BRACE yourself for the screaming girls, and a new wave of Team Gorgeous Actor vs. Team Equally Gorgeous Actor paraphernalia. "The Host," Stephenie Meyer's sci-fi novel-turned-film, is here.
Jake Abel and Max Irons, the two male leads, have been on the press-tour circuit with Meyer. At the Ritz-Carlton, with a tight schedule of consecutive interviews, Meyer sits, legs folded pretzel-style while the guys lean back on the couches. After the packed screening the night before, they had a drink at the hotel bar and people-watched to decompress.
"We made fun of couples making out," Meyer laughs.
"Oh, my God! PDA like you've never seen!" Iron says.
Their relaxed mood makes it hard to believe that they're sitting on what will possibly be the next big Meyer project.
"It's always tiring waking up in one city and sleeping in another. It can be sort of disorienting," says Abel, looking down into his cup of coffee. "We're lucky that our group is really tight."
"There's not that one jerk," Meyer adds.
"Which is so often the case," Irons says, with a sigh.
It's the English actor's first time in Philadelphia, but there's very little time to look around; what he sees, he sees from the window.
His accent was his biggest concern throughout the film and at the Q&A after the screening. Once his voice hit the mic, a room filled with swooning women gasped.
"I couldn't tell if it was noise of approval or a noise of, 'Look at that freak on stage,' " Irons says.
From the reactions on the girls' faces it was a noise of approval. Abel, whose best friend is from here, was relieved by the audience's reaction to the screening.
"I was kind of nervous to come to Philly because I know these people and they're tough!" says Abel. "Philadelphia is the press-tour proving ground."
Despite the massive success of "The Twilight Saga," on screen and in print, Meyers describes "The Host" as the most beautiful thing she's ever worked on.
In "The Host," Earth is invaded by aliens called Souls, and human bodies become mere hosts for these organisms. Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), one of the few human survivors, has been invaded by a soul named Wanderer and manages to maintain her spirit even when occupied. The film chronicles the two spirits contained in one body with conflicting agendas, in a very daunting and unfamiliar version of Earth and love.
"In [director]Andrew Niccol's vision, everything is just heightened and more," Meyer says. "Everything Saoirse did was art, and these guys supported her nicely. It was exactly what I was hoping for."
A sci-fi flick, with a dash of chick flick, leaves room for a broad audience. The screening managed to garner a diverse crowd, with both men and women filling the seats.
"I'm not really into 'Oh! Look at the cool spaceship with the lasers!' " Meyer says. "I'm drawn to people being in situations that we aren't in but what we would act like if we were. It feels very human. That's the humanity that I'm drawn to."
The "love box," as Irons and Abel prefer to call it, reveals Meyer's knack for complicated relationships when their characters find themselves making a silent compromise by sharing the two spirits in one body that held both their hearts.
"So often people blow relationships over stupid things," she says. "If you can work through something this complicated you can work with someone forgetting to put the seat down."
After the screening, the main question was about when her sequel to The Host was coming out. Meyer responded by asking fans to be patient with her while she's still on tour. With only a detailed 50-page outline, is she feeling the pressure?
"Yeah! Because it's not written!" she says, with a laugh. "I would love to have the time to work on it, I would love to tell everybody 'Yeah, something's going to come out.' I feel the pressure all the time."
With comparisons to "The Twilight Saga," "The Host" has huge cinematic shoes to fill, but the film is completely different from its overachieving big brother.
"It's a great piece of escapism," says Abel. "The world is in a certain state right now. There are a lot of people struggling and this is a film that shows humanity at its best."
"Free will is why we can't have peace, but it's such a wonderful thing that it's not worth losing," Meyer says. "We'll figure some way out through the mess of it all but being who we are is the most important thing."