Can you tell us why you chose to take on aliens?
Aliens are much more my roots than vampires, for sure. I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. I never really read horror. Before I wrote Twilight, I never read a book with a vampire in it. So that was very… not my realm. Whereas aliens, I feel totally comfortable with. I love aliens. I've always been drawn to alien movies and alien stories. I love that. So for me, that's just a place I like to hang out.
You touched on this briefly before. You have some wonderful veteran powerhouse actors in this film, such as William Hurt playing Uncle Jeb and Frances Fisher playing Maggie. Can you talk about what they bring to the movie?
So much. Oh my gosh. It's really amazing. Frances Fisher has a smaller role than William Hurt, but she's really fantastic in everything she does. But William has a meatier role, and he gets to the thoughtful center of the movie. He's the person who's been around the longest and seen the most and comes up with his own philosophy on life. Every time he's in a scene, it's like "Ahh" angel lights descending on it. It's amazing. I think people are just going to adore him as Jeb. I think that might be the most true to the novel, looks, the sound of his voice, the way he does things. I think people are going to be like, "Yes, there's no one else who could ever do this but him.
On the other end of the scale, aside from veteran actors, you have a very young actor, Chandler Canterbury. You recently, in Twilight were working with another young actor, Mackenzie Foy. And now you have Chandler in this, who has another key role. Can you talk about what this young performer brings to the film?
He's fantastic. We've been so lucky. You know what they say, never work with children or animals. We keep doing that, but both of those two young actors - who have actually worked together before - we ended up getting these little adults who are very serious about their craft, who completely understand what they're doing. It's not the situation with the stage parents, these are kids who genuinely love acting and really enjoy it. And Chandler, he's adorable, but he's also really, really gifted. You just buy him and his feelings. They're there. And there's this scene with him and Wanda, and just the relationship between them feels so real. I remember, Andrew was just amazed. He was crying in this scene, and he's like, "It's like that kid can actually control his teardrops and make them stop on his cheek at the perfect spot." He's extremely talented and it's wonderful to have. In this post-apocalyptic world, where everything's very serious, to have a child, it puts everything into perspective. For me, as a mom, it makes you take their situation so much more seriously, when you see a child suffering in this world that they live in now. So I'm really grateful that we found someone and that he wanted to do it, because he's amazing to have.
What characteristics did Saoirse embody as an actress that you felt was perfect for the leading role?
The main thing is that she is one of the most amazing actors I've ever had the privilege to watch, let alone work with. We knew that with this role, it's very complicated. And without someone who could just transform themselves into both of these characters and be super believable, it wasn't going to work. We had to have an amazing actress. So that was the main thing, which was finding an actress who was that good. Then, when you get past that, her abilities that are special to her - one, is that she is so ethereal. She's such a down to earth kid when you know her, but if you see a photograph of her on a red carpet, it's like she's from another planet already. She's just this beam of light. She's amazing. That worked out so well, that otherworldly part of her, to play an alien, a very peaceful alien from an advanced civilization, it's very believable. Because she is just different. She's not quite like us.
And then, she also has the ability to play such a fierce survivor. If you've seen her in Hanna, you know what I'm talking about. And that, actually, was the movie that the other producers got me to watch. Because my first instinct when they said Saoirse Ronan, I was like, "Too young. I don't want to do this teenage triangle again. It's going to be too much of a Twilight thing…" I was kind of an absolute no, she's fantastic, but no. And they said, "Go see her in Hanna," and so I very begrudgingly did. And I was sure my mind was not going to change. And I was on the phone with them before the credits were done rolling. I was like, "Ok, ok. Sign her up. If she's willing to do it, do anything we have to do to get her." [laughs] She's amazing. I truly believe she can do anything. I can't wait to see what she does next because she is so phenomenal.