Exclusive Interview: Shawn Carter Peterson Talks The Host
The Host will be giving Stephenie Meyer fans the love and action they’ve been looking for after the end of the Twilight series. Film Equals was happy to speak with Shawn Carter Peterson, who plays Wes in the film. Peterson told Film Equals more about the film, the fun of playing in an alien film and the benefit of sympathetic “bad guys”. The Host will be in theaters March 29.
What can you share about your character, Wes?
Shawn Carter Peterson: My character is one in a group of humans that live in a community hiding from the aliens, so that was a fun concept, to be hiding out from aliens that have taken over the earth. I kind of looked at it more from a fantasy point of view, [like] when I was a kid and we would play Star Wars, so that was kind of cool, to get to play out a big kid’s dream.
What was it like being a part of this film?
Shawn Carter Peterson: It was pretty awesome. It was almost surreal because you know what it is–going into it, you know you’re working on a Stephenie Meyer film, but when you get there, you see how big it really, really is…it was really, really surreal while we were shooting. I [thought], “I’m a part of something big.” It was nice.
In the film, you’re working with Soairse Ronan and Diane Kruger. What’s it like working with them, especially Diane Kruger, who’s been in the business for so long?
Shawn Carter Peterson: Diane Kruger was really, really great. It was funny because when I went for my wardrobe fitting, I had to go in the hair and makeup trailer and she was in there getting her hair done on the first day. I was a little starstruck because I watched her work in Inglorious Basterds and I had to take that moment and honor that and be like, “Hey, I thought you were awesome.” To get to work with her kind of made you feel like, “I’m doing something right. I’m in this kind of company; I’m doing something right.”
This film is based on Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up novel to Twilight, and is a unique take on an alien invasion. What do you think this movie adds to that kind of alien invasion genre?
Shawn Carter Peterson: I think it adds, believe it or not, humanity to it because we get a different perspective…In an alien invasion where the alien takes over the human’s body, you never know what’s going on inside that person’s head. So, the way that this happens is kind of cool because I don’t think we’ve ever heard that voice before. Saoirse Ronan plays Wanda, who’s basically taken over by an alien, but we as the audience are in her head, so we here that there’s two people in there and we hear the fight between the two. The alien is no longer this evil, bloodsucker that’s going to take over her body and take over the world. You get to see that the alien kind of has a heart too, you know what I mean? And I think that’s cool because that’s where the conflict comes in. We can relate to the alien inside of her and the human being…You kind of have an inner war too, which is really, really cool.
For those who haven’t read The Host, how do you think they’ll react to the film? What do you think they’ll like about the film?
Shawn Carter Peterson: There are a couple of love stories in there. I think people will like that. The film itself has a lot for everybody. The people that love love stories will enjoy that. There will be that conflict going on inside Saoirse Ronan’s character–one of them loves one guy and one of them loves the other. There’s this human body that has to contend with these two beings inside of her, fighting it out…In the meantime, there’s a big story about family and community that I think everybody can really relate to. Having to take care of your family and keeping out the “bad guys” is something that we all can identify with…And then, there’s a lot of action. There’s a lot of great sets, there are great cars, there are chases. There’s death, there’s blowing things up. It’s got a little bit of everything.
After Twilight came out, tons of other films have come out making monsters who were once reviled into creatures that you sympathize with, like Warm Bodies. What do you think about this trend in making monsters and aliens likable?
Shawn Carter Peterson: Well, I think that it’s funny that it’s happening now because I think it’s something that was kind of needed. Aside from, let’s say, Frankenstein, which was back in the [’30s]…monsters have always been kind of one-dimensional and I think it’s funny that they’re trying to make monsters…more accessible…[W]e spend a lot of time in this country demonizing other people, whether they are from another land or our own and I think we’re all seeing as a group of people that no adversary is just one dimensional, whether it be from outer space or whether it be a zombie…I think that makes it more interesting because you might find yourself rooting for the zombie or the alien, or you might not. But that makes the story that much more interesting for the viewer because they need some sort of conflict. Otherwise, you just go shoot ’em up and there’s no sort of buy-in for the viewer.
A lot of people end up rooting for the underdog or the villain because they see there’s still some humanity left in the character. I think through these characters, we’re tying to learn more about ourselves and I think that’s pretty interesting.
Shawn Carter Peterson: I think so, too because I think what happened in the past, because we were creating these one-dimensional characters, we didn’t really acknowledge the war that many of us have inside, between the good side and the bad side…[W]e all get caught up in life’s situations and having to make decisions and we don’t want to be seen as the villain.
(Headshot Photo Credit: Benny Haddad)