The Lovely Bones is the new movie from director Peter Jackson, based on the book by Alice Sebold. Here Paul Byrne talks to the young cast of the movie for http://www.Movies.ie
Rose McIver was a fan of Alice Sebold’s book, The Lovely Bones, before tackling the role of Lindsey Salmon in the film adaptation. Lindsey’s the older sister of murder victim Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan), the 14 year old girl through whose eyes we witness the affect her death has on the people she loved.
The Lovely Bones, adapted for the screen and directed by Peter Jackson, is a tale of love and loss, and as McIver explained in our one-on-one interview, the book (and the film) deal with varied expressions of grief.
“For me, the movie’s really about the acceptance of a variety of forms of grief. I think that that’s something that Peter and Alice and everybody who was involved in this understood. There’s not one way that people deal with things. There’s jealousy and there’s laughter and there’s revenge, and there’s all sorts of things that people bring to the table. And I think the film really accepts all of those different things as part of the grieving process.”
Exclusive Rose McIver Interview – The Lovely Bones
What did the book mean to you?
Rose McIver: “Well, because it was kind of the first book that I’d read with actual subject matter and I was going into high school myself, that was a really deeply affecting book for me. I thought that the characterization and the novel and the originality of the way it’s told just really, really made it special.”
Where you attracted to the character of Lindsey when you were reading the book?
Rose McIver: “I found her a fascinating character. I thought she was incredibly challenging and really admirable, actually. But no, I had no ideas that I would ever play her or anything.”
When you got the part, did you go back and look at it again or did you just kind of put that aside?
Rose McIver: “Yes. I’ve reread it several times, actually, since auditioning for it and then being cast. And it’s kind of this wonderful resource that fleshes out your character, you know? You’ve got the story and so much to kind of look back at and use to inform your character.”
Do you think the way that she’s written and the way that she actually comes to life on the screen are very similar?
Rose McIver: “I hope so and that’s what I’ve tried to do, certainly. I mean, although the film adaptation is always going to be different to the book, the heart of the story is very much the same. And I really do hope that I bring Lindsey, as the book character, justice.”
The film captures the tone of Alice Sebold’s book. Did you see that in the script?
Rose McIver: “I couldn’t really imagine it not doing it, but I think it was really hard to tell until I’d seen the finished product. I didn’t really know what to expect, and especially since all the heaven stuff, I wasn’t involved in that and I hadn’t seen the shooting for that, so there was a lot of the film that was new to me, actually. But reading the script, I definitely thought it was true to the story.”
You’re 21 and you had to play someone who’s 11 at the beginning of the story.
Rose McIver: “I did, but we did shoot two years ago or something now, so I was 19. It was a bit of a lean, but I mean I have been all of those ages before. It’s not like I was trying to play something above 21 or whatever. So they’re all ages that you have been and been through, and with the help of makeup and costume it’s not too much of a stretch.”
It wasn’t a stretch on film because you look exactly the age you’re supposed to be.
Rose McIver: “Thank you.”
You’re welcome. How easy was it for you to go connect back with those years, because it has been a few years now?
Rose McIver: “Yes, it has. It actually wasn’t too bad at all. I did really specific kinds of things that I associated with each year. Like I had sort of memories from my years of 13 and 14 and things, and thought about objects that I associated with them. And then a lot of it is really with the help of the makeup and the costume team. I had wefts, hair wefts and braces and all sorts of things to really stick me outside my age as I was now.”
Were you involved in the choice of costumes and hair styles for the younger Lindsey?
Rose McIver: “Well, I trusted them a lot, so basically no. I mean if there was anything that I didn’t feel would work, I’d say something. But no, I felt like I was in very safe hands.”
When you’re taking on a character like this where there are millions of people who adore the book, did you feel an extra weight on that set realizing what people were expecting of you?
Rose McIver: “I don’t think I thought about it actually once I was cast, and once I was in Peter [Jackson’s] hands. I really, really trust him as a director and I don’t think it would have helped my performance to be concerned with those sorts of things, so I just [did] the best that I can.”
You said you trusted Peter as a director. I admire Peter the man…
Rose McIver: “Isn’t he wonderful? He’s so down to earth and so personable. He’s wonderful.”
Is he like that on the set?
Rose McIver: “Yes, he is. People say, ‘Were you intimidated to be working with Peter Jackson on that?’ He couldn’t be intimidating if he tried. He’s so friendly and so welcoming. No, he’s wonderful.”
Does he storyboard everything out for you?
Rose McIver: “Well, I mean we had the script to work from, and with each day we’d rehearse a little before. We had a couple of weeks of rehearsal as well before we started the production. But, really, he knows exactly what he wants for each scene. There are a lot of directors who I’ve worked with who have great ideas and they bring a lot of things to the table, but Peter knows exactly what he wants. And once he’s delivered that, you can rest assured because he will get it.”
Was it tough to find Lindsey? Was she a character who was really hard to get into?
Rose McIver: “No. I wish I could be as brave as her and I think she’s somebody I really look up to, actually. And in that scene [no elaboration on what scene as we don’t want to spoil the film for readers who haven’t seen it], I think I’d be a crumbling mess in that situation. I wish I could be like Lindsey – absolutely.
I think she’s far more kind of savvy and aware of her role in the family than I would be. But I didn’t find her hugely hard. Because it’s a character that I did look up to, I think it was relatively easy to step into the role.”
I always felt, in reading the book and also in seeing the movie, that she’s just wise beyond her years. Is that kind of how you saw her?
Rose McIver: “Yes, absolutely. I mean, she does kind of grieve in her own way quietly, but she realizes that she is going to have to be the glue that holds the family together. She really sticks to that which is just… That’s why I say I wish I could be like that, but I wouldn’t be probably strong enough emotionally for myself.”
Was it more challenging for you to actually play her at the beginning when she was younger, or as she grew up and grew into herself?
Rose McIver: “I think having those really distinctive kind of like the hair and the teeth and the costumes and things, like I very much knew what I was stepping into each day and I didn’t find it hugely challenging. I think once we’d created the look for the character, that really helped.
You had the rehearsal process before shooting to try and get that family bond going. But did you also do things off the set as a family unit, in addition to the rehearsals?
Rose McIver: “Peter really works to create a happy, positive atmosphere on set, especially when it’s a story that does have such dark elements. We had a lot of fun – all things considered – on the set. We laughed, and we all got to know each other pretty well. And I think really it was just incredibly fortunate that everybody was so open and willing to connect with each other. The sense of family actually came about pretty naturally.”
And you were working opposite Saoirse who is closer to the age that she’s playing. Did that also help you connect to Lindsey’s younger years?
Rose McIver: “Yes, absolutely. And it helps that she’s a lot more mature than me.”
Is she really in real life?
Rose McIver: “She can be. She can be pretty wise, that one. But, yes, she really behaved it as well, so being her younger sister at the start definitely helped. But I had to outgrow her, and so it was pretty essential that there was that change, you know? That I’m the younger sister and I look up to her and then I continue to grow and achieve on Earth what she could only wish for, really.”
How do you handle the American accent?
Rose McIver: “Well in New Zealand we have a lot of American film and television, so it’s really something that I’ve been exposed to for a long time. And it’s just, I don’t know, I guess it does come fairly naturally to me.”
Have you ever had to tackle anything other than American?
Rose McIver: “What have I had to do? Yes, a couple of English accents, which we get a lot of television and films so that’s not so bad.”
Is a British accent easier than American or more difficult?
Rose McIver: “Probably on par, really.”
When you’re doing a character who’s American, do you revert to your natural accent in between takes?
Rose McIver: “Absolutely. No, I’m very much a Kiwi accent person normally. It’s quite funny when we were shooting because everybody was from all over the place, so English and Irish and, you know, we all had these bizarre accents kind of between takes that completely clashed. And then every time we rolled, we were an American family.”
Susan Sarandon provides great comic relief at times in this. Was it kind of hard to play against a character who’s that over the top?
Rose McIver: “No, actually she really loved it. So, you know, when she was enjoying it and she really embraced the role, it was really easy to play against. I mean she was just a hilarious glamour-gran with a drink in her hand at all times. I had some of my funnest stuff actually shooting with her.”
So this actually was a pretty light-hearted set, despite the fact it’s such dark material?
Rose McIver: “Yes, it was. I mean in the six or seven-month shoot or whatever we had, the amount of screen time that you create is so minimal in comparison to the amount of time you all spent together. We really got to know each other so well and we had so many enjoyable times that, yes, the darker stuff really doesn’t feel so significant in retrospect, you know? I don’t look back and think, ‘Oh, it was traumatic,’ at all.”
And working with Stanley Tucci, you don’t have too many scenes with him – it’s more like you’re in one room and he’s in the other, which was my favorite scene of the movie. What was he like? He’s such a nice man and he’s playing this total evil character.
Rose McIver: “Stanley is a chameleon. It’s ridiculous. He’s so friendly and kind, and I really appreciated him. As soon as I met him I thought, ‘This is such a nice man,’ and then he just transforms onscreen and he’s terrifying. But I think the person who played Mr Harvey had to be it, you know? You couldn’t work with anybody that bad naturally. He is just really brilliant and it’s been wonderful to see him again, actually, with all the press as well.”
You look like an athlete when you’re running down the street in this. Are you athletic in real life?
Rose McIver: “I run, so that was semi-natural for me. And the first kind of few times we were shooting I was like, ‘Yes, this is cool! This is fun,’ and then after about take 20 I was pretty over it. But no, I do run in my own time. I’m incidentally sporty, but I’m not a soccer player at all, so you’ll notice the soccer doesn’t really show me onscreen. Minimal – it’s minimal.”
You actually take a lot of time off between projects, don’t you?
Rose McIver: “Yes, absolutely. I’m studying at the moment. I’m at university, so that keeps me pretty occupied. I just finished my second year there doing linguistics and psychology, and I kind of just work when there’s work and keep busy otherwise.”
Have you seen the film with an audience?
Rose McIver: “I have. The London premiere was the first time that I saw it with an audience. I’d seen the screening beforehand, but I took my mom and dad to the premiere there, which was wonderful.”
How was the experience of watching it with an audience?
Rose McIver: “Well for me it was only the second time that I’d seen the finished product, so I think really I was still ingesting a bit of it myself. I think probably the next time I watch it I’ll be able to see the audience’s reaction a little more.”
Do you normally watch films you’re in?
Rose McIver: “I can kind of just, you know, separate myself from the work quite well. So yes, I do tend to – especially if it’s something like The Lovely Bones, which I’m so proud to have been a part of.”
After attending premieres in both Europe and USA, Rose is now back home in NZ where she attended the Wellington premiere with her co-stars. Saoirse and Rose looked particularly cute at this one! You can tell they’ve really bonded while filming, and walked the carpet hand in hand. Some photos can be found in our gallery, but we hope we will have more later!
A video of Rose at the NZ Premiere of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones have been added to youtube! Check it out below… We will HQ photos from the event up shortly.
We all like children, and — at least in our capacity as moviegoers, book-club members and consumers of true-life melodrama — we seem to like them best when they’re abused, endangered or dead. Nothing else is quite so potent a symbol of violated innocence, a spur to pious sentiment or a goad to revenge as a child in peril. This is hardly news (Charles Dickens made a nice living trafficking in the suffering of minors), but for some reason the past decade has seen an epidemic of cinematic and literary crimes against the young.
“The Lovely Bones,” Alice Sebold’s 2002 best seller, now a film directed by Peter Jackson, stands out as a singularly bold and complex treatment of this grim and apparently inexhaustible theme. In spite of the horrific act at the center of the story — the rape, murder and dismemberment of a 14-year-old girl — the novel is not depressing or assaultive but rather, somewhat perversely, warm, hopeful and even occasionally funny.
Ms. Sebold pushes the dead-child narrative to an emotional extreme, and at the same time undermines its exploitive tendencies, by means of a simple and radical formal device. She makes the victim, a daughter of ’70s suburbia named Susie Salmon (“like the fish”), an omniscient, beyond-the-grave narrator, with a lively voice and a comfortable perch in the afterlife from which to survey the doings of her family, her friends and the neighbor who killed her. The novel is conceived with enough audacity to make this gimmick intriguing, and executed with enough art to make it effective.
Mr. Jackson’s film, from a script he wrote with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, his frequent collaborators, shows less audacity and too much art. Susie’s unearthly home, in the book a minimally sketched, nondenominational purgatory where the dead loiter on their way to heaven and keep tabs on unfinished business down on earth, has been expanded into a digitally rendered Wonderland of rioting metaphors, crystal seas and floating topiary. It’s a mid-’70s art-rock album cover brought to life (and complemented by a score composed by the ’70s art-rock fixture Brian Eno), and while its trippy vistas are sometimes ravishing, they are also distracting. “Heaven,” a Talking Heads song once pointed out, is “a place where nothing ever happens.”
Accordingly Mr. Jackson’s interest in the “in-between,” as this suburb of heaven is called, is primarily visual. The drama is all down below, where the surviving members of the Salmon family contend with the loss of their eldest child. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, is played by Rose McIver; her brother, Buckley, by Christian Thomas Ashdale, while George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), the reclusive, seething killer, prunes his rosebushes and decorates dollhouses. By all appearances he has gotten away with his crime, and Susie hovers in the in-between partly in the hope that she might find a way to bring him to justice.
She is, in any case, obsessed with the lives that go on without her, in particular with the ways her siblings and friends and father (Mark Wahlberg, agonized) and mother (Rachel Weisz, narcotized) deal with losing her, something the audience never has to endure. We are always in Susie’s company, soothed by her voice-over narration and tickled by her coltish high spirits. This puts a curious distance between us and most of the characters in the film — it makes us, in effect, Susie’s fellow ghosts — a detachment that Mr. Jackson’s stylish, busy technique makes more acute. His young heroine, played with unnerving self-assurance and winning vivacity by Saoirse Ronan, cares desperately about the poor living souls left in her wake, but it is not clear that Mr. Jackson shares her concern.
Yes, he grooves on the wild color schemes and peculiar fashions of 1973. (Richard Kelly had a similar field day with 1976-vintage patterned wallpaper and fat neckties in “The Box,” his recent entry in the suburban-’70s-supernatural sweepstakes.) And this director’s fondness for odd angles, intense close-ups and trick perspectives — he films one scene as if peering out from the rooms of a dollhouse — animates a drab Pennsylvania landscape of shopping malls and half-developed farmland. As a pictorial artifact “The Lovely Bones” is gorgeous. It pulses and blooms and swells with bright hues and strange vistas.
But it does not move. Or, rather, as it skitters and lurches from set piece to the next, papering the gaps with swirls of montage, it never achieves the delicate emotional coherence that would bring the story alive. My point is not that Mr. Jackson and his fellow screenwriters have taken undue liberties with the book, a complaint that some other critics have made. On the contrary, the problem with this “Lovely Bones” is that it dithers over hard choices, unsure of which aspects of Ms. Sebold’s densely populated, intricately themed novel should be emphasized and which might be winnowed or condensed.
The filmmakers’ evident affection for the book expresses itself as a desperate scramble to include as much of it as possible, which leaves the movie feeling both overcrowded and thin. The anguish in the Salmon household is dutifully observed: dad smashes his collection of model ships, mom withdraws and then flees to California, and in the middle of it grandma arrives, a brassy boozer played by Susan Sarandon. But there is a puppet-show quality to their grief, and also to the puzzlement of the detective (Michael Imperioli) investigating Susie’s death and the sorrow of her schoolmates, Ruth (Carolyn Dando) and Ray (Reece Ritchie), the object of Susie’s first and last major crush.
The title of “The Lovely Bones” refers to the relationships among these people that knit together in Susie’s absence. In Mr. Jackson’s version, though, they are hastily and haphazardly assembled, so that nothing quite fits together. The movie is a serial-killer mystery, a teenage melodrama, a domestic tragedy and a candy-hued ghost story — a cinematic version of the old parlor game in which disparate graphic elements are assembled into a single strange picture. It’s sometimes called Exquisite Corpse. (source)
The Los Angeles Premiere of “The Lovely Bones” was held yesterday at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, CA. (December 7). Rose is wearing Brian Atwood Wiked Pumps and a Ani Lee Overture Collection Metallic Detail Dress – she looks magnificent! Enjoy the HQs added to our gallery.
The Lovely Bones promotion and premieres tour continues! On December 2, Rose and her co-stars walked the red carpet on the New York premiere of the film, and you can find HQ photos in our gallery. The event was held at the Paris Theatre in New York City. Rose was interviewed at the event, can you can watch a video from it here or below.
Rose and her The Lovely Bones co-star Saoirse Ronan guested at The Alexa Chung show yesterday to promote their film! 4 photos have been added to our gallery.
The Lovely Bones’ stars Saoirse Ronan and Rose McIver stop by, along with “Dollhouse” singer, Priscilla Renea and American Idol contestant Allison Iraheta.
Rose McIver attended the 2009 Royal film performance and world premiere of The Lovely Bones held at the Odeon Leicester Square on November 24, 2009 in London, England. More than 100 photos from the event can be found in our photo gallery! Rose wore a tailor-made dress by Juliette Hogan, and she looked amazing.