Before you write "The Host" star Jake Abel off as a pretty-boy lead in yet another supernatural romance aimed at teens, you should know: a Twihard he's not. He hasn't even read the "Twilight" series. That didn't stop him from being intrigued by the script for "The Host," based on "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer's sophomore effort, a sort of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" meets, well, "Twilight" story. Abel's character, Ian, is one of the last humans on Earth who hasn't become host to a benevolent alien race intent on taking over the planet. Ian's group of vigilantes takes in Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), who has been taken over by an alien named Wanderer or, as she is eventually known, Wanda. Ian eventually comes to have feelings for Wanda, but there's a hitch: His BFF Jared (Max Irons) used to date Melanie, pre-alien. Uh-oh.
NextMovie sat down for a chat with Abel prior to the film's March 29 opening to discuss Twihards, love triangles — or, perhaps more accurately, love quartets — and how in the world to pronounce "Saoirse." Read on to impress your friends with an effortless pronunciation.
Did you read the book before you were cast?
I read before we filmed. I didn't have time to read it during the audition process because they went relatively quickly, and also it's a giant book. I wanted to make sure I had the part before I delved into it.
What did you think of it?
I was pleasantly surprised. I think it was very brave for Stephenie as an artist to branch out. As she said, it's her antidote to "Twilight." She wanted to depart from it and do something completely different, and it's her favorite genre, science fiction. I really enjoyed it.
And she clearly has a strong fanbase, from a little something called "Twilight." Have you had any notable interactions with the Twihards?
They're very enthusiastic, but they've been very kind, too, which is all we can really, really hope for. They're very bonded to Stephenie and they're very loyal to her and they're very loyal to her previous work. We weren't really sure how they'd accept this one, but they've been really great, which is a relief.
Any reactions from them that surprised you?
Um, plenty. A girl cried, one girl cried, which was very strange, and Max [Irons] and I were concerned that something bad had just happened to her.
How do you even react to that?
"Are you okay? Did something happen? Are you fine?" She was like, "No, I'm just happy to be here!" We're like, "Okay, thank you!" I just wanted to give her a tissue.
So how familiar with "Twilight" are you?
I think you'd have to literally live in a cave to not know anything about "Twilight." I've seen a few of the movies, but I haven't read the books.
The eternal question: Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Team Edward, all the way.
Do you have good survival skills, like your character?
Probably not, no. I would probably hurry up, run to a bookstore and get a survival guide, and then run into the wilderness. Apparently Max thinks it's really easy to go into the wilderness, fashion a bow and arrow with a twig and some squirrel guts and hunt.
"Hunger Games" style.
Exactly. He's like, "Ah, it's simple, that's just what you do." So I'd probably go find him and have him take care of me.
"Take care of me, please!"
No, yeah, actually, you know what I'd do is I'd go find William Hurt. He's Jeb in real life. Literally. He could, he absolutely could light fires. That man has a wealth of knowledge.
And if you had the ability, whose head would you like to live in? Who would be your Host?
It's such a tricky question, I don't know. Probably someone much smarter than me. And stronger than me. A really strong scientist!
You could lift things and do math.
And solve diseases. I want to be the world's strongest scientist.
So your co-star, Saoirse Ronan, has a difficult to pronounce name.
Yes, it's "inertia," with an s.
Before you met her, what was your first guess at how to pronounce it?
I first met and worked with Saoirse when she was 14 and I was 18. I'm pretty sure before I met her, at that point, I was going, "Syeee-orrrrshhh? Sourcey?" Really trying to overcomplicate it and emphasize it. Just horrific. But I rarely call her by her real name anyway.
What do you call her?
Sersh. Skeesh. Skeesha. Skersh. Pretty much anything that comes to mind. Anything with a "shh" and a "ck" in there, and she's like "I hear it, what do you need?"
You can't really accurately call the romantic situation in the film a love triangle, since it's three people but four personalities, but what geometrical shape do you think best describes it?
We have quite a few names for that as well: The love square, the love box. It has connotations. And depth! As someone more eloquently put it, the love quartet. I like that one.
Do you believe in aliens?
Sure, yeah, maybe they might not look the way they do in our movies -- I mean, they might be those little silvery glowing things — but there's quite a lot of universes and galaxies out there for us to be the only ones. There's a lot of space out there.
What movie line do you quote most often?
"In my pocket I have two 'amburgers." From zee Pink Panser.
What did you buy with your first Hollywood paycheck?
Oh, a guitar, I think.
A nice one?
No, a bottom-line Fender Squire. It came with the amp. I wanted to make sure I really wanted to do it. I've gotta stop talking about guitars!
Are you good?
No! See, that's the thing, I keep talking about them, and everyone's like, "oh, we've heard it, we know you play." It's not anything special, but it soothes me.
Do you make up songs — or, sorry. Do you write songs?
I do! I do make-'em-ups! Yeah, yeah, I do. I released a song this week, which is really scary.
Do you ever Google yourself?
No! God, no.
Afraid of what you'd find?
Mmhmm. Because the good things never stay in your head. Only the bad things live on.
If you can't read about yourself, do you have a hard time watching your own movies?
I don't rush to see it. Usually I see it, when you go on a tour like this, it's important to see it because you kind of have to know what you're talking about, but I'm not on the phone asking to see it. I only do it when they go, "Okay, you have to."
Would you like to spread a rumor about yourself?
It can be a good one.
(Laughing) Okay, that I'm a really strong scientist.
Between the leading male duo from this movie, you and Max Irons, versus Edward and Jacob, who would win in a fight?
I think the vampire and the werewolf, obviously. [Our characters] live in a cave.
You have survival skills!
I have a knife that's as big as my hand, that's about it!
What a movie you wish you hadn't seen with your parents?
I remember seeing "Titanic" with my mom and the "draw me like one of your French girls" scene. It was a little weird! I was pretty young! I was impressed with my mom though, she didn't do the whole cover your eyes thing. She was like, "This is tasteful. He needs to see this."
What's your favorite karaoke song?
There's two. Montell Jordan's "It's Friday Night" song ["This Is How We Do It"] and "Jukebox Hero" by Foreigner.
Do you karaoke often?
I've retired my microphone.
What the first movie you made out to?
Oh, I should know this, but obviously I wasn't watching the film because I was making out. So I don't even know.
What's a part you'd like to play that you haven't had a chance to yet?
I'd probably like to play some sort of American icon at some point. Something very Americana.
Like a superhero, or do you mean like a president?
I think a politician would be very, very cool to play. Or an American musician of some sort, or like an American pioneer like the Dohenys or the Rockefellers or something. The men who built America. That stuff really really fascinates me. Or a businessman, the sort of "There Will Be Blood" sort of thing, the industrial revolution of America.
If you could write a part for yourself in the new "Star Wars" movies, what would it be?
Oh, that's hard, because do you want to be a Jedi...I think nothing's more iconic than a Jedi. I'd have to be a Jedi.
A good one, or bad?
A good Jedi turned bad, who then sacrifices himself for good. The whole spectrum.
What's your favorite guilty pleasure movie?
What would your porn name be?
Mischa Bosworth. Or Thumper Bosworth. Thumper was our rabbit and Mischa was our dog.