At New York Comic-Con, the cast of Vampire Academy revealed that author Richelle Mead had given her blessing to the adaptation of her bestselling YA vampire series. Probably because writer/director team Daniel Waters (Heathers) and Mark Waters (Mean Girls) boasted such impressive pedigrees when it comes to high school classics.
Though they streamlined some of the first book, the fast pace pays off in the movie adaptation: You immediately get the bond between royal Moroi vampire Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) and her Dhampir bodyguard Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutsch), and you’re tickled by the juxtaposition of adolescent politics—led by mean girl Mia Rinaldi (Sami Gayle)—alongside ancient dangers.
We chatted with Fry and Gayle about shooting the entire movie at night, Veronica vs. Regina George, and what to expect for Lissa and Mia in the sequel.
High school sucks
Unlike other bloodsucker films, Vampire Academy doesn’t need to waste time with leading up to humans discovering the vampires’ existence. That means we get to jump right to the high school drama: hormones, popularity contests, and centuries-old cliques of Moroi vs. Dhampir.
“You get into the film, and the whole formula is there,” Fry said. “The rivalries and tensions are thousands of years old. It’s inherited; it’s this ancient fear and these ancient rules. One of the issues is that the dynamics of the school are strangely in juxtaposition to the modernness of the characters.
“That was all very intentional,” she added, “to make it these modern girls who live in an environment that was set up when vampires first came into existence. That’s something that, later on, is developed more in the books—about changing the dynamic that the Moroi have in place because it doesn’t really fit with the way their society is [now].”
Speaking of modernity, Fry got to play Lissa as first Veronica (the heroine of Daniel Waters’Heathers) and then shift into Regina George (from Mean Girls) mode. “It was really fun, actually, to get a chance to be both,” Fry said.
One element that sets Vampire Academy apart from typical high school movies is the fact that the biggest scenes were shot at night: The students at St. Vladimir’s attend classes in the middle of the night and sleep during the day, so the actors did, too.
“It was the ultimate opportunity to method-act,” Gayle said. “We were actually nocturnal: We would shoot 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.; then we’d get home around 4:30, sleep til 3, and get up again. ‘Breakfast’ would be at about 6 p.m.; lunch was at 1 a.m., dinner at 3 a.m.”
Sequels on the brain
Daniel Waters is already writing the screenplay for the sequel, presumably based on the secondVampire Academy novel, Frostbite. Mia manages to redeem herself a bit in the second book, but Gayle didn’t necessarily take that into account when playing Mia. She most took to heart her Blue Bloods co-star Tom Selleck’s advice: “The three fears of an actor are anticipation, familiarity, and memorization.” She explained, “You never want to anticipate what happens in the next film. So, I [couldn’t] be thinking of anything past what’s happening now, in the moment.”
When asked about Lissa’s role in Frostbite, Fry said, “I know that in the second [book], Lissa isn’t there for the climax—so, I’m hoping that it might be adapted so that I can be there!”
What do vampires read?
And of course, we had to ask what books they’re obsessed with. Fry is currently reading Paulo Coelho‘s Brida, whose protagonist actually mirrors Lissa a bit: “It’s about the spiritual journey of a woman who realizes that she has a gift. She starts to do these rituals and finds her powers.”
Gayle, meanwhile, is breezing through her AP Lit reading list: Frankenstein, Hamlet, The Color Purple, Heart of Darkness, and Death of a Salesman. Frankenstein is especially “near and dear to my heart,” she said, “because I got it in the Notting Hill bookshop from the film. So, I just loved it from the get-go!”
Vampire Academy comes to theaters February 7.