'Beautiful Creatures' Star Alice Englert on Why She Committed to a Potential Franchise-Starting Film

9:36 AM PST 02/13/2013 by Rebecca Ford
Warner Bros. Pictures
Alice Englert in "Beautiful Creatures"

"It's rare to move to making a big film without feeling compromised," says the actress, who is the daughter of filmmaker Jane Campion.

Alice Englert was destined to work in the film industry. The daughter of filmmakers Colin Englert and Jane Campion -- the first woman to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes, for The Piano, for which she also won the screenplay Oscar -- Englert has the industry in her blood.

“It’s the only thing I understand,” she says. “Stories are the only thing that I can be bothered with. It’s the only way that I can do anything, even if I’m quite useless. It’s the only area in being human where I could be a little useful.”

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Englert, who starred in one of her mother’s short films at age 12, easily could have made a life working in independent film, the realm where her mother rules.

Instead, she took on the lead role in Beautiful Creatures, a romance drama film based on the first book in extremely popular Caster Chronicles young-adult series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Depending on how well the first film does when it hits theaters Feb. 14, Englert, 18, could become the face of another popular teen romance series, much like Twilight.

Englert admits that she at first was not interested in playing Lena Duchannes, the mysterious girl with supernatural powers who moves to the Southern town of Gatlin and catches the eye of a young local man (Alden Ehrenreich).

“I originally didn’t want to do the film because I didn’t read the script and I’d had a strange pitch, which did sound a little bit to me something that could be quite generic,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

But director Richard LaGravenese kept pursuing her, and after meeting with him and reading the script, New Zealand-born Englert changed her mind.

“The bad pitch just disappeared, and I thought that it’s so rare -- as someone who comes from independent theater in my family and in what I’m generally drawn to just because of creative purposes -- it’s rare to move to making a big film without feeling compromised,” she says.

Englert, who starred in the 2012 film Ginger & Rosa, adds that the script for Beautiful Creatures seemed as if it wasn’t “bound by its genre, wasn’t bound by the cliches it was playing with.”

The film was also not bound by the storyline of the book. LaGravenese made changes to the story and also told the actors that they didn’t have to read the book if they didn’t want to.

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“I was afraid of feeling nervous about loyalty to the book, so I wanted to work from the material I had been given first up and the character I had created with that material,” says Englert, who chose not to read the book.

Englert, who says her contract has her signed up for two more films if the studio decides to make them, emphasizes that she has no interest in becoming the next Kristen Stewart.

“I just think that that sort of attention is actually unhealthy,” she says of a possible life in the limelight. “I think that sometimes they like you, sometimes they don’t like you, it doesn't have that much to do with you.”

“I personally have no interest in it simply out of a selfish want to be happy as opposed to being seen,” she adds. "I don’t think being seen makes you happy."

But that doesn’t mean that Englert has ruled out a career in franchise or mainstream films.

“I would never want to do something just for the sake of being independent or for the sake of doing big films,” she says. “I’m always surprised by the material I’m attracted to. And that’s how I like it. I like to be surprised.”

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford

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