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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Jamie Campbell Bower interview

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JAMIE Campbell Bower talks about the appeal of playing Jace in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and what he really felt about the scathing reaction against him from certain fans once he was cast.

He also talks about working with special effects, getting tattoos to mark each film role and why he feels that there is much more going on with each character’s journey in the film than merely a love triangle. He was speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. Jace is a cool guy. He’s like the guy most guys would like to be. He’s a mysterious stranger who turns up, is incredibly charming, and can slay demons with one hand tied behind his back. He must have been a fun role?
Jamie Campbell Bower: He’s everything that I’m not, basically! Performance is always a very cathartic process for me. I’m not particularly cool, put it that way. He was a great character to play. It was tough. I put a lot of work and a lot of effort into it. A lot of the characters that I’ve played beforehand have been fairly, let’s say, soft. Or rounded…physically. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, you have the book, and there’s a guy there with his shirt off and he’s looking pretty buff, and I had to get into that physical shape. I’ve always liked to push myself, I’ve always liked to challenge myself in some way. Without that, I’d be getting quite bored, I have quite a short attention span. It was fun, and it was difficult. Learning how to hone my skills in terms of stunts and fighting was a real joy. I did come out of it the other side going: “Oh, thank god it’s Christmas!”

Q. Some years ago, when you were doing a TV series called The Prisoner, you said, perhaps jokingly, that you’d always have some kind of body art, a tattoo, to mark each of your projects. I wondered if that’s still true, and if you had anything to mark the filming of this movie?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I was meant to go in today but the tattoo parlour round the corner is closed today. It’s where I get most of my stuff done. I’m getting, “I am after all what you made me”, which is a quote from one of the later books, with two roses on my back. Recently, I got a skull and a cross on my arm, and the back of my legs are all done, so yeah.

Harald Zwart [director] cuts in: And we need to cover it all up every day when we shoot!

Jamie Campbell Bower: I’m sitting in there for like, five hours, six hours. I’ve got a conversation going on with Gersha [Phillips], our costume designer, so I think it’ll be long sleeves from now on.

Q. Was it hard to cover it up for each day?
Jamie Campbell Bower: Yeah, it took about four hours to cover up, then to put on the tattoos over the top. But I quite like having them there underneath the make-up, I like to know I’m still Jamie underneath all that. That’s one of the reasons I have them. So, I know it’s me, wherever I go I know who I am.

Q. You’ve said in interviews before that the fans weren’t responding to you well. Do you feel that’s changed now, the closer you’ve got to the release of the movie?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I think upon being cast I was very aware of the negative reaction from the fans. I think I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t aware of that. That reaction was based on image and image/looks alone and that was two and a half years ago. As an actor and as a performer, I’m very much aware of the fact that my job is to change both physically and emotionally and that was what hurt the most – the fact that people were judging me based on nothing. I’ve been told not to swear but… It’s fine and I get it. Sometimes, particularly with things like social media, or particularly with something like the Internet, there is no brain to hand co-ordination. People don’t think. It’s like this continuous diarrhoea. People don’t really understand that that affects people. I think particularly now and I think what is happening in recent history should show the fact, particularly with young people, that that is not acceptable. I just don’t think that that’s acceptable in any way, shape or form. I’m not saying that it affected me in such a way. It hasn’t. It affected me, for sure, somewhat. But not too much.

Have I seen the reaction change? Yeah, I think so. It’s always hard for anyone in our position, as an actor I suppose, to receive praise because I think naturally as people we are quite self-deprecating and we do what we do because I think sometimes we’re looking for recognition in some way, shape or form. So, I have seen a reaction. I was very fortunate enough to receive a book that had been made by the fans that came together and that is something that I look at every day and that I’m very grateful for. I carry it with me, it’s in my bag, and it’s this book of all these pictures that support Jamie as Jace around the world. I feel incredibly honoured to have that/ But if there’s one thing that someone could take from this answer, or this monologue, is that next time before you judge anyone, just think, just use your brain. Don’t be an idiot. It’s annoying.

Q. How was working with the special effects?
Jamie Campbell Bower: What’s fascinating about this industry is that when you shoot, things are made so much more difficult than they have to be. Like, with the things they use to carve the rooms, we had battery packs that were the size of this bottle of water strapped to our backs with wires being taped down our entire arms and our backs. I went to something the other day and the merchandise is just a battery operated small pack. I was like: “Why didn’t we have that when we were shooting?”

Q. What was your favourite item to wear?
Jamie Campbell Bower: The leather trousers are great. Everyone’s always asking, the leather must be really difficult to wear? It’s quite constricting! But leather is actually like a really versatile material. Although I ripped mine. But that’s because I was doing superhero jumps and then the crutch would go. I’d be like: “I’m going to need a clean-up on aisle three over here!” If you look very closely at some of the stunt scenes you can see there’s rips appearing and then they’re disappearing… no, no, our continuity is brilliant. Please, let me do the second movie!!

Q. At the heart of this epic film is a relatable love triangle. How was working on that? And for Clary, why was it important to have two such different men to choose from?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I think every character goes on their own journey. Jace is a Shadow Hunter prior to the movie starting. He goes out there and he kills demons and he protects the human world. His world his turned upside down by her [Clary] introduction, so his entire motivation and shift is because of her entrance. Now, I don’t want to speak on Robert’s behalf but Simon is someone who’s been a part of Clary’s life, and so he is thrown into the world of the Shadow hunters and he’s trying to find his voice at the same time. So, it was never something that we came at together and went ‘this is the main focus of our story’. The main focus is actually the journey that each character specifically has to go on, which is what makes it an ensemble and actually what makes it an interesting piece, because you can relate to every single character. I can see bits of myself in all of them. There’s not one character that I don’t understand what they’re going through. So, I think for each of us, we were very focused on our own journey within our own love story.

Read our review of The Mortal Instruments

Read our interview with Lily Collins

Read our interview with Robert Sheehan