“As a romantic, I wanted to write a story from point of view of a girl who made that love worthwhile”
The much anticipated feature film adaptation of Lauren Kate’s worldwide bestselling young adult novel, Fallen comes to the big screen with a cast of exciting young stars and directed by award-winning Australian director Scott Hicks.
Hicks (Shine) directed the film with a script by Michael Ross. The original screenplay was adapted by Kathryn Price and Nicole Millard.
Fallen is seen through the eyes of Lucinda ‘Luce’ Price (Addison Timlin), a strong-willed seventeen-year-old living a seemingly ordinary life until she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. Sent off to the imposing Sword & Cross reform school, Luce finds herself being courted by two young men to whom she feels oddly connected (Jeremy Itvine and Harrison Gilbertson). Isolated and haunted by strange visions, Luce begins to unravel the secrets of her past and discovers the two men are fallen angels, competing for her love for centuries. Luce must choose where her feelings lie, pitting Heaven against Hell in an epic battle over true love.
Published in 2009 from debut author Lauren Kate, Fallen topped the New York Times’ best sellers list, inspiring three sequels and a prequel to complete the series. To date the series has sold over 9 million copies across 30 countries around the world.
“Luce and Daniel’s story created a global community of fans. I think of this movie as a love letter to them,” says Kate.
“I’m delighted to have directed Fallen.,” says Hicks. “I was drawn in by the intriguing premise of Lauren Kate’s story, the powerful array of memorable characters, and the timeless romance between Luce and Daniel. I enjoyed working with a very fine cast, including the exceptionally promising talents of Addison, Jeremy and Harrison, and the remarkable Joely Richardson,” says Hicks.
The story behind the adaptation of Lauren Kate’s best-selling young adult novel Fallen began some two years ago when Scott Hicks, the acclaimed Australian director whose international hit Shine won its leading actor Geoffrey Rush a Best Actor Academy Award, was approached by producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Grey of Mayhem Productions. The novel hadn’t been published so the producers were taking a gamble but the emotional power of the book’s story, its raw passion and the intriguing characters it introduced, proved a compelling draw for the director.
“I was intrigued by the story,” explains Hicks. “It’s essentially a gothic teen romance that has been going on for a thousand years. I really liked the characters and felt that there was a real possibility of doing something very interesting and which was not just centred around visual effects but was about characters the audience could really care about. And the characters would be complex enough to sustain a series of films. So it was a chance for me to make a film in a genre I hadn’t done before.
“I also liked the idea of the closed world of the reform school Sword & Cross where no one has cell phones or computers or the accoutrements of modern life,” he goes on. “It meant that the relationships have to be founded on the people themselves and how they interact. I was intrigued by the strange group of youngsters Luce encounters there and how she responds to them – Luce is at a very low point of her life and she has no idea what’s going on and doesn’t understand why the people and situations there feel familiar. We know a great deal more than she does. I found the unravelling of that mystery fascinating.”
“Unbeknownst to Luce, she and Daniel have been in love for all eternity,” continues Hicks. “It takes a while for her to discover who this strange young man who seems so familiar but who she’s never met before is, and it’s also a journey of discovery for herself too. At same time, the third person in the triangle, Cam, is very eager to engage with her and she finds it very difficult to sort out the puzzle of what’s going on between these people. It’s a very mysterious and romantic story, not one of flowers and hearts, but one of passion and the danger of love and romance and I wanted to focus on that”.
Indeed, Lauren Kate was first inspired to write the Fallen novels by the romance in the story of fallen angels giving up their place in heaven for the untested love of human women that appears in Genesis. “As a romantic, I wanted to write a story from point of view of a girl who made that love worthwhile,” she says. “The idea of a love that has cosmic consequences and that addresses deep betrayals and big motivations has always reached me deeply and I’m happy that they reached others through my books. Luce has an obsession with making impossible love possible. She falls in love with Daniel but that love dies, and she’s desperate to break the curse because she believes the love is worth it. Her openness and deep faith in the power of love is her defining characteristic. Luce is lost when we meet her and every day is an obstacle but Daniel is a ray of light even though he acts badly. She makes her world about him. It’s a deep faith in love that’s very admirable.”
It was the battle between the two young rivals for Luce’s affections that also intrigued the director. He says: “Cam and Daniel have that strange mix of being almost brothers in that they’re bound into this story and yet there’s also an intense rivalry between them. They don’t represent good and bad, they’re both fallen angels, so therefore they’re both bad boys and it’s a struggle between them about higher issues in a mythological world. Luce is a pivotal character in that and they both want to assert control over her destiny.”
Hicks spent some eight months working on the screenplay with collaborator Michael Ross. “It was a fantastic collaboration,” says Ross. “We were both drawn to the timelessness and romance of the story and the challenge was turning the novel into a 90 minute movie but it was an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Lauren Kate had, not unsurprisingly, some hesitation about the novel’s being adapted for the big screen. At her first meeting with Scott Hicks, however, those feelings were swept aside. “Any nervousness I felt about giving my story away was allayed,” she says. “Scott gets it, he’s wise, he has a very sensual perspective of the story, and he connects to same things as my readers. It was crucial to me that the film convey the essence of the story. We talked a lot about the chemistry between the characters, not just Luce and Daniel, but between them all, and they had to be executed perfectly and Scott had a solid grasp on that and that filtered down through the cast.”
“Characters always start the book for me,” continues the author. “What Luce taught me, when she wants to do something, I have to follow her. The book comes alive when characters come alive. What’s delighted me most about visiting the set is to realise that there’s a whole energy and world that exists between lines I wrote and beyond the pages. Seeing the actors portray the characters in ways that is so faithful to who they are. It’s exciting to find that they are alive in their own right.”
Satisfying the Readers
Lauren Kate’s Fallen launched a series of five novels that took the publishing world by storm. Published in 2009, Fallen introduced a group of memorable characters and a compelling romance that spanned the eras and enthralled young adults around the world. The series – Fallen, Torment, Passion, Rapture and the Fallen in Love collection of novellas set in the Middle Ages – has become a smash hit with over XX (INSERT LATEST FIGURES) million copies sold in North America alone. Her stories, featuring star-crossed lovers and fallen angels, has sold in over 30 countries around the world.
It’s no surprise then that the filmmakers were keenly aware of the novels’ fans while they were writing and making the film adaptation. It was with a mixture of excitement, trepidation and anxiety that the cast had to deal with the thought that the fans would be watching their every move!
“It’s been exciting knowing they’re out there and cool to share in their excitement,” says Addison Timlin. “I’ve felt a responsibility to respect them. You have to acknowledge it’s because of the audience that you’re here. It’s great to have this group are out there rooting for you. They’re a powerful group and it’s lovely to love something and to care about something so much. There’s also a certain terror in disappointing them but I do read tweets I get or letters I’ve got and they love this character in a way I completely understand. I hope we did the books justice. I think the fans will be pleased in how we’ve translated it to film because we’ve stayed true to the story.”
Jeremy Irvine agrees: “It’s different to other movies because of its huge fan base,” he says. “I hope the fans will want to see it, and we’ve had no choice but to make it good. That’s scary and increases the pressure as an actor.”
That the film was set up before the novel was published has meant the filmmakers have watched the fan base grow during development and pre-production. “When we set the film up, the book hadn’t come out so we didn’t know if it was going to be a hit,” says producer Mark Ciardi. “It did and it’s been really exciting to see it come together. When Lauren Kate came on set, she said it felt that the characters were completely true to what she had conceived. It was very exciting to see her reaction to it coming to life.”
“The novel has sold over XX (INSERT LATEST FIGURE) million copies worldwide,” says executive producer Campbell McInnes. “With such a successful series, our duty was to stay true to the story in terms of filming, character and tone.”
As far as Lauren Kate is concerned, that duty has been resoundingly fulfilled: “The readers are thrilled!” she says. “They can’t wait! I see the movie as a love letter to the community of readers.”