Move over Robert Pattinson, there’s a new British lad that is making us swoon and his name is Max Irons.
Max broke out onto the scene with his role in Red Riding Hood opposite Amanda Seyfried and now he is one of the stars of The Host, Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up to Twilight. In the film, Max stars as Jared Howe, one of the few human survivors left on Earth after it’s started being taken over by Souls who inhabit human bodies. He meets Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) and her brother Jamie and falls in love with her. After Melanie risks her life to save Jamie, she becomes the host to a soul and becomes known as Wanderer and later Wanda. After finding her way back to the humans’ hideaway, we learn that Jared isn’t so accepting of Wanda and then the rest of the story unfolds.
We had a chance to sit down with the ever-so-charming Max to find out what it was like having all these kissing scenes with Saoirse, his fascination with Justin Bieber, why he loves taking baths and what it was like growing up with parents in the industry (his dad is Jeremy Irons).
Was it hard to lose your British accent for the role? I do find it quite difficult. It’s sitting in front of a mirror making weird shapes with your mouth for a long time.
Did you have someone on set with you? Yeah, for the first half I did but he wasn’t so present which was nice. He’d come up and say, “watch this word.” I sort of picked it up by the end. It was nice to see people surprised [by my accent] because initially there was talk of making Jared English which never made any sense to me.
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Jared makes some interesting first impressions when meeting Melanie & Wanda for the first times. What were those scenes like? There’s a relationship between lust and violence that we might address, not around this table [laughs]. There was a kiss and a headbutt, then a slap, then a kiss then a bite, then a kiss then a punch. There was also that line “kiss me like you want to get slapped.”
You did get slapped a lot in the movie. Did you actually get hit at all? All the time, I know. Most of it’s fake. I think Saoirse got me once.
What was it like working with Saoirse, who is young but so accomplished? She seems like an old soul: When I first met her in the audition she was 17 and I had met her before when she was 14 and she had this same quality then. She has a real emotional intelligence that sort of shines through her eyes. I think that’s what all actors try to achieve. This honesty, this truth coming out without doing anything. You look at her and you think, “what is it you’re doing that makes you so captivating and truthful” and it’s hard to put your finger on it. Working with her you feel like you’re learning a lot and it makes it easy.
What was it like having to kiss Saoirse with her parents around? It was weird. The scene where we were in the bed in the trailer was really weird because there was a linen cloth blowing in the wind and [her dad] was right there. I could sense him looking at the side of my head. But he’s such a great guy, Paul, both her parents are, that’s probably why she’s as rounded and decent as she is.
In one scene, you have to kiss her right after Jake. Was that weird? It always makes for a boring story but it wasn’t. Thankfully me & Jake are good mates and Saoirse’s also a good friend so there was a lot of laughing and joking on set. There was no sense of competition or performance questions.
Like who is the better kisser? We get asked that a lot. We get asked that which is odd. You think they’d ask Saoirse that.
Did you have to do any preparation or training for your dance scene? We had a half an hour dance lesson about a month before we shot that scene, so of course we forgot everything. We threw it together. We had a dance coach there on set but it was fun. We had actual music playing but there was a line of crew over there yelling “do it better, pick her up better” so you got so confused and it was chaotic and so much laughter that it became organic.
When you read for the first time, which character besides your own were you really drawn to? I quite thought playing Kyle would be quite fun because he’s such a f***ing nutcase and there’s so many options there for how to do it but I think Boyd [Holbrook] does it so well. He has a real menacing presence. But Jeb as well. I obviously couldn’t play Jeb but…only William Hurt could play Jeb because he IS Jeb.
How do you feel about the comparisons to ‘Twilight’? I accept it, it doesn’t surprise me. I saw this article once where it said “Which of These 12 Films will be the Next Twilight?” like ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Beautiful Creatures,’ etc, and you look through them and think the only common denominator between these movies is they have a young cast and that’s it. There’s no vampires. I think what people are more interested in when they say that, because ‘The Host’ isn’t comparable to ‘Twilight.’ It’s a science fiction film, a story of human survival, it poses questions that aren’t posed in ‘Twilight’. Yes it has the romantic element but so does ‘Bridget Jones’ if you know what I mean.
What people are more interested in, I think, is the phenomenon that was ‘Twilight.’ Is ‘The Host’ going to blow up and have kids going crazy all around the world. I don’t think it is to the same extent, at least. I heard a story about Robert Pattinson being chased through the streets of Paris by a group of horny French girls. I can walk two miles in that direction before anyone recognizes me.
What about when you’re back home in London? Same thing. I ride the tube every day. It’s easy
Do you have any guilty pleasure TV shows? I haven’t really watched TV in so long. I saw Honey Boo the other day on the internet. She’s a little freak isn’t she? But she’s sort of funny at the same time. I can watch a bit of X Factor. I like them.
Are you a One Direction fan? No, but Harry Styles though. I like Harry Styles, he’s a cool kid. I read a story today, actually this very morning, that he sleeps with 12 girls a night. How can you believe that? Where’s he gonna find the time? I don’t think he’s a minute man. I read that in some s***** online…it might have been the Daily Mail, England’s worst newspaper.
I’ll tell you what I did watch the other day which I was in the bathtub watching it. I was crying like a baby and I advise you all to watch it again – Billy Elliott. It’s happy cry. It’s not a sad cry.
Do you watch a lot of movies in the bathtub? Yeah! I love a bath, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I really love watching a film in the bath and if you get the temperature just right you don’t get that itchy feeling. You just relax.
So you stay in the bath for the whole film? I can. I have very soft skin [laughs].
Are you getting the bubble bath and aroma therapy? Maybe a bit of coconut stuff, you never know, some grapefruit. Bubbles you can’t see the screen and it’s a little bit over feminine for me. The bath and the candles is enough…there’s definitely candles. If you’re going to do it, do it.
Is it always films that make you cry? NO! I’ll watch ‘Terminator’ in the bath but no bubbles.
So do you know the guys of One Direction? No but I do know a lot about Justin Bieber. The kid sort of fascinates me. I see him every morning in the news and I always click on his stories.
What is it about him? Just his little incidents in London, likes taking a lot of shirtless photographs. I’m sort of interested by the phenomenon of a young guy who’s clearly had no time for childhood operating at that kind of high octane celebrity level. That’s interesting. I feel for the kid. That’s tough. Every time he makes the tiniest mistakes, the world and media are looking in on him. He should go on holiday. He should have a bath.
Your dad, Jeremy Irons, is a well known actor. What advice did he give you when you told him you wanted to be an actor? He gave me lots of different advice. When I was younger and I wasn’t sure he thought I was necessarily committed to the idea, he said “Listen, don’t look at us” because both of my parents are actors. My mom was mainly stage, but successful. He said, “We’ve been really lucky. Don’t look at us and think it will be the same for you because you grew up around this.” The majority of actors are unfortunately out of work. There are far more actors than there are jobs. They also said that if you are an actor, you will have good days, you will have bad days, you will have good reviews and bad reviews. You’ll be riding high and riding low. It will be difficult to form relationships because you’re away a lot of the time. All those things. They said if you can accept that and get over that then go ahead and do it. Then when I started doing it, they said to me keep using those muscles as much as possible so if you’re doing a film, finish the film and the press then if you have two months off, go home, get a couple friends together and do a one act play about the pub in East London which I’ve done a couple of times and it’s great. It’s just as rewarding and it keeps the motor running.
Be sure to check out The Host in theaters March 29, 2013 and stay tuned for our interviews with the rest of the cast!