The Witching Hour

Move over, bloodsuckers. This is the year of the caster.

“Beautiful Creatures” is a new movie based on the best-selling novels, “The Caster Chronicles,” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. With a cast of both new and seasoned actors (Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, to name a few), “Creatures” attempts to fill the paranormal void that the cultural phenomenon “Twilight” left behind. Stars Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich sat down with the Guardian to discuss their take on the film, its message and what it means to be a witch in a very mortal world.

Alice Englert is a poised 18-year-old Australian actress who’s been exposed to the industry all her life. Alden Ehrenreich is a 23-year-old NYU alum who was discovered by Steven Spielberg at age 14. With this movie set to be their first big-budget film, a lot rides on the way in which they face this typically overwrought genre. Although “Beautiful Creatures” may sound like a shoddy “Twilight” remake, both actors recommend not making hasty assumptions about the cliched synopsis like they initially did.

“We both passed on it when we just heard the brief without reading the script — that was literally the kind of brief we got … Once we both read the scripts, we really wanted to do it,” Englert said.

Apparently, the writers weren’t too impressed either. Even the film’s title ended up on the cutting room floor.

“‘Beautiful Creatures’ references a line that got cut from the movie, but it’s in the book, and it actually references human beings,” Englert said. “Jeremy Irons talks about how human beings are such beautiful creatures because they have faith with no reason, and he finds this baffling and also endearing.”

Both actors speak fondly of the allure and importance that the main characters, Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate, bring to the film.

“[Lena is] a young girl on the verge of her 16th birthday … she’s traveled around, she’s had not-great experiences, she’s pretty cagey and she wants to just stop for a second; she wants to know, she wants to be human, she wants to be normal, she doesn’t even know how to be normal — there’s a total gap between what she wants and the reality of where she can go with it,” Englert said.

While attempting to find normality as a witch in a mortal-dominated world, Lena finds Ethan.

“I’m a young guy in this small town who’s just dying to get out of this town and has these romantic visions of what he wanted — the kind of life he wants for himself — and when I meet Lena … she embodies all those, all the excitement and all the adventure that I have been thinking I needed to leave the town to find, and we fall in love and then have to fight against these supernatural forces of her family to stay together,” Ehrenreich said.

Several renowned, award-winning actors are also part of this production and take a page from the dark side to do so.

“[The supernatural forces come] in the form of Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum, who are the naughty, bad side of my family and who are very keen to make Lena dip over there … I thought that was really great, the way Richard brought that work to the family aspect … a supernatural sort of mafia in a way, getting pulled into the gang,” Englert said. “I think a lot of families want their children to live the way they lived, because they’re afraid that if they live a different way, it undermines the way they lived their lives … I think that was really exciting for me, seeing Lena have to break away from that.”

The banter between the two actors is extremely casual, and the friendly in-person chemistry between the two translated well to the screen. Their candid relationship allowed for a certain self-awareness when comparing themselves to their characters.

“I moved around a lot when I was younger … I really understood the feeling that this is not permanent, there’s nothing … I’m just here for a moment, and now it’s gonna move on … keeping up the barrier — I understood that very well,” Englert said.

Drawing on one of the author’s intended themes, Alden relates to the eager drive his character portrays.

“I think for me, it was the kind of restlessness and the desire for something more out of life and reading a lot, and kind of thinking of your life as this journey towards something bigger … In other stories of this genre, the guy is always this aloof, kind of cold jerk to the girls, and they wanted to write a story that shows that nice guys are good too — You know, nice guys can be smart, and guys could read books and guys can be polite … I see my character as sort of an update of a classic southern gentlemen.”

When asked if they see themselves holding an Oscar anytime soon, they aren’t as assured.

“Yeah, I don’t know, I can’t imagine. We’ll see. I think we’re both in a little bit of denial, but I also think that’s a good problem to have because that means the film did well, and that’s the most important thing: that the movie does well and people respond to it and connect to it,” Ehrenreich said.

“We just want to win best kiss,” Englert said.

They probably won’t even win that with the shadow of the “Twilight” finale following them to MTV. But for now, “Beautiful Creatures” is their focus — and if this movie does well, we’ll probably be seeing much more of Englert and Ehrenreich in the near future. There’s a definite possibility of success if the film can manage to crawl out from the pit of its vamp-counterpart’s reputation. Who knows — maybe lovesick witches will fill the void in every tween’s heart that was once occupied by a glittery vampire with abs. But are more screaming pubescents necessary at all? Only time will tell.

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