Gatlin, South Carolina might seem like a sleepy Southern town where nothing ever happens. But, beneath the surface, there are strange and magical forces, rooted in the past, that are about to re-emerge in ways the townspeople can’t even begin to imagine.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, a New York Times bestseller and first in the series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, has been popular all over the world. At the center of the tale is Ethan, a high school senior who wants to break free from his small town existence, and Lena, a Caster, who possesses supernatural powers. She longs to break free from a family curse as she turns 16 and faces The Claiming… and being chosen by the forces of either the Light or the Dark.
The worldwide appeal of the story seems to lie not only in the question of whether love can conquer all between two star-crossed souls, but whether each soul has a choice in his or her own destiny.
That is precisely what drew Academy Award-nominated writer Richard LaGravenese to not only adapt the book but also direct the film. He notes, “I love mythologies, and the mystical world hidden in this small town was very rich. But I was even more intrigued with the bigger idea in the book, this initiation story, which Kami and Margaret told so well. How a young girl who is going to be Claimed must find out who she is, and, at the same time, so must this young man who dares to stand up for her. I thought it was a great, universal idea to play with because all of us have to claim who we are, as individuals, apart from our inherited circumstances.”
Producer Erwin Stoff adds, “The movie is really about a very universal experience in growing up: the ability for somebody at a young age to decide that they don’t necessarily need to accept the role that’s been predetermined for them, but have the opportunity and right to choose a path that suits them.”
The film is being produced under the Alcon Entertainment banner. Producer Andrew A. Kosove states, “The book offered a great combination of romance and supernatural elements. We also really enjoy working with Richard LaGravenese.”
“It’s a Romeo and Juliet love story with a fresh take,” says producer Molly Mickler Smith. “I liked being introduced to this world of the Casters through a Mortal’s point of view, specifically Ethan. Because we are, in fact, Mortals, we can relate to his sense of awe and fear, even as he’s falling for her.”
That point of view interested Alden Ehrenreich, who stars in the role of Ethan Wate. “Ethan believes he can make his world what he wants it to be and win this new girl, who is clearly out of his realm. I think audiences will have fun going on the ‘ride’ with him and being inside his head as he tries.”
It is Lena’s individuality in a town of conformity that immediately strikes a chord with Ethan. Alice Englert, who plays the young Caster, shares, “What really drew me to the film was the idea of these huge supernatural struggles between good and evil told through the context of very human feelings.”
That dance between the Caster and Mortal world is not only one of Light and Dark but of the past and present, all of which weaves an intricate adventure that impacts the future.
Producer David Valdes comments, “The whole concept of the juxtaposition of contemporary time with the history of generations of Casters that have lived in this little Southern town really grabbed me. I think Richard did an amazing job capturing this familiar yet otherworldly milieu.”
“Richard had a very unique way of getting into the book, balancing the dark aspects of fantasy and humor, which fascinated us. We were also very grateful to have the authors’ enthusiasm and support of his vision,” adds producer Broderick Johnson.
Author Margaret Stohl says, “From the very beginning, Richard and the producers really got the characters and understood the universe we had established. We really trusted that their goals aligned with ours, which was very important to us.” “I was amazed with Richard’s screenplay,” Stohl’s writing partner, Kami Garcia, shares. “It was overwhelming to see him take that much care and put so much detail into a world that existed only on paper and in the readers’ minds.”
LaGravenese notes, “At the start, Margaret and Kami told me as long as we got the spirit and the essence of the book, they’d be happy. Within the time constraints of a movie, we definitely had to streamline some elements and characters, so I was thrilled when they said we really captured what they were going for, mainly a love story.”