Video/Q&A: 'Beautiful Creatures' stars Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich on teen angst and Southern accents

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
February 13, 2013|By Dana Moran | RedEye

Loner newcomer captivates resident misfit. Their chemistry crackles, but there’s something a little ... different ... about one of them. Put away your silver daggers--you haven’t caught the rebirth of the “Twilight” series.

In the highly anticipated big-screen adaptation of teen romance-thriller novel “Beautiful Creatures” (opening Thursday), relative unknowns Alden Ehrenreich (“Tetro”) and Alice Englert (the upcoming “Ginger and Rosa”) star as star-crossed lovers Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes. He’s a Gatlin, South Carolina boy with a penchant for Kurt Vonnegut and Bob Dylan; she’s the new girl in town who just happens to be—gasp—a “caster,” a nicer term for witch.

At the Trump International Hotel, L.A. native Ehrenreich, 23, and 19-year-old Australian Englert talked about the “basic survival” of high school, their worst adolescent flaws and how they prepared their Southern accents.

Ethan falls in love pretty quickly with Lena, and it’s clearly been hard for him to find this sort of thing. Do you think that her being a caster was part of what made him fall for her, or was it just her being different?
Alden Ehrenreich: Well, he doesn’t know that, but I think there’s a sense of something exotic and something otherworldly and something more sophisticated, and something he’s never--his whole thing is wanting to experience something he’s never known because he’s had this monotony in his life in this small town, and so I think that it’s just who she is.

Do you think she maybe cast a little of the spell on him too, not knowing it?
Alice Englert: You know, actually, that used to be my favorite song, “I Put A Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. You know it? It’s a great video, very gothic and crazy. No, I think she likes to do it the real way. “Actually like me, please.”

One of the central struggles is that Lena will be claimed by either the dark or the light when she turns 16. It seems like a lot of high school girls are similar--either really nice or kind of dark. Why do you think that happens to girls at that age?
Alice: Actually, I don’t think that they’re kind of nice or they’re dark. I think that all girls of that age, I mean, I’m probably wrong, but I think there’s such a huge level of insecurity and I think that we have so many different conflicting feelings and ideas in our nature … I think that that time is just basic survival. And it’s not about who you are, you just wanna keep being stable enough to get to know who you are. It’s just a very compromising time, and I think hormones really do it. I remember when I was that age I didn’t want to admit that ... [I thought], ”My problems are really important!”... And they were, they were really important to me. But it’s really good to be able to have perspective. To know that that stuff … you get through it because the world is a lot bigger than that.

Both of your characters struggle a little, or a lot, with high school, not necessarily fitting in much. What’s something that you thought was different or awkward about you in high school?
Alice: My hips being like up here [indicates] during puberty, probably. I mean, come on, the whole of high school is pretty awkward, isn’t it?
It is. I think middle school’s probably worse.
Alice: Oh right, you guys have a different ...
Alden: The ages are different.
Alice: What’s middle school?
Alden: Middle school is sixth grade to eighth grade. You’re like 12 to 14.
Alice: Oh yeah, that’s middle school. High school is different.
Alden: I had a lot of acne.
Alice: I kind of left.

That’s a good call.
Alice: So, let that speak for itself.

And what about you, Alden, the acne probably?
Alden: I think the acne was bad, yeah. No one remembers it; none of my friends remember me having it, but I had really bad acne for like years.

That’s something that never leaves you.
Alden: Yeah, well... [touches his face]
Alice: [Laughs.]

On the inside, I mean … Ethan drives around singing Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and doesn’t necessarily know all the words. When you’re driving around, is that a song that you like to sing?
Alden: I mean, I still really am a big Bob Dylan fan, yeah. I listen to a lot of stuff ... I listen to some really bad country.

In high school, I definitely would drive around singing terrible pop-punk, and I had the worst voice for that kind of stuff.
Alden: Really? That’s my favorite memories of high school, driving around singing songs in the car ... with my mom ...
Alice: [Laughs]

Did she let you drive, or...?
Alden: No, me in the backseat, no one in the front seat, and her driving, singing ... what’s the David Cassidy [song]?

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