Shadowhunter and Warlock: Kevin Zegers and Godfrey Gao
By: Lynn Barker
You might have seen cute Kevin Zegers as Damian Daalgard in TV’s “Gossip Girl” but everyone is zeroing in on his friendship with the late Cory Monteith with whom he co-starred in a new indie film All the Wrong Reasons. Kevin wants to stick to talking about his role as Shadowhunter Alec in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Godfrey Gao, is one tall, handsome Asian boy! If you are a fan of the book series, you might not think of a Magnus Bane who looks like him but he brings elegance and a cool vibe to the role. These two only confirm what we’ve been told about the cast of the film. They all bonded on the set and look forward to working together again.
Let’s ask these two hunky dudes about their characters and the whole experience of bringing a novel to life on film.
Kidzworld Did you guys read the book?
- Kevin: I read the first book right before we started because I wasn’t cast in the movie until two weeks before we started. I read the script on a plane to see (director) Harald. We’re doing the 2nd film in a month so I’ve read the second book now. I’m following the story as it goes along.
- Godfrey: Honestly I didn’t know much about it until I was told they were casting for the Magnus role and that’s when I got into the books. Now I’m a fan myself. I love these books. I enjoyed how Cassie (author Cassandra Clare) has put all these characters together and the fact that there is an underworld that (mundanes) can’t see. I always wanted to know what happens next, what characters’ history was.
Kidzworld: Kevin, what did you like about the character of Alec? Did the fact that he’s gay appeal or not?
- Kevin: Yeah. I’m always drawn to the outlying character, the enigmatic character you can’t always put your finger on. So, when I read the script, Alec would have been the character I wanted to play anyway. You don’t always know what’s going on with him. He’s not very pleasant. He’s an interesting character to play.
Kidzworld: And Godfrey How do you feel about your character Magnus? He’s pretty colorful!
- Godfrey: Magnus is one of my favorite characters and he’s a fan favorite. He wears nail polish, glitter and has all these custom-made suits and underwear. He’s got a fun personality; on one side he’s a warlock and party animal and on the other he is very caring about Clary. It develops into a nice relationship in the series. He has all these secrets. He’s a mysterious person. To actually bring him to life was a tough job. (Director) Harald said that he’s like a rock star who has been around a long time and experienced life to the fullest. It’s pretty sad for Magnus. He’s lived for so long and anyone he loves will just eventually die. He feels pretty lonely in his world. He’s bi-sexual which makes for a fun character.
Kidzworld: He’s not a tall Asian guy in the book.
- Godfrey: (laughs) I know but they were casting an Asian actor for the role. I’m just glad I was on the list. They saw a lot of people. I heard they had a tough time finding the right Magnus. I was filming in Shanghai so I put myself on tape so they could see how I looked and acted. They gave me feedback so I threw in some changes and back again. it was a two or three week process. I guess they really enjoyed my presence and look and performance. I talked to Harald on Skype and in a couple of days later I got the job. I was pretty shocked actually. I’d never taped myself before. It was a great opportunity. The whole thing doesn’t seem real to me.
Kidzworld: Can you both talk about bonding experiences with cast members?
- Kevin: I just got married (to talent agent Jaime Feld) and since Lily (Collins) and Jamie (Campbell Bower) and I had done this mall tour in a bunch cities, they had both planned on coming anyway and we all ended up in New York. The two of them are like my family. Lily and my wife are very close and Jamie and I hit it off from the time we met. We have a chemistry, the three of us that works and it informs us for shooting the next film.
- Godfrey: There was a lot of bonding “We were chosen” for this movie. Everyone was friendly and outgoing. The first day I was on set, I was under a lot of pressure playing Magnus and it was my first Hollywood film and English feature. I didn’t expect everyone to be so nice. My first day, Lily and Jaime came up to me, introduced themselves and greeted me. I wasn’t expecting that. Lily was like “I can’t wait to rehearse and talk more about our scenes together”. That was cool. At that point I could take a big breath. Not so stressed anymore. We had fun on set; a bunch of young kids; more like being back in high school for me, hanging out with your friends but working. Back in Asia, a lot of the actors and actresses I work with are much older and don’t speak English.
Kidzworld: Do you have a fave memory of working on the film?
- Godfrey: The most memorable part was the Magnus party scene. I saw all these cool costumes with people dressed up as vampires and in all these cool outfits. I thought that was pretty memorable. I like how they did it. It wasn’t in a studio. It was like at some Medieval Times thing. It looked like a castle and Magnus’ room was great. There was a swing in it and incense burning and cool lighting. It was amazing to see that huge set.
Kidzworld: Kevin, Is the prospect of doing several of these films good for you or limiting?
- Kevin: I think I’ve been disappointed enough not to bank on this happening but I like the character enough and we’re shooting in Toronto where I’m from so it couldn’t be a better situation for me. I feel lucky.
Kidzworld: Are you excited about where Alec is going in the second film?
- Kevin: Yeah. Now having read the second book (“City of Ashes”), there is lot for Alec to do in the second film but I think the foundation we established from the first film, Harald is in sync with (author) Cassie. They entrust the characters to the actors. I think now, that we’ve set up who he is we can fine tune things happening in the second script to things we’ve established. There are a lot of us in those characters.
Kidzworld: Did the cast hang out and party when you shot in Toronto?
- Kevin: This was a lot of work in a short period of time so when we weren’t at work we were sleeping or at the gym training. Now that we’ve been there I’ll take them to baseball games and stuff when we go back. Not much time for sight-seeing first time around.
- Godfrey: Yeah, but when we were shooting in Toronto at night it was maybe minus one degrees so all of us had somewhere to rest in between shots. We had this little room with a heater and we all gathered around like it was a campfire. That was the most bonding time and we all chit-chatted. It was like chilling with friends in high school. Very relaxing.
Kidzworld: Godfrey, the Asian film industry is exploding and you are big there. Do you see yourself doing more films in Asia or do you want to do more Hollywood films here or elsewhere?
- Godfrey: I always wanted to come back to North America. I lived in Vancouver for most of my life; high school and college. I’ve done some background work in Vancouver for Hollywood movies, just as an extra. I decided to go to Asia, to Taiwan where I was born and they gave me the opportunity to act. I was a basketball player but I thought acting was a longer career. I started out from scratch not knowing anything. I got some gigs in TV in Taiwan then movies. I still want to do movies in Asia but hopefully I can do Hollywood films as well. That’s my goal.
Kidzworld: What other things can we see you guys in?
- Kevin: The Colony with Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton comes out in September and the film I did with my friend Cory Monteith (All the Wrong Reasons) will be at the Toronto Film Festival so I’ll be there and I did a film called The Curse of Downers Grove will Bella Heathcote which is a twist movie like Cape Fear about this guy stalking a girl. I’m the stalker, a sociopath. I’m glad I had some time to recover. That movie spun my head out. Now back to Mortal Instruments. Life is good.
- Godfrey: My previous work has been in romantic comedies but I’m a big action buff and I’d like to look forward to being a bad guy in some action films or be a super hero. I’m a sucker for Superman. People say I look like Clark Kent when I put my glasses on. Maybe an Asian Clark Kent? I took Karate when I was little and got my black belt. I have a good base background of Tae Kwan Do and Karate but it’s been a while. But, I’ve got some moves.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is in theaters August 21st, 2013!