In the new film The 5th Wave, four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal 5th wave, Cassie teams up with a young man who may become her final hope – if she can only trust him.
“Cassie Sullivan is a great heroine – but she’d never describe herself that way. She’d say she’s just a girl who has lost her brother, and will do whatever it takes to get back to him,” says Chloë Grace Moretz, who takes on the lead role of Cassie Sullivan in Columbia Pictures’ adaptation of Rick Yancey’s bestselling novel The 5th Wave, the first book in his planned trilogy.
Yancey’s book was published in 2013 to critical and popular acclaim, with over 20 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list. The second book in the trilogy, The Infinite Sea, met with similar acclaim and success, with the third book, The Last Star, set for release later this year.
“It’s hard to put this book down once you start reading,” says Tobey Maguire, who produces the film with Graham King, Matthew Plouffe, and Lynn Harris.
Up-and-coming director J Blakeson, takes the helm of The 5th Wave. For Blakeson, directing The 5th Wave was something of a return to his roots. “When I was younger, I watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books involving teenage characters. They were transitional books that opened up literature to me,” he recalls. “I wanted to make this movie because it allows us to create this big concept with scope– like an alien invasion – and use it to tell a story about the emotions and problems of everyday life in a more interesting way,”he says. “It was very important to me that this film was not about how terrible the world is, but how beautiful the world is and how you want to hold on to that beauty. My pitch was for Cassie to have hope and endurance; we keep the tone emotional, colorful, and cinematic, rather than have it be grungy and depressing.”
To bring to life the role of Cassie Sullivan, the filmmakers turned to Chloë Grace Moretz. For the filmmakers, Moretz combined the right combination of talents and traits: she is a seasoned performer, but, like her character, is herself just coming of age. “As an artist and writer I do believe in serendipity,” comments Yancey. “I have the writer’s tendency to become overly emotionally involved with my characters. So it was very important to me when I heard that they will be making a film that they got the right actors, and everyone’s going to agree that they got the right actors. I can’t imagine anyone else but Chloë now in the role. From the very first scenes that were shot I knew that we had found our Cassie.”
In fact, despite her age, Moretz has done so many action films that she has a very good sense of the sequences she can handle herself. “I’ve done action since I was 11 years old,” says Moretz. “Action is my second hand… it’s super fun and easy for me”.
The most important thing in Cassie’s life is her brother, Sam – and she’ll do anything to protect him. To cast this key role, the filmmakers conducted an extensive search before Zackary Arthur landed the role. “J was very specific about wanting a young actor who was not jaded, and neither too young or too old,” says producer Lynn Harris.
For the roles of Ben Parish and Evan Walker, the filmmakers cast rising star Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) as Ben and newcomer Alex Roe as Evan. To find them, the filmmakers cast a wide net. Actors sent in tapes from all over the world, with auditions around the U.S. including in Los Angeles and New York, plus in London and Australia.
Maika Monroe, who last year appeared in the highly regarded horror film It Follows, takes the role of Ringer, an ace sniper. Describing her character as a “badass,” Monroe – something of a badass herself, as a professional kite surfer – was willing to go to great lengths to get the role, including strike an unforgettable appearance at her audition. “I food-colored my hair, purple,” she says
The effects of the different waves required the production design team to dress the Sullivans’ street in multiple ways – pre-tsunami, post-tsunami, and post-flu – all in a residential area where people live. In one sequence, an hour after the tsunami, water is flowing down the street; in another, after the virus, everything has dried out and the houses are boarded up. What made this challenging, says production designer Jon Billington, is that the post-tsunami and post-flu shots were all achieved on the same day of shooting. Through movie magic and careful camera angles, they were able to pull it off.