THE HOST’s Jake Abel Talks His Comedy Background, Kissing Scenes, and Percy Jackson
Leading up to The Host‘s release this weekend, I got the chance to sit down with Jake Abel (who plays Ian) and a handful of other journalists to talk about the film and a lot more. He offered us some background on his acting career and why he’ll never do another sitcom, as well as insight in to some of those kissing scenes that fans are so looking forward to. He also teased a little bit about the upcoming Percy Jackson sequel, where he reprises his role as the bad guy Luke.
Read the full interview with The Host star Jake Abel below:
What do you think about this guy Ian who develops an attraction as a human for a woman that he knows is an alien?
That was kind of the initial thing Andrew talked to me about before I went and read with Saorise. I first read for Jared and they called me back to read for Ian (and I was like, “I knew it!”) and Andrew called me the day before and said, “There’s something about this interspecies love that really interests me and I want to explore it.” And in a very strange, weird way I knew what he meant. So I said, “you know, I do too.” And it all kind of clicked for me. We talked about a few things about him, just how he’s one of the more evolved people in the cave. He’s the first few who start to turn, who start to see something to this enemy. And then he invites her to his room.
Where did you grow up and how did you get in to acting?
I grew up in Akron Canton, Ohio in the midwest. I never really did theater, I did some theater appreciation classes and stole my parents camera to do skits. I taught myself stop-motion animation. And then I got to improv my freshman year and that’s what ignited the fuse. My parents rolled the dice on me and we took a trip out to Los Angeles for a couple weeks. I got an agent and started getting some good feedback. Then it became, “ok we’ll stay another month…ok maybe one more…” and then eventually my brother and I moved out here.
So it’s been 10 years since you moved out here. Would you say one of the things that’s worked for you is that you were willing to stick it out, that you had that perseverance?
For me, it was also having a family that really believed in me for whatever reason. My dad came from nothing and really made something of himself, and so did my mother. They’re big believers in life’s instincts and if life tells you do something and you have the means to do it, then you should at least give it a try. That’s how they got to where they were they did and they did that for me.
So you’re in the Percy Jackson sequel – how is it going to be different? We’re sort of surprised that after all these years there is a Percy Jackson sequel!
No one’s more surprised than me! It’s funny. They got rid of Chris Columbus and hired a new director, Thor Freudenthal, who obviously hasn’t done as much work as Chris so none of us really knew what to expect. But the stuff I’ve seen, I don’t know how we came together and did this movie – it looks really good! And really funny. The tone is right, it’s light and there’s a lot of comedy in it. It’s not goofy slapstick, vapid comedy – it’s cheeky. I’m going to do some ADR in a couple days so I’m excited to see more of it. It’s much bigger than the last one – bigger monsters, bigger adventure, there’s more characters from the book. There’s Tyson, Clarice, and my character Luke is at it again trying to destroy the world with any means necessary. He’s a fun guy to play. This is the first good guy I’ve played, in the Host.
Is that a tough thing to break out of – being the bad guy? Bradley Cooper had that for a while, where he always played the prick.
It’s always the nicest guys, though! It is a thing where I started saying to my friends that I had to save a kitten from a tree in a movie sometime soon. I had a conversation with Kevin Durant, who plays a lot of bad guys. I was saying to him how I’ve got to play a good guy soon and he was just like, “Pretty soon, they’re going to start letting you play good guys, and you’ll think that’s neat. But then they’re only going to let you play good guys. Pretty soon, you’ll want to play a mother fucker again.” And I understand what he meant by that, but I just want variety.
Since you trained in comedy and improv, are you looking for comedy work?
Well I never did stand up. I helped a buddy out and played guitar on a joke during his set and…it didn’t land. So I give big credit to stand up artists. I would do a comedy. Like I said, variety interests me. And I’ve done a sitcom and I realized I couldn’t do this. I could not be on a sitcom show for however many seasons. I was on the Suite Life of Zack & Cody. I turned it down a LOT, at the time I was studying sitcoms at this place called Lesly Kahn and finally they just offered it to me, I didn’t have to audition. It was great because I had a couple friends on that show. Ashley Tisdale was a friend on that show actually from Groundlings and she introduced me to my best friend to this day, Kyle Gallner, and it was a great experience because I’d never done it and I haven’t done it since. It just didn’t work for me. There’s something about doing the same jokes for a week of rehearsal. You start off on Monday, you get the jokes, by Tuesday you’re nailing the jokes and the crews laughing, and by Friday they’ve heard them and they don’t give a shit anymore. And then it just makes you really second guess yourself thinking you’ve lost it and it’s not funny. It really tormented me! And then you come around to studio audience and it’s great again, since it’s all new to them. Certain things connect with you and film connects with me in a way that this didn’t. it ignites something in me, it sustains me.
Did you read the book before or after shooting?
Yeah, I did! When I was cast I read the book. I sat down in my house for a few days and got through all 600 pages of it. To see what else and how else I could be informed.
What was it like having Stephanie Meyer on the set? Was this the first time you’d had an author hanging around?
No, I’ve done quite a few adaptations! And each one is different. Stephanie is a ghost on set. She’s at video village, but she’s not coming up to you or saying “I didn’t write him this way.” Early on, with the rehearsals and everything we were given free reign, keys to the castle. She specifically said, “It’s yours now, we hired you for a reason. Now go and bring it to life.” And that relieves any sort of expectation or pressure that you feel in that moment that allows you to just to go and do all the things you’ve prepared for.
Having that freedom, did you incorporate anything from the book?
Probably. Nothing specifically. He was made a little bit tougher than he was in the book. He was more rooted in the earth. I was really thankful for that because that’s the one thing I wanted to make a change with. But it’s more of a essence thing, his evolved, cerebral nature, his sensitvity.
Just finished filming Percy Jackson, that one comes out in August. I just got done with that one so now it’s just waiting for the right one. I was supposed to do an independent film but it fell through. I hope it comes back. It’s called Rays of Light. But now it’s just waiting for the next thing that speaks to me the way The Host did.
The Host is out in theaters in this Friday, March 29.