Jamie Campbell Bower Talks Tattoos, Fantasy Roles & Bulking Up
While we gave you possibly the best Valentine’s Day present of all time — interviews on Jamie Campbell Bower and Lily Collins‘ chemistry in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones — we promised that we’d give you more TMI goodies. And we always keep our promises. During our visit to the Toronto set of the film, we sat down with Jamie, who plays (hot) Shadowhunter Jace Wayland. Read on as he talks about getting into shape for the role, his roles in other big franchises — like Harry Potter and Twilight! — and, possibly most importantly, his runes (tattoos in lamens terms).
Teen: You’re heavily involved in other big-named movies. Were you nervous to sign onto this one, since the others were so successful?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I think I’m nervous to sign on to any job. I think when I was first approached about this, I wasn’t made aware of the fact that they were possibly thinking about making it into a franchise, so for me, it was — this was a one-film deal. If it goes for another two, if it goes for another three, however many, that’s great, but right now we’re focusing on this one and doing this one and getting that as good as I can make it rather than focus on it as a brand and making it into a brand.
Teen: Harry Potter, Twilight, TMI — are you drawn to fantasy roles specifically?
Jamie: Maybe it’s just the way I look. [Laughs] I think I’m always drawn to a good story. I’m always drawn to something, you know — nowadays, I think it’d be foolish; it would be ignorant to believe that something that a studio has to make — something that they know is going to be successful or make money and Mortal Instruments is a great series of books that taps into a genre that is very popular and I think that a lot of studios are making those kinds of movies now, so is it that there’s opportunities? Yeah, of course there’s opportunities. This is a great story and that’s why I’m interested in it ultimately.
Teen: There’s a lot of action in this film. How did you bulk up before shooting?
Jamie: Physically, I’ve trained really hard for it. I started training four months — three months before we started shooting, and I sort of toyed around with different physical forms and at the end of it, what I wanted was to get to a point whereby we’ve seen this sort of big jock kind of character before and I didn’t want that and I didn’t really think that that was something that I believe, particularly, you know, with my younger cousins or whatever being girls that they’re really into — you know, the 15-year-old markets — I don’t know if that’s as sexy as it once was anymore. I think it’s more about the rock star or the girls that I, you know, the 15-year-old girls they’re into, like, skinny motherf****** from bands and the sort of lost souls and all that kind of s*** and I love that and I think that’s really cool. Ultimately, at the end of that, what I wanted to do is I built up the muscle, and then I just trimmed everything down and just got super lean and it was really tough; really, really hardcore. I did a lot of stunt training; a lot of fight training and physically kind of ruined myself, but in the best way possible. It wasn’t like I was doing stupid s*** because I was doing stuff that was good for me, but, you know, you wake up at 5 o’clock every morning, and do three hours of training, then you have a half an hour to eat, and then you go back and do another two hours, then half an hour to go and sleep, and maybe have a shower if you’re lucky, and then go through lines or learn the piano and all this kind of stuff. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s part of what I enjoy about it.
Teen: Can you talk about your runes (a.k.a. tattoos)?
Jamie: Each tattoo has a specific power, so I’m covered in them and I have real tattoos as well, so my real tattoos have to get covered and then runes get put on top of my real tattoos. I think I should just get runes tattooed all over me, then at least I wouldn’t have to spend three hours in the makeup chair because I’d spend fifteen hours in the tattoo parlor and be done with it for the rest of my life.
Teen: We see you doing a flip in the trailer. What was that like?
Jamie: Harald [Zwart, the director], when Lily and I first got here, before we started shooting, we did a lot of pre-production stuff and fight training and sort of just warming up to being here while everything is going on, it’s nice to have those moments. So we were doing a lot of stunt stuff and Harald was like, “I don’t want any wires; I don’t want any wire work. I don’t want that. I want it to be very much — If you’re going to do something, if you’re going to do a flip, then you need to be able to do a flip. If you’re going to do a jump, you need to be able to do a jump” and all this kind of stuff. So for me, learning how to do flips onto tables off the mini-tram was really exciting because that’s me doing that in the movie. That’s nobody else. That’s not a facial placement. There’s no wires there. That’s me jumping from the floor onto a table doing a flip in midair, which I know sounds really stupid, but the 14-year-old boy inside me goes, “That’s f****ing awesome. That’s so cool.” I really appreciate those moments and I appreciate the fact that Harald’s been able to do that. And yeah some stuff isn’t going to look as, you know, necessarily as slick as something like, I don’t know, Crouching Tiger where there was a lot of wire work and all that kind of stuff. We know that it’s real and I know that it’s real and I love the fact that we’re able to do that and it is very physically demanding, yeah. But there’s a big payoff at the end, a big, big payoff. Hopefully. [Laughs] It’s nice to be able to go to bed at night and go, “Yeah, I tried my hardest… Oh well, we’ll see.”
Stay tuned for more on-set interviews and exclusives with the cast on Teen.com!