Lowry: I had no official involvement, but they decided that they would consult me, I guess would be the best term. Phillip, the director, throughout the process emailed me, almost every day, sometimes three times a day, just with little questions. They had me look at Odeya’s screen-test before she was cast, they had me look at costume designs, there was one dress they had designed for you [Odeya], and I said it was too sexy, she’s not supposed to be sexy. Make her dress a little longer, it was very short. So I was involved throughout the process but not officially.
[to Rush and Thwaites]: So what attracts you guys to a film like this? Because it’s not a Hunger Games sort-of action movie, it’s a more… thoughtful movie.
Rush: I think so many elements of this project attracted me to it. I mean, when you look at it, you see Phillip Noyce is attached to it, Jeff Bridges is attached, it’s based on a book by Lois Lowry, all those things already make it very attractive. But I think, after reading the script and being so moved and seeing a characters who’s so challenging and has such a journey, it’s one of those scripts that I read that that made me keep thinking about it. I mean I had the audition the night I was reading the script, right before the audition, but it’s one of those projects that stays in your head and makes you think about it a lot and every time I think about this movie and every time I do an interview, there’s something else that comes up there’s a new idea that comes up, new questions that arise.
Thwaites: Well for me it was the chance to work with Phillip Noyce, he’s one of my favorite directors. As a kid, seeing all these Aussie movies, he’s one of those directors that Australian directors look up to because he’s made it in Hollywood, he’s made some great films, and I guess this is his big chance to come back into the big screen. So I really wanted to work with Phil, Jeff Bridges was onboard at this point, and I was super excited to work with Jeff, I’m a huge fan. Then I read the book and I discovered that the story was so powerful and had a great message. Those mixed together was a cocktail of excitement.
[to Thwaites and Rush] What was it like getting to work with someone like Jeff Bridges or Meryl Streep so early in your careers?
Thwaites: Well, 18 years before we got to work with him, Lois Lowry got to work with him…
Lowry: Well no, nothing happened for those years, we kept talking about it.
[to Lowry]: So he bought the rights to the book?
Lowry: Eighteen years ago, he bought the rights. He was going to direct it, and we was going to star his father in it, Lloyd Bridges [as the Giver], who was a fine actor. Then it just never got put together, never got financed, and his father died. And after time passed, he realized he could play the role.
Thwaites: Oh, sorry, we kind of hijacked your question. Yeah, it was great, it was such an opportunity as a young actor. It can be quite nerve-wracking to meet them and start that relationship. But Jeff’s such a cool guy. He welcomed me, especially, with open arms, and in a way that’s something that the Giver does, so it’s a nice parallel.
Rush: Yeah, you know, Jeff is also a very giving person. He is someone who has sat me down and given me advice on the press stuff and filming, don’t be afraid to be the fool and just jump in. He tells you stories about when he was younger and stories about his dad and he is someone who is very giving and open. And the fact that I got to work with him so early in my career is going to have such a huge impact on what I do next, and it has, I think, on every role I’ve approached since then, it’s really changed.
[to Lowry] So I know that some fans are nervous about how their beloved book is being translated to a movie, so what would you tell those fans?
Lowry: I would tell them: “Relax”. I think people lose eight of the fact that a movie and a book are two different things, and you can love a book, but it’s never going to be exactly the same on the screen. And you just gotta relax and let it happen.
Thwaites: You know, the parts of Harry Potter that weren’t on the screen, originally I was kind of annoyed but they’re still in my mind and I can keep them to myself, and in a way that’s kind of cool. You keep the moments that aren’t transferred to the screen to yourself and they can be your moments.
[to Lowry]: So are you happy with the way the book has been adapted for screen? Because they’re two totally different mediums…
Lowry: It is, and I knew that from the start, I’ve always been a movie buff. So I didn’t think, or expect, or even hope that the book would become the movie and be exactly the same, that’s just not going to happen. The one thing that worried me, and I know it worried Jeff as well, was the decision to make the characters older than they are in the book, in the book they’re twelve. And that decision was made for several different reasons, and was simply that marketing, that the movie would have a larger audience if the cast was older. Apparently marketing research told them that teenagers won’t go see movies about twelve-year olds. Another reason that I had not even thought about, is that twelve-year olds, in a movie, can only work a certain number of hours.
Rush: You can work 9 hours, and 3 of them have to be schooling; it’s how I used to work…
Lowry: Yeah, so it makes the movie more expensive, it takes longer to make it. So at any rate, I was worried about it, Jeff was worried enough about it that he almost withdrew from the movie when he heard that the kids were going to be older. And then both of us got over it. When we met the kids who were going to play the roles, saw them on the screen, and saw that it was going to work. Because they had the same air of youth, naivety, and vulnerability that the characters in the book have. They’re older but they have the same characteristics, so it works.