Fansite Exclusive: Jemima West Talks Playing Isabelle Lightwood in the The Mortal Instruments

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Clary Fray is great, but the Ultimate Shadowhunter can be argued as Isabelle Lightwood. We had the pleasure of sitting down today to talk with Jemima West who happens to be one of the kindest and most humble people we have met. She talked about everything. Nothing was off limits. You can read the first part of her interview here on Fangirlish.com, and the second part on TMISource.com, and the third on MundieMoms.com.

Q: You got to do some serious butt-kicking in this movie. How much fun did you have with all that action and using that whip?

J: It was really intense work. It was all good fun all along because we were such a good team working all together. Even in the hard moments we were supporting each other at all times of the day. It was very intense. I didn’t prepare as the others in advance, but it was very intense for everyone. As soon as I got to Toronto, I was training several hours a day and we were all in it together. At the end of the day, it was fun and it was challenging and when you get to see the results it really pays off, I think. When people like Jamie [Campbell Bower] do their own flips and stuff it’s so much more exciting and cool than having someone else do it.

Q: What was your favorite scene to film?

J: Tricky question here. They were all so much fun. My favorite – and the hardest – would be the [Hotel] Dumort scenes. And I liked the Institute scenes. They were some of the first scenes we shot and we were getting to know each other. It was really good fun.

Q: What was it about Isabelle that most appealed to you?

J: Her will to fight and protect her own – her family and her friends. She’s faithful and determined.

Q: How was it like working with Robbie [Sheehan] and sort of hinting at the future relationship that’s to come between Isabelle and Simon?

J: [Laughs] It was great fun. Robbie’s a great guy. He’s so much fun to work with. He’s such a great human being, and he’s such a good actor. It was just great. We had so much fun, but I’m really looking forward to working with him more, definitely. Great guy.

Q: Is there a certain scene in City of Ashes that you’re most looking forward to?

J: Everything in City of Ashes is amazing. It’s so hard to know because there’s so much. But I’m just looking forward to doing it again, really. I have to be honest. All of it. All the fighting, all the more intimate scenes, there’s so much. So much is going to happen and I’m looking forward to it all.

Q: You portray a fan-favorite character. What’s been your favorite fan moment that you had?

J: It’s so funny that you ask me this question because you see I live in Paris and I’m blonde so I don’t look the same as in the film. I don’t have Facebook, I don’t do any social networking. I know that lots of stuff is going on, but because I’m working at the moment it’s very difficult for me to relate to the craziness that the others are going through at the moment. I do remember, just when we started the film, I knew and I was aware that these books were really successful. But it was sort of a shock that I had when I was coming out of my trailer and a young girl came up to me and touched me and said, ‘You’re Isabelle. You’re Isabelle.’ It was so overwhelming. I almost sort of ran off because I was so intimidated [laughs]. I’m really excited and I hope to meet the fans soon because it’s so frustrating for me to not be able to see the people that are so committed to these books and excited about the film.

Q: What is one of the things that you really came to admire about Izzy’s character?

J: I was just saying, actually, I love Izzy because she’ so committed and so strong and willing and faithful. She’d do anything for the ones she loves. That’s something I related to immediately. I find her very funny and that’s what I tried to show. I think she’s quite insecure deep down, but she has to put on this good front and this little soldier front and that was really interesting to work on.

Q: You had the whip, you had the flamethrower and you rocked in those boots. What was more fun to play with: the whip or the flamethrower?

J: The whip was great. They were both so dangerous, but when I was doing the whip it was CGI so it was a secret. I trained with a real whip, of course, to see what it was really like. And then in the scenes I was faking the whip. It was great because having all these moments and having all these stunt guys pretend to get caught and dragged by my whip was actually pretty cool [laughs]. And then the flamethrower was really good fun. It’s sort of scary at first. Before I started using it I was like, ‘Wow, the second this thing goes on, I’m literally throwing flames several meters across the room full of people.’ Obviously they had security measures and stuff, but it was a bit scary. To be honest with you, it got thrilling after a couple of shots it got really thrilling [laughs]. It was heavy, it was heavy, though. The real one was about 40 kilos, I think, so it was somewhat heavy to carry.

Q: Izzy also rocks those awesome outfits and accessories. Did you have a favorite outfit or accessory that Izzy wore in the movie?

J: To be honest with you, no, because I loved wearing all the leather, the boots were painful, but they were really part of Isabelle’s look and that’s all thanks to Gersha Phillips’ costume, which was amazing. I also did love the white dress, as well. I loved every costume. They were all different sides of Isabelle, where it be fight mode or glamour mode.

Q: We’re really looking forward to seeing what you do with Izzy in City of Ashes because that’s one of the books that she really shines in. We’re looking forward to seeing you kick some butt on the big screen in that movie.

J: Well, I’m really looking forward to starting work again with all of the others, I have to say. It’s really exciting that we can get a second chance at this. It’s so cool.

Q: We’re hoping for many more chances!

J: [Laughs] Yeah me, too! Tell me about it. That’s so, so great.

Q: Do you feel a lot of pressure because it has such a big fan base or was that something you didn’t worry about?

J: Obviously you want to please the fans and the fans are so involved in the books and love the books so much and you sort of want to do the best job possible. But as an actor I sign on for a project because I want to defend the character and defend the movie and I want to do the best I can. I put a lot pressure on myself before I think about what’s going on outside, and when the film is released, indeed, I think, ‘Oh, yeah other people are going to see this now. Uh oh.’ [laughs] But I try not to think of the pressure while I’m filming because I got my own pressure, but once we’re done filming, yeah definitely, especially on this film. I’m really curious to see people’s reactions and what people have thought of it.

Q: When you recorded your short video talking to fans, most of us got an overwhelming reaction. Like we were getting emails and comments like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so amazing. She’s so beautiful. She really cares about us.’ So people really embraced that are really love you.

J: Aww.

Q: One thing you have been missed on are the mall tours. And it’s been a constant thing for a lot of us where fans are like, ‘Where’s Jemima? Where’s Jemima?’ So you’ve been filming something we’ve been told.

J: Actually, I started filming in early August and I’m doing a film that’s really exciting for me and is here in France. It has nothing to do with the world of the Shadowhunters [laughs]. It’s a period film about Gerard Depardieu … it’s an organization. It takes place in the 20s to the 90s. I’m in the first segment from the 20s to the 50s. I play Gerards’s daughter. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him he’s a pretty big French actor and I’ve always dreamt of working with him. I’m really sad that I can’t be at these premieres, but I’m working. It’s an excuse for all of this.

Q: I just wanted to know what you’re working on next because we’re all very excited. Even if it’s something I have to watch with subtitles, I’m very excited to see it.

J: Actually, it’s French, but we’re shooting in English so you won’t need the subtitles.

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