Heaven Is Wonderful For AJ Michalka In Peter Jackson's 'Lovely Bones'

Peter JacksonFor viewers who gaped at his vision of Lothlorien, who were left awed by his realization of Helms Deep, or who stood slack-jawed in amazement at the details of Minas Tirith – get ready to be blown away again, insists AJ Michalka, who says the next place Peter Jackson takes you will have you thinking of heaven. Literally.

"I think it’s going to be stunning," Michalka said of Jackson's vision for heaven, a major set-piece in his upcoming adaptation of "The Lovely Bones.” "There's going to be this beautiful gazebo involved, I know that. He’s doing a lot of stuff with blue screen, which if going to be insane, unbelievable. It’s going to be her own little world in heaven."

The "her" in this case is Susie Salmon (Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old who watches her family and friends from the afterlife, observing them as they struggle to cope with her brutal rape and murder.

AJ plays Clarissa in the film, Susie's best friend. As I wrote back in September when we first announced AJ’s participation, Clarissa plays a vital part in one of the book's biggest turning points, a confrontation between her boyfriend and Susie’s father.

"Basically, he hears noise in the cornfield and thinks it’s the killer and he's about to go after him but really it's me and my boyfriend," AJ explained. "He goes nuts and my boyfriend almost ends up killing him."

At the time we last spoke to AJ, the role of Jack was supposed to be played by Ryan Gosling. A few short days before filming began, however, the "Half Nelson" star was replaced by Mark Wahlberg. Was "The Departed" star able to catch up quickly enough?

"He's incredible," Michalka said of her co-star, adding that he was a real pro in the cornfield scene. "We all did our own and after every take he was like, 'Are you okay? Are you okay?' He was super cool, super nice. It was great."

AJ saved her most effusive praise, however, for Jackson, a director that is "really good about letting the actors do what they feel is right for the character," she said.

"He talks about it with a lot of the actors, like, 'What do you think I should do here?' He involves everybody, which is super cool," AJ said. "I kind of go with what he says and make it my own. From there he's usually pretty happy with it, so it's great. He's unbelievable."