatures."
We're not sure if her smooch will make it to the final cut, but the "Ringer" star (and daughter of "Back to the Future" actress Lea Thompson), who plays local mean girl Emily Asher, told us it was her first kiss with a live audience of cast and crew.
8. The Southern setting is filmed in real buildings in the real South, with real Southerners.
We drove about an hour outside New Orleans to reach the neighborhood where "Beautiful Creatures" had set up camp. One of the scenes was filmed in a beautiful old Louisiana church, and the pews were filled with bona fide locals, dressed in their warmest Sunday best (though, in fact, it was a sweltering Friday in May).
Of course, not all of the sets came ready-made. We didn't get to see Ravenwood Manor with our own eyes, but Alden assured us it was incredible.
"It's pretty unreal. I mean, they have a lot more set dressing to do on it, but just the structure of it … the staircase is unbelievable, and the dining room set is really cool. I was pretty blown away by the classroom set — I've been on sets where everything just feels a little big. The classroom set really felt like a real high school classroom, so I was really impressed by that."
9. Link and Ridley will have some funny business going on.
In the books, Link and Ridley have a love/hate relationship with a fair bit of sexual tension, and, according to Thomas, we can look forward to plenty in the movie as well.
"Emmy is a very giving actress, and she's hilarious. She's very easy to work with. She's another person who's got so much energy ... I've been getting winks from everyone and they're like 'Heeeey' and I'm like, "Alright, alright, I'm trying to be professional. Leave me alone.'"