NYCC: An exclusive 1:1 with Beautiful Creatures director Richard LaGravenese
This winter, Warner Bros. will unleash what may just be the "next big thing" with BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, a romantic fantasy based on the series of hugely successful young adult novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Directed by Richard LaGravenese, the film features a cast filled with screen veterans (Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis) and young blood (Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Thomas Mann).
Described as "a supernatural love story", BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is set in the South and tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl who happens to belong to a family of "castors," which is another word for "witches." Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
At this past weekend's New York Comic-Con, I got a brief opportunity to chat about the film with its Oscar-nominated screenwriter-director, Richard LaGravenese (THE FISHER KING, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY). Read on:
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is something of a departure for you. What drew you to the project?
LaGravenese: The fact that it were visual effects, that was a challenge. And I just love the world of it, I'm creating this atmosphere, this world of Southern Gothic, that I don't know very much about but I'm very drawn to. I love mythologies, I love things that are supernatural - I'm a big fan of "The Walking Dead" and "True Blood" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and I wanted to get into that world and see what I could do with it.
Was this a project that was brought to you, or that you sought out?
LaGravenese: I sought it out, actually. It was in galleys, the first book hadn't come out yet. I just liked the story, I didn't know if it was going to be a series, it was just the book.
Let's talk a little about the story, what can we expect? Is it mostly a romance?
LaGarvenese: It's a real balanced story. There is a love story in it, but it's also about family secrets, it's about tragedy, it's about the Civil War, it's got a lot of different things going on in it. It's a Romeo and Juliet story. At it's core, it's about the power of humanity. Even though the supernaturals have the power to control all these forces, at our core, we have things like faith and sacrifice and love - things that supernaturals don't understand. At the end of the day, it's about what it means to be human.
Because the books are so popular, do you feel sort of an added pressure to get it just right?
LaGravenese: Well they weren't when I started writing it, so the pressure kind of built. (Laughs) I started before they had come out. I wanted to tell this story the best I could, so I didn't read the other books, I wanted to give myself permission to do whatever reinvention I needed to do, because reading a book is one experience, and making it literal on the screen is something else. You have to translate that, you have to have the freedom to do that. But, it still is the spirit of the book, and if it succeeds, it could easily go into the franchise.
And would you be down for that?
LaGravenese: Absolutely! I feel very responsible for my actors, so yes I would.
And speaking of the cast, you have a very nice mix of young up-and-comers and veterans.
LaGravenese: They worked together so well, there was such mutual respect. The elders were taking care of the youngsters, and the youngsters were exciting the elders, it was just great.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES hits theaters during Valentine's Day weekend in 2013.