Acting alongside Hollywood legends like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep? Not an issue for either Brenton Thwaites or Odeya Rush.
The two young stars of The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel with more than 10 million copies sold, said working with the Oscar winners upped their game.
“Once I found out Meryl was cast, along came the excitement and nerves and anxiety,” Thwaites said Thursday from the Soho Beach House. The Aussie — last seen as Prince Charming in Maleficent — plays Jonas, a young man who lives in a futuristic world with no color or emotion or pain of any kind. Jonas is chosen by the community’s chief elder (Streep) to receive memories of the way human beings used to live — and consequently, suffer — from the so-called giver (Bridges).
“Once we got down to acting, all that went away. You don’t have time to think.”
The movie looks as if it was filmed on a distant planet, with unusual terrain, but the cast and crew actually were in South Africa.
“We were outdoors a lot,” explained Thwaites, 25. “It was gnarly, and by that I mean rugged. We were often struggling to drive to the middle of the desert somewhere. I can’t complain; it was good fun as an actor to go to the extremes.”
Thwaites’ main scenes with Bridges in the library, a k a The Giver’s Quarters, were at an old textile factory in Capetown.
“When it rained you heard the pift pift pift on the roof,” remembered Thwaites. “Very cool.”
As for Rush, many of her costars were very small people, as she is chosen as a caregiver in this bland world. Not a stretch, as the 17-year-old Israel native ( The Odd Life of Timothy Green) has four younger brothers.
“Whenever I look at a baby or children in general I smile and just want to play with them,” said the actress. She’s currently filming Goosebumps, based on the horror fantasy novel of the same name.
Both Thwaites and Rush, who play boyfriend and girlfriend, have high hopes for The Giver, thanks to the success of such teen-friendly movies as Divergent, Mortal Instruments, The Hunger Games and their subsequent sequels.
“Twenty years ago, the young adult [genre] meant rock and roll, motorbikes and fast cars,” said Thwaites. “Now it’s sci-fi. This is coming at the right time.”
If there is a sequel (as there is rumored to be), you can bet these two will want to be attached.
“It’s such a moving and powerful story,” Rush said. “It’s everything I could ever hope for in a project.”