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Behind the Scenes of 'The Lovely Bones' with Saoirse Ronan

And Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Rachel Weisz and Rose McIver

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Mark Wahlberg and Saoirse Ronan in 'The Lovely Bones'

Mark Wahlberg and Saoirse Ronan in 'The Lovely Bones'

© DreamWorks Pictures
Updated February 27, 2014
The feature film adaptation of Alice Sebold's bestselling book The Lovely Bones is one of the most anticipated movies of 2009, even among those who haven't read the critically acclaimed novel. Peter Jackson directs (and also adapted the book along with his writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) and Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, and Rose McIver star in the touching family drama which took a lot out of the actors emotionally. Together for the LA press conference in support of the DreamWorks Pictures film, the actors admitted this wasn't an easy film to be a part of due to the subject matter.

The Lovely Bones follows the murder of an innocent 14 year old girl, Susie Salmon (Ronan), and the devasting affect her death has on every member of her family. Weisz and Wahlberg play her loving parents, McIver's her brave younger sister, and Sarandon takes on the part of her boozy grandmother who moves in to help the family out. But it's Stanley Tucci who has the most difficult part of all. Tucci plays Mr. Harvey, the creepy neighbor who takes Susie's life and then watches the family's pain from his house across the street.

The Lovely Bones Press Conference – Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon and Rose McIver

How did you meet and bond as sisters?

Saoirse Ronan: "Well, we met in Pennsylvania and I had just come off another movie so I was straight over to meet everyone. I think we met the first day."

Rose McIver: "Yeah, we spent a lot of time at the Salmon house where we would shoot. We did a little kind of getting to know each other as a family and getting to know the dog that would play Holiday."

Saoirse Ronan: "We just sort of bonded for those two weeks. And I think because Rose and I are pretty close in age…well, there’s six years of a difference but we feel like we’re very close, we bonded from the off, really. We get on very, very well. She’s one of our best friends."

Rose McIver: "And neither of us have sisters so we kind of took each other."

Saoirse Ronan: "But yeah, it’s great though because even though we didn’t really have that many scenes together in the movie, we got to hang out when I was in New Zealand. And we still keep in touch and everything."

Since there was so much cut, do you get anything from the book or just the script?

Rachel Weisz: "I think it’s really wonderful to have that. I mean, the script was very beautiful but it’s a huge bonus to have a novel as well which will give you the interior life of your character, give you their backstory, their biography. So for me, it was only a huge extra help, great fuel for your imagination. So I went back to the book many, many times to get a feeling of Abigail."

Are there things missing?

Rachel Weisz: "There are lots of things that we shot that couldn’t make it into the final movie because, as [Peter Jackson] said, it would have to be a miniseries basically if you wanted to get all of the character stories in. So yes, there were things for everybody’s characters that didn’t make it."

Did Peter jazz the grandmother character up to give the audience a chance to breathe?

Susan Sarandon: "That’s just a great period and the designers and everything, it was very collaborative. It was such a really good old time, in terms of style and everything else. I remember those eyelashes and snapping those in. The fun part was working out how do you clean your house with a drink and a cigarette. That was a new area for me."

Is it all part of her coping with grief?

Susan Sarandon: "Well, obviously she’s been self-medicating for years and in anticipation of something bad. But yeah, I think she’s the one, maybe she mourns in another movie but not in this movie because that’s not my job. My job is to keep things moving forward. It’s a really great choice to have somebody that’s completely inept be the one that tries to keep the house going, because if I was a really seemingly solid knitting granny who you would expect to come forward and play, it’d be really boring. But the fact that she’s throwing ashes simultaneously everywhere she’s cleaning, I think it allows the audience to [laugh] in an appropriate way."

"I just love the fact that that’s the way life is. When something horrible happens, you do find yourself laughing in weird places in the midst of grief and crying in the supermarket when you see a cereal that somebody used to eat. There’s just no way of guarding yourself one way or another. Everybody grieves differently, and there’s no right or wrong way. My function in the bigger picture was to be hilarious. It was great not having to do what this poor gal [Rachel Weisz] had to do or Mark had to do. I’ve been there in movies. I’ve lost many a child on celluloid so I was happy that I was once removed, that my job was much more fun. I guess the big challenge - and I relied on Pete for this - is to make sure it’s not too over the top and to throw things away. The lines were so funny, you didn’t really have to hit them too hard. You have to believe the audience isn’t stupid. You can just keep going and do it. So I was counting on them to really make just sure that I wasn’t doing a caricature and she seemed real. That would be the trap on this character."

Why did you want to do this and where do you go to play every parent’s worst nightmare?

Mark Wahlberg: "Well, my biggest reason for wanting to be a part of this was Peter Jackson. I’m a huge fan of Peter’s. Because of the way I approach work, I wasn’t all that thrilled about the subject matter because I have a beautiful little girl and two beautiful boys. I don’t have the God given talent that Rachel has to just snap into it and have these floods of emotion coming out and then turn it all off. So I basically had to live in that headspace for the entire time. I just thought it would be a beautiful movie and it was too good to pass up the opportunity to be a part of it."

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