The Host is “a bit like Gattaca,” says Andrew Niccol

The Host’s Andrew Niccol on “going further” with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight follow-up

Max Irons as Jeremy Howe carries Saoirse Ronan's Melanie Stryder
Max Irons as Jeremy Howe carries Saoirse Ronan’s Melanie Stryder

The Host director Andrew Niccol is known for his original sci-fi ideas, having penned Gattaca and The Truman Show in the past, but this is the first time he’s adapting someone else’s bright idea. It’s Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up to Twilight but there’s no fangs in this teenage love story.

“Stephenie’s gone from a story about a love triangle to a love rectangle in this,” he exclusively told SciFiNow. “I don’t know how she’s going to top herself, maybe a pentagon next time?  That’s obviously something that’s interesting to her and her audience.”

The Host stars Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium) as Melanie Stryder, one of the last remaining humans who hasn’t been taken over by the alien race known as Souls. Until she is. “We always speak of characters having inner conflicts but in this story it’s literally true,” he explains.

“One character is actually inhabited by another, so I found it very interesting to explore and also the way Stephenie Meyer depicted the alien beings. Normally we see them as the enemy but she made them almost more humane than humans and better for the planet.”

Instead of destroying the world, they’ve perfected it. This dream-like and minimalist aesthetic may be familiar to Gattaca fans, as Niccols admits, “There’s probably some hangover of Gattaca in there because that too is a slightly perfected world so there’s a little bit of that in there, but it’s not as sterile.”

Diane Kruger as The Seeker, the film's villain
Diane Kruger as The Seeker, the film’s villain

In the film, Melanie (Ronan) pelts her personal parasite (dubbed Wanderer, or Wanda for short) with memories of her family and lover, Jared Howe (Max Irons). All the while, she’s being pursued by The Seeker, played by Inglourious Basterds‘ Diane Kruger, who wants her to lead them to the last remaining humans in hiding.

“We didn’t want an obviously malevolent villain, because it’s much more interesting that these aliens were killing us with kindness,” he says. “Diane really embraced this idea of when they capture a human being, it was like an intervention rather than an assault.

“I went further than Stephenie [Meyer] did because in the novel they’re armed, they have guns, but I thought it was too violent. I wanted something more subdued and kinder so we invested a kind of futuristic mace and we went with that because even though they’re trying to insert themselves into our bodies, they really don’t want to harm us.”

Read more in issue 78 of SciFiNow. The Host is released in the UK on 29 March 2013.