‘The Giver’ Stars Brenton Thwaites, Oyeda Rush Talk Their 8 ‘Emotionally Draining’ Auditions (Video)

Thwaites, who plays lead role Jonas, and his co-star Rush tell TheWrap about their intense audition process

“The Giver” filmmakers picked their leads very, very carefully.

During a sit-down with TheWrap, the film’s young stars Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush discussed how much more extensive their auditions for the Phillip Noyce adaptation of Lois Lowry‘s classic YA dystopian novel were compared to other films.

“Usually an audition is 10 or 15 minutes, this one was an hour,” said Rush, who plays Fiona in “The Giver” opposite Thwaites’ Jonas. “This one was an hour. We did it so many times and at the end I was really just emotionally drained. At the end [Noyce] just kind of brushed me off with one word, like ‘okay, great,’ and I thought ‘I’m never coming back here.’ But I ended up coming back five more times.”

See video: ‘The Giver’ Director, Author on Why Brenton Thwaites’ Jonas Was Aged Up; YA Dystopian Trend

The process was equally long for Thwaites, whose Jonas is the film’s lead character, who’s tasked with receiving all the emotions and memories deemed too chaotic and destructive for everyone else in his seemingly utopian society to absorb.

“Phillip would keep working with us in these auditions, Thwaites said. “It became more of an exploration that you don’t usually get in an audition room. It became two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight auditions. In that time, like Odeya said, it really became our working relationship.”

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“The Giver” has the daunting task of trying to stand out in a sea of YA adaptations, but its stars believe it’s a different thing from “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent.”

“It’s very deep, thought-provoking,” said Rush. “It doesn’t focus so much on action or violence.”

“The key weapon in this film is knowledge,” added Thwaites. “That’s one of the themes we’re trying to get across in the movie. In the book it’s so beautifully written, but in a movie it’s hard to arm your hero with knowledge and experiences as your M16. And that’s one of the things that attracted me to the project.”

“The Giver” is released on Friday, August 15.