The operative word for the teenage monster romance "Beautiful Creatures" would seem to be "secret."
Because it is based on a young-adult novel aimed at fans of "Twilight," big things are expected of "Beautiful Creatures," which opens Thursday, Feb. 14. When two of its costars visited the Twin Cities in January, they said making the movie involved keeping things quiet, starting with the auditions.
"I had sent in an audition tape, so I knew what the movie was, but they only gave us the scene we were supposed to audition with 15 minutes before the audition," said Tom Mann, who plays the wise-cracking best friend of a small-town boy who unwittingly falls in love with a witch. Other than the audition scene, though, he didn't get to see a script.
"My agent and I heard that it wasn't going my way. Then, it was. Then, it wasn't," recalled Mann. "Then, I got the offer."
Zoey Deutch, who plays the town mean girl, auditioned under similarly hush-hush conditions, and she was even less sure about booking the job.
"I didn't hear anything for a long time. Then I got a call in Mexico. I'm so frugal I didn't even want to answer my phone outside of the U.S.," Deutch said. "But I did pick up and my agent said, 'You got the job, that one you auditioned for five months ago.
Deutch, who greeted "Beautiful Creatures" fans with Mann at the Mall of America last month and who also met with the book's "fangirls" at a huge comics convention, said the secrecy is not only because it's hoped the movie will be a big hit, but because its producers know fans of the book may be nervous about some changes that have been made in the transition from page to screen.
"The fans we talked to said they were worried it would be different in the movie, which was interesting.
Although the human/witch romance is the main thread of "Beautiful Creatures," much of the fun comes from big stars in supporting roles, chewing scenery and casting spells: Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Jeremy Irons all play characters involved in a battle for the soul of the young witch. All of that could come off as goofy, but Deutch thinks director Richard Lagravenese succeeded in blending romance and sorcery.
"The witch part of the story, and all that goes with that, is a good metaphor for how crazy and heated kids feel in these situations," Deutch said. "When you fall in love the first time, it does almost seem supernatural. To me, who is 18, it all feels pretty real."
Movie critic Chris Hewitt can be reached at 651-228-5552. Follow him at twitter.com/ChrisHMovie.
Chris Hewitt's review of "Beautiful Creatures" will be on TwinCities.com/Hewitt on Thursday, Feb. 14, and in the Friday, Feb. 15, Weekend Life section.