'The Host' first look: Jake Abel on playing Ian, working with Stephenie Meyer -- EXCLUSIVE

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Image Credit: Alan Markfield

If you thought the romantic triangle at the center of The Twilight Saga was complicated, then you haven’t yet experienced the passions at the center of Stephenie Meyer’s other novel, The Host, also a feature film arriving in theaters on March 29, 2013.

Set on an Earth that has been overrun by body-snatching aliens called “souls,” the story follows Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), one of the last humans left on the planet, after her body has been inhabited by the well-traveled soul known as Wanderer (or Wanda, for short). Melanie’s strong-willed consciousness cajoles Wanda into the American desert to find Melanie’s uncle Jeb (William Hurt), her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), and her boyfriend Jared (Max Irons). But once Wanda comes upon this ragtag band hiding out in a network of caves, she begins to develop feelings herself for another human, Ian O’Shea (Jake Abel, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning ThiefI Am Number FourThe Lovely Bones). So, to recap: Jared loves Melanie, whose body is controlled by Wanda, who is in love with Ian.

In this exclusive first look at Ian’s character in The Host, Abel talks about what he calls the “love box” between the four characters, his thoughts on Ian’s progressive attitude towards the souls, and what it was like working with Meyer and the film’s writer-director, Andrew Niccol (GatticaIn Time). Check it out below! 

Photo credit: Alan Markfield

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So tell me about Ian.
JAKE ABEL: Ian’s one of the last remaining humans, part of the human resistance that’s trying to survive this alien invasion. He and his brother escaped being captured together and found Jeb’s cave out in the desert, and that’s pretty much where he’s resided ever since. He’s been struggling to survive along with the rest of the people in our colony. When Wanda comes, there’s the initial mistrust and fear. But through her actions, she slowly starts to teach us things that we weren’t aware of, and because of that my feelings for her start to change.

It’s kind of like a love quadrangle.
Yeah, a love box [laughing], between my feelings for Wanda, the alien inside the body, and Jared’s feelings for Melanie, the human who he’s known, whom Ian has never known. Ian has only known this alien.

What is that like to play? I know that’s tricky for Saoirse, but you’re dealing with essentially two different characters. 
I was really lucky. It was much easier for me than for Max and Saoirse, because my scenes with Saoirse were mostly with her as Wanda. So the physicality we created for both of us was just that: For me, that entity was just Wanda. Andrew Niccol and I [discussed] that Ian was much more evolved than most people in the cave, second to Jeb. His biggest muscles were his heart and his brain. He’s able to understand that yes, Jared may love the human, but he hates the alien. [Ian] has grown to understand [the alien], and through understanding, grown to love her.

NEXT PAGE: Another exclusive shot of Abel as Ian. Plus: Abel discusses working with Stephenie Meyer, and whether he’s read the book: “The thing about Stephenie is that she’s highly collaborative”

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