Considering her trio of YA fantasy-romance novels are basically responsible for the careers of Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and at the very least Kristen Stewart's elevated profile, Stephenie Meyer knows a thing or two about matching actors with roles.
On the phone from Vancouver, the Twilight series author reveals that she was very hands-on when it came to casting the lead roles in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of her 2008 sci-fi book "The Host", which includes Max Irons as Jared Howe, Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea and Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder and her alien host. But Meyer initially thought the Irish actress wasn't old enough for the part.
"I said, I think that she's too young.' They said, go watch Hanna and then let's talk about it. And I watched Hanna and then I was like, 'Oh, I totally get it. We have to have her.'"
It's not hard to see why Hanna, Joe Wright's 2011 action movie about the titular teenage girl who trains with her father to become an assassin, was just the thing to convince Meyer that the 18-year-old could pull off playing the strong female lead in The Host. After all, the dual role required not only a believably fierce, rebellious spirit but the ability to convey the feelings of a conflicted alien, unsure if she should help those she's sent to overtake.
"I'd seen [Saoirse] play very vulnerable roles, so I knew she could do that part of it but I hadn't seen her play a warrior," revealed Meyer. "And not only did she play it, she owned it. I saw that and thought, 'Oh my gosh, she can do anything. She's unbelievably talented."
Fans of Ronan, who scored an Oscar nomination for her work in Atonement in 2007 and played an assassin in 2011 TIFF flick Violet & Daisy, can see for themselves when The Host, directed by Andrew Niccol, hits Cineplex theatres March 29.
Stay tuned for our full interview with Stephenie Meyer.