The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Robert Sheehan interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
ROBERT Sheehan talks about some of the challenges of making The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and getting into the character of Simon.
He also talks about dealing with the fan anticipation and their excitement at premieres and why he would invent a getting up in the morning rune if given the choice. He was speaking at a UK press conference…
Q. Simon is kind of the eyes and ears of the audience, to this fantastical world. He deals with seeing a lot of this stuff in a very funny way. Was he a fun character for you to play, or did you want a sword in your hand and to help with the demon-slaying?
Robert Sheehan: There’s always comedy to be juiced from being the guy at the back of the group who’s not doing any of the slaying. He’s doing all the cowering. Also, tumbling into this world and being the normal eyes in this very abnormal world, makes you frown and ask: “What the hell is going on?” every five or 10 minutes. It’s true, the audience do need someone like that, and it is myself, and it’s also Lily’s character Clary, who’s very much the normal character tumbling into this crazy world. It was lovely fun. The good thing about Simon and about keeping that was Harald saying: “Look, it’s got to be real.” My instinct tends to be toward ‘performance’. And towards gesticulating wildly in every direction. You may have seen it in my other work! But it was very much Harald reigning me back and going: “It’s got to be real, it’s got to be absolutely real, this guy is very normal, somewhat elitist, somewhat bookish.” It was a new discovery for me, and it was real fun. Really, really enjoyable.
Q. Did you have to do any training to get into shape for the movie, and what was the hardest thing you had to do?
Robert Sheehan: My training was very much: “Sleep, just have a sleep in. The rest of them are going to go and do stunt choreography, you just show up for the filming bit and put a T-shirt on.”
Q. How are you dealing with the whole build up to the release of the movie, and the hype and expectation of the movie?
Robert Sheehan: These guys have been on a more significant promotional tour than me. I was doing a small film, so I wasn’t available up until – I was at Comic Con, and then the LA press, and then Toronto. So, even just that has turned me upside down. It’s been fairly hysterical, there’s been a feverish anticipation amongst the fans, and every time we show up to a premiere there’s hundred of fans that have been there for 12 hours, camped out. It absolutely bowls me over. I remember we were in Toronto, and we’d done some stuff. The next day we got up for morning television, and I promptly went back to bed after morning television and then got back up. Having done a premiere, the thoughts of another premiere ahead, was just…
It’s mustering the energy and the enthusiasm. But the thing is, once I got there, the fanaticism and the energy just coasted me a long. It was just infectious. And that was due to the fans. Everything has been, for me thankfully, adrenaline has kicked in in the key moments. Like right now, for example! It’s been an absolute eye-opener. Comic Con was my first real experience of the expectation. I’m not a very savvy social media person, I’m not on, checking the traffic. I don’t really know how to use Twitter very well. So it was there that I first realised: “Wow, the anticipation is huge!” And since then it’s been building and building. When we show up to premieres, at times it’s like Beatlemania. We’re getting out of our cars and there’s hundreds of people screaming, and it’s just, it’s very hard to compute.
Q. If you could choose to draw a rune in real life what would it be?
Robert Sheehan: The get up in the morning rune, to keep me awake. That’s one thing that I could really do with, just getting my motor running without copious amounts of caffeine in the morning. If I could draw on myself, that would be what I’d draw. Even if I’ve had eight hours sleep, I’ll still get up and for the first hour or two have one eye closed and nearly be hit by a bus. If I could be one of those morning people, that would be a great rune to have.
Q. Did you have a favourite outfit to wear?
Robert Sheehan: Well, before they get into all the complex stuff, I would say my Nike high tops – grey, pink, very cool, very sporty, very vintage.
*Q. 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?”
Robert Sheehan: Simon is very much tumbling into this crazy other world. In a way, Clary is very much his focus. She’s the hand that he’s holding onto. As he’s experiencing this world, I think the thing that irks him the most is not all the demonic forces, it’s the fact that Clary is falling for this other guy and that’s probably the thing for Simon. I think probably he’s an old romantic. So, seeing this happen is kind of the subtext for his journey until he puts his hand to the fire and declares his love for her. So, it was nice because that’s his focus and that’s his thread through this world.