The Host - Jared (Max Irons) ©2013 Open Road Films

Up-and-coming star Max Irons portrays Jared in the new  sci fi movie The Host, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), directed by Andrew Niccol, who also wrote the screenplay.

For Jared, his world has been turned upside down. Aliens, known as Souls, have colonized Earth, displacing humans from their own bodies, turning them into hosts for the interplanetary travelers. While they have transformed the planet into a clean, safe and peaceful world, it is at an unthinkable cost.

Jared’s girlfriend, Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) has been taken over by an alien named Wanderer, who Melanie tricks into going to her family’s hideout in the desert, where a band of humans are still fighting the aliens, led by her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt). There she sees Jared again – but can he trust her?

I spoke with Max in Los Angeles recently about his journey into the world of sci fi.

You’re going to have a lot of young girls in love with you when this movie comes out. What is your biggest concern about that?

Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) and Jared (Max Irons) ©2013 Open Road Films

I don’t know. The idea of that seems nuts. I try not to think about stuff like that, because I think it’s consequential of what I do for a living and, dare I say, superficial.

I love coming to LA and working, but I don’t want to live here, because it’s a city built around movies and I need to go home to be with my friends who aren’t all actors, to have a bit of normality in my life. If I can fight to maintain that, I will.

This film has a complicated love relationship. Was it easy to grasp when Saoirse was Melanie and Wanderer?

Jared (Max Irons), Ian (Jake Abel) and Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Open Road Films

Actually it’s a credit to Saoirse, she had the difficult job. She had to clearly define two characters, which she did seemingly effortlessly. For me, Jared had to respond as a human would to that conundrum.

What interested me in terms of the dynamic of the relationship was Jared’s struggle, the idea in this dystopian world where we are no longer at the top of the food chain, we are surviving in caves, you’ve lost all your friends and family.

Jared (Max Irons) and Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Open Road Films

To find someone and fallen in love with them and then to have that person taken, you’ve got to get over that heartbreak and that loss.

Then to have the physical form of the person come back into your life is a daily reminder, except that she’s not who she once was; and then to discover that the girl you love is in fact there but inaccessible, that’s a nightmare.

How do you play the romance in that?

I didn’t have to play any romance. Jared’s whole journey is a struggle, trying to adapt and trying to come to terms with the terrible realities of this situation, which was a nice problem for an actor engage in.

What is your thought on the idea that these aliens are saying, ‘This is for your own good?’

Jared (Max Irons) and Jeb (William Hurt) ©2013 Open Road Films

I think it’s fascinating. We’ve all seen films where the world gets saved by action heroes. I think The Host poses a much more interesting question. Do we need saving from ourselves?

If we look at our history and we look at the state of the world today, we’re clearly doing something wrong. I think Andrew boiled down Stephenie’s book and focused very nicely on the interesting science fiction themes.

So it wasn’t just for me a tale of romance under unfortunate circumstances, it was a tale of human survival that posed interesting, philosophical questions.

Jared (Max Irons) and Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Open Road Films

What was it like working with Saoirse?

She is always spot on and perfectly informed. It still amazes me that she was 17 when we shot the film.

I worked most closely with her and with William Hurt, two masters of their craft, and both were so humble, patient and generous.

You can see Max talk about his famous parents, Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack, at the press conference in the video below.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.