‘Mortal Instruments’ Author Cassie Clare On Watching Jamie Campbell Bower’s Audition: ‘I Started Crying’

Imagine writing a bestselling novel adored by fans the world over. Imagine the film rights for said novel being bought, meaning your precious creation was headed to the big screen. Then imagine months and months of speculation regarding who would play the heartthrob leading male, with many of Hollywood’s hottest vying for the role. You still with me? Now imagine you were tucked snugly into bed when the big casting news broke!

Such is the case for “Mortal Instruments” author Cassandra Clare, who, thanks to a trip to Australia (and its 14-hour time difference) was fast asleep when the Twitterverse went BANANAS over reports “Camelot” actor Jamie Campbell Bower had been cast as her Shadowhunter dreamboat Jace Wayland. What a wake-up call indeed!

Lucky for us, Cassie agreed to stay up until the wee hours of the morning in Australia to talk with Hollywood Crush about her reaction to Jamie’s audition tape, his chemistry with co-star Lily Collins and why he’ll make the perfect Jace. Keep reading after the jump for our in-depth chit-chat.

Hollywood Crush: You were uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter when the news broke yesterday that Jamie had been cast as Jace. What was up?
Cassandra Clare: I was asleep! I woke up actually because my agent called and said, ’Before you get online and check your email and get on Twitter, I have to tell you this.’ So I was prepared. And I got on and was like, ’Oh my god.’ Because, you know, thousands of tweets came in. I did not read them all. I was like, ’It’s like a nuclear bomb went off.’ So the first thing I did was call the studio, because I’m used to there being a lot of rumors floating around, and I wanted to like a) confirm this, and b) what do I need to say?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritties. Why is Jamie so perfect for Jace?
I have seen his audition tape. They sent it to me because they were so impressed with it, and they wanted to get my feedback. People have been asking me what scene he filmed. The answer is a bunch of different scenes. He did scenes where he had to be funny. He did scenes where he had to be romantic. He did scenes where he had to be angry and badass and he pulled that all off amazingly.

He auditioned with Lily, and he and Lily had incredible chemistry that sort of blazed off the scene. I’m just sitting here watching this on my computer, and you know, he was not the only person they’ve ever sent me to look at. I’ve gotten lots of headshots and this and that, and I’m watching the audition and I literally started crying because that was my Jace and Clary on the screen. And it’s an incredible feeling to see that even as an audition. This is amazing. He was snarky funny where he needed to be snarky funny, and he was badass where he needed to be badass. And he and Lily were incredible together.

In fact, after all the auditions, because she’s done auditions with a bunch of different actors, she wrote to the head of the studio, Clint Culpepper of Screen Gems, and she was like, ’It’s Jamie. It’s gotta be Jamie.’ He told me that, this was before he had seen the audition, he told me that he wrote back and he was like, ’He’s a rock star hipster kind of guy. Do you think he can be a badass warrior-dude, as well?’ And she wrote back and said, ’That is Jace standing there. When you watch the audition you’ll see what I see.’

I’m sure fans are dying to know if there was a kissing scene involved in the audition.
You can tell the fans that one of the scenes they rehearsed is the greenhouse scene.

I think people will like that.
I did. [Laughs]

What does it feel like to finally have Jace cast? It’s been such a long process.
First, it’s an incredible relief. There have been so many… There is all this stuff that goes on behind the scenes and fans are like, ’Nothing is happening.’ And I’m like, ’Lots and lots of stuff is happening.’ They’re auditioning hundreds of guys and looking at all of these people, and nobody is quite right. It feels like the search for the Fountain of Youth—you’re never going to find it. So you can’t go forward with the project until Jace is signed off on.

I think another thing that people don’t realize is how many people have to sign-off on something like that. There’s like seven or eight producers on this movie. I don’t even know who they all are. And they all have to sign-off on this. And then it has to go to Sony and the head of the studio, Amy Pascal, and she has to sign-off on Jace. So everyone has to agree that this is the right guy. Getting everyone to agree—imagine trying to get a group of eight randomly selected people to agree on something. I really was starting to think that they were never going to find a guy that everyone agrees on. Then Jamie comes along and does this blow-you-away audition. So they were like, ’Okay, this audition is amazing. We have to bring him back and test with Lily.’

Another thing that impressed me about him was that he asked—I got a message relayed to me through the studio, wanting to know what Jace would wear. He is the only actor who tested for this role who asked this.

Did he dress as Jace for his audition?
He wore exactly what I said: jeans, tight-fitting black T-shirt, boots, and he wears rings on his fingers.

I can definitely see Jamie having those pieces in his wardrobe already.
Yeah, I don’t think it was too much of a problem for him. [Laughs] But honestly, you can wear whatever you want to an audition. This isn’t a dress rehearsal. He could have worn a striped circus tent if he wanted to. But he wanted to get in character as much as possible.

I already liked him. I liked him from ’Camelot.’ I’ve liked him since I saw ’Sweeney Todd.’ [At the time I thought] Jamie seems like a really good option. I’m glad that you’re looking at him. I hope it goes well. As he started to audition, I started getting responses from producers that were like, ’This is a blow-you-away audition—a knock-you-out-of-the-park audition.’ So I asked if I could see it. And they sent it over to me, and like I said, I watched it and started to cry. And I sent a letter back to the studio saying, ’Wow.’ And I think I said the real version of unfreakingbelievable.

Has Jamie read the books or was he going strictly off the script?
I know he’s read at least the first book, and he’s also read the script.

It sounds like he really did his homework for this role.
The audition [process] is not short. It’s, do this scene, do it over, do it over, do it over. It’s one of those things when you realize how tiring it is to be an actor. Every time he was told to do a tiny adjustment, he did it perfectly. He clearly had some thoughts about Jace that were really smart.

It was quite funny, in the greenhouse scene, there’s a line where he says something to Clary about, ’You should have thought about that before you kissed me,’ and she says, ’I kissed you?’ Meaning I started it? And he says, ’Yeah, it wasn’t that memorable for me either,’ and walks off doing the Jace walk-off, which he did great. Then he’d say something off-screen to make Lily laugh! And she would try not to laugh, and it was unbelievably cute. Like, he’d walk off and say, [affecting a British accent], ’Yeah, you were rubbish anyway.’ [Laughs]

How is his American accent?
Well, he did it in his British accent. And we’ve actually gone back and forth about whether to leave the accent or not have the accent. He did one scene in an American accent, which he does perfectly fine. Either one is fine with me. I think it’s going to be up to the director because Jace is, in fact, not American, so if he decided to do it with his British accent it would be fine.

Have you talked with him yet?
I haven’t yet had a chance to talk with him. I’m looking forward to it. That’s sort of how I talk to Lily—getting messages relayed between us and the studio. I think once they actually start filming, and are in the process, I’m going to end up talking to them more to give them feedback.

One of the issues some fans seem to have is that Jamie is a bit…slight. What sort of makeover do you think he’ll have to undergo to embody Jace?
One thing is that he is less slight now than he used to be just from watching the audition. He has certainly buffed up for ’Camelot.’ I think he was slighter before he did that, and I know he had to do some months of boot camp, which is like, you work out and you ride horses and you lift heavy weights. I talked briefly to the producer today, and basically he said,’ He has the right build for it. He’s tall. He’s got broad shoulders. We’re going to put some more muscle onto him, so he’s more built. And, you know, we’re going to cut his hair and give him the golden eyes, and he’s going to be perfect.’ I’m not particularly worried because he’s got a beautiful face. I mean, yeah, he’ll probably have to drink protein shakes and lift weights for a while. [Laughs] I’m pretty sure he’s down with it.

What’s your take on the deluge of fan reactions?
I think it’s a mix. People obviously have favorites before a movie is cast. And so there’s the Alex Pettyfer for Jace camp, and there’s the Max Irons for Jace camp, and there’s the Ed Speleers for Jace camp, and they’re all going to be disappointed because it wasn’t the guy they wanted. But mostly I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses, especially after I mentioned I saw the audition and he was really great. I think they just wanted to be reassured.

I think this is sort of inevitable. This is what happened with ’The Hunger Games’ casting. This is what happened with ’Twilight’ casting. I’m old enough to remember this is what happened with the ’Harry Potter’ casting. The reaction is always worried because people feel very passionately about the books, and they just don’t want to see something that is going to mess it up for them. It’s good because what you want is to know that people are passionate and excited about this project.

When they see him on the cover of a magazine, dressed up as Jace, with the runes, with the hair, with the build, they’re going to be pleasantly shocked and surprised and happy.

Oddly enough, this will be his third big YA franchise after ’Twilight’ and ’Harry Potter,’ yet his first leading role.
That is one of the things I liked about him, actually. To me, he has really worked for this. He’s been a working actor for years now. And he’s been in a lot of good projects. He seem to be choosy about the projects he takes, but smart about the projects he takes. He’ll take smaller parts in good movies to build his resume. And now he’s ready to play a lead role. And I think this is a big one for him.

What do you think about Cassie’s comments about Jamie? Are you more convinced now that you’ve heard from the author? Tell us what you think in the comments and on Twitter!