As huge fangirls of everything Cassie Clare touches we were thrilled to catch up with her to talk City of Bones (the DVD drops December 3!), the next TMI movie, her new role as a screenwriter, and her new series – a collaboration with Holly Black!
Which character were you most excited to see come to life in the film?
Oooh, that’s a tough one. I would have to say it was Clary. She was the first heroine that I wrote about and I was really invested in her and in watching the story of her evolution coming to life.
Can you share three adjectives that describe Clary?
She’s empathic, feisty and smart. It’s fun to watch an intelligent character make smart decisions and I love that about her. But she’s also very empathetic and involved in other people’s feelings.
You were actively involved in the casting; who was the hardest to cast and why?
Valentine was the hardest to cast. I had a very specific image of him and what he looked like, and the director had his own image, and we went back and forth between 100 people. Some of it was because he had actors he wanted to work with and I was like, “But Valentine is 38 and this guy is 68! So, I mean, he’s Clary’s father so what was he doing all this time?” It took a while as a group to have a unified vision. But for all us, it was watching Jonathan Rhys Meyers in The Tudors and how he portrayed Henry. We all realized that overlapped with all of our visions for what Valentine should be like.
Which character was the best match for your vision?
I think they all did a really amazing job so it’s hard to pick and choose. I think Lily had a tour de force performance—she was in almost every frame of the movie and she carried it incredibly. Also Kevin Zegers who played Alec, did a wonderful job of bringing a character to the screen who has a lot going on under the surface but doesn’t have that much screen time, to life. We discover what’s driving him: he’s in love with Jace and that’s a big issue for him, obviously. I would find myself watching him, even in the background, constantly reacting to Jamie in every scene. He does silent longing really well!
The movie is insanely beautiful and visual. What scene blew you away when you saw it come to life on the big screen?
The scene when they come to the Institute for the first time and it turns from a wrecked, broken-down building into a beautiful cathedral. You can’t do that without movie magic. It made me think—this is what movies do! They take things that are impossible and they make us see them.
Who is your favorite character from City of Bones and why?
I love Simon. Robert Sheehan was one of my top choices because he brought so much likability to the character. I like Simon because he’s a normal person who’s caught up and lost in this world of super powerful beings and good vs. evil, he’s ordinary and has no powers, only his intelligence and bravery to rely on, and I like that. And he’s a great friend to Clary.
For the series, I love Magnus Bane. He appears briefly in City of Bones but is a recurring character throughout all my books and is the only character who appears in every book. He always brings energy, fun and levity and he’s a great character to write about. And he has his own spinoff in The Bane Chronicles!
Were there any scenes from the book you insisted remain in the film?
I was more interested in preserving the relationships than a particular scene. I didn’t want to see Alec’s crush on Jace removed because it drives so much of what happens with Alec in the next couple of books. I also wanted to retain the relationship between Clary and Luke. He is her father figure and I didn’t want him to look like a nosy neighbor because he’s so important as the series goes on. And I also wanted to see Magnus’ party and the brief scene when Magnus says the hot one can stay—and it’s Alec. Magnus is a huge fan favorite so I thought it was important that those scenes make it in.
What was it about Unique Features that made you comfortable about entrusting them with The Mortal Instruments?
They were the guys involved in making LOTR, which is one of my favorite movies. I’m a HUGE fan. Around Christmas when the weather is crappy I’m like, “I’m gonna curl up on the couch with the director’s cut.” They’re perfect fantasy movies. So, of course they also get my vote for best book-to-movie adaptation of all time by a million votes.
Do you have any inside scoop on filming City of Ashes?
I heard they’ve attached Sigourney Weaver to play the Inquisitor, which I thought was exciting because she’s one of my favorite actresses, and you know… Aliens! So I’ve very excited to work with her.
Now that you’ve been through the entire film process with City of Bones, would you ever consider writing a screenplay?
I actually AM writing a screenplay right now! It’s part of the Magisterium series I’m working on with Holly Black and we’re co-producing with Unique Features. The first book comes out next year, and as part of the deal they said, “Would you like to write the screenplay?” Back when they first asked me to write the screenplay for City of Bones I said no. But now I’ve seen so many screenplays and looked over so many different versions of them, I feet more confident. So this time I said yes. Holly and I are writing it, and I’m really excited about that.
Can you share a memorable moment with your friend and Magisterium collaborator Holly Black?
Oh, my God. There are SO MANY! We have had such a great time collaborating. The Magisterium is set in underground caves so a memorable moment is when we decided to road trip down to caverns in West Virginia to explore inside caves so we would have a better sense of what we were describing and what they looked like underground. But once we got down there, we looked at each other and decided we were too scared to go into the caves…so we just turned around and went back home.
What are you working on now?
Literally this week I am putting the finishing touches on the sixth and final book, City of Heavenly Fire, in The Mortal Instruments series, It will bring the story of Jace and Clary to an end and it will release May 27.
Last chapter? NOOOOOOOO! Say it isn’t so!! We are NOT ready for Jace and Clary’s story to end.
Luckily, we can still look forward to snapping up the City of Bones DVD, the next TMI movie, The Infernal Devices series and of course, Magisterium!