Kristen Stewart tells why there is beauty in both the Queen and Snow White in her latest movie based on the fairytale
JOE Roth, former chairman of 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios and producer of Tim Burton’s fantastical global hit Alice In Wonderland, knew that his team had found something incredible when Evan Daugherty’s script for what would become Snow White And The Huntsman arrived at his Los Angeles-based production house, Roth Films.
Daugherty’s story gives a fresh and innovative take on the age-old Brothers Grimm tale, originally published in 1812 in the text Kinder- und Hausmarchen (Children’s And Household Tales).
“I loved the idea of turning this story on its head. What I realised after making Alice In Wonderland is that if you find the right story and you put a visionary filmmaker on it — someone who’s got a real eye — and you have a modern take and use all the modern tools, you have the best of all worlds,” says Roth. He found that man in British commercial director Rupert Sanders, who makes his directorial debut with Snow White And The Huntsman: “When we looked at his commercial reel, it was clear he had a fantastic eye. I was impressed at how bright he was, and I knew he would be a fast learner.”
Admittedly, it wasn’t initially an easy sell to the filmmaker. Recounts Sanders: “I’d been looking for a project, and I’d been close on a couple of things. Then I was sent the script, and I thought, ‘Snow White? Are you having a laugh?’ But after I read it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is an incredible opportunity to create a world that people haven’t seen before.’ What touched me about the story was that it drew on something that so many people have within them. We all read it as a child and saw the cartoon that was done in 1937 — the first Disney foray into fairy tales. I loved the idea of a reinvention.”
Together with producers Roth and Sam Mercer, Sanders aimed to create a film that was not only timeless, but would also capture the spirit, style and tone of the Brothers Grimm, perhaps in the way these folklorists might envision a version of their story 200 years after they first wrote it down.
The movie stars Kristen Stewart (the Twilight saga, On The Road) who plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil Queen Ravenna (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron of Prometheus, Hancock) who is out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman who has escaped her clutches and now threatens her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman named Eric (Chris Hemsworth of Thor, The Avengers) who was dispatched to capture her.
It also stars Sam Claflin (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as William, the young duke long enchanted by Snow White’s defiance and innate purity, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones and Brian Gleeson.
Stewart spent four months riding horses and four months with an English accent.
“It’s been interesting to play a young girl who is completely unaware of any vanity. She just has none. In almost every other role you play, you’re at least aware of yourself and might have to play a girl dealing with vanity as she grows into a woman. The fact that Snow White has absolutely none of that, and Ravenna has the ultimate opposite, says something very nice about what people find beautiful in life.”
The performer appreciated the writers’ take on Snow White, a character initially trapped in a forest that draws its strength from any weakness. Stewart reflects: “I do admire strong characters, but this wasn’t strong for the sake of strong.
It was so feminine and so human, and I love playing a character who is someone that you’re going to root for and throw your drink on the ground and stand up and go, ‘Yeah!’”
Here’s an excerpt of an interview with Stewart.
Were you anxious that Rupert Sanders was a first-time feature director taking on such a big production?
I wasn’t worried. He is so good at what he does. He’s done a lot of work in the past. Yes, this was his first feature, but he’s great. There was an element of trusting him but there’s always that with any director no matter how many films they’ve made. Rupert has such a strong visual style and he uses imagery in such a powerful way. That was perfect for this story. I loved being surprised by him and I loved collaborating with him.
Was he open to your ideas?
We had to be ready to roll with the punches because we changed things every single day...
So Sanders and the script convinced you to take on the project?
Definitely Rupert and the script was a huge part of it. Charlize was also a solid concrete pillar in the middle of all of this. She was cast before me so when I heard that she was playing the Queen, I wanted to do it. You can read something fantastic but it can fall apart at the seams if you don’t have the other elements supporting it. Knowing that Charlize was a part of it meant that I could trust it and it made it a sure gamble.
Has Sanders brought darkness to the film?
Yes, he makes these characters live in an incredibly dangerous world. The setting and the landscape is like a character on its own. His use of imagery is always very evocative. He has a really good ability to see things in a unique way.
What was it like working with Chris Hemsworth?
I love Chris, he’s a charming guy. He’s great and sort of on a similar wavelength as I am in terms of work because we didn’t have much rehearsal. We jumped right into it and as soon as we started, I was like, ‘oh, this is going to be easy’. He’s a good actor. Chris is honest and you can really talk to him. A lot of the material had so much potential sometimes he would change some and he would roll with the punches.
What was it like doing all the stunts and which was the hardest one for you?
I jumped off a rock that was really high. I heard that it was about 3.6m tall and but it seemed like 6m. I had to jump into frigid water and it was horrifying. I didn’t think I had a problem with heights but it was really scary. That was definitely the hardest stunt.
Where did you film that scene?
It was at Pinewood Studios in a big, outside tank.
Did you go straight from the last Twilight saga film to Snow White And The Huntsman?
I had a little time off in between. I do tend to choose projects that are fairly challenging and I do like to work a lot. Snow White And The Huntsman is very different from Twilight and I liked that. I also like going from one project to the next.
If you were to choose a Prince Charming, what would he be like?
I really don’t have a list. I would hate that.
The Twilight saga is such a phenomenon and you have so many fans because of it. But there are some who snipe at you. How do you feel about those two extremes?
It’s funny because I get nervous talking about my movies. I hate the idea that people think that it’s because I don’t care. And so if they hate me for that, then really, I would be able to prove them wrong. If they hate me for other reasons then, it doesn’t bother me because I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
Has the crazy fan thing died down a little?
The crazy fan thing doesn’t happen. It’s sort of been made up. That’s not to say that they don’t exist and that when we go to premieres people aren’t excited and screaming, but it really only happens at premieres and maybe somewhere like Comic-Con.
What would be your advice to a teenaged girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in the crowd?
It’s hard for me to sit here and think that I’m speaking directly to girls generally and telling them how to have an easier time at being a girl. I would probably just say, ‘don’t worry about it’. It’s hard not to fit in when you are younger and I completely understand that, but at the same time it makes you who you are. It’s best not to worry about it.
Who is your best friend and why?
I grew up with somebody who is one of my best girlfriends and that’s because she’s crazy and funny and she really gets me. Also, Dakota (Fanning) is one of my best friends. I respect her so much and I love her. She’s funny and crazy and lovely.
Is loyalty important too?
Yes. And both of my best friends are really loyal.
What did you take away from working with Charlize Theron?
I’ve grown up admiring Charlize. She’s talented. She’s in her own category and just awesome. It’s exciting to work with whom somebody who I respect and admire and who is acting for the same reasons that I am. I was also intimidated and I wanted to make sure that it was a good working relationship.
You were intimidated?
Yes, I was really nervous and intimidated. When I met Charlize, I was like ‘oh wow, you’re crazy!’ She’s really funny and quick. And she commands a lot of attention. You can’t help but look at her when she walks into a room. She’s very cool. Charlize exceeded my expectations.
How did you overcome those nerves?
You want to impress and you want to deliver. It felt natural acting with Charlize. A lot of the scenes were really intense and before we filmed them we talked a lot about the story and our characters. A lot of scenes are almost like fight scenes because there’s conflict with our characters.
What is your favourite fairytale?
I really didn’t grow up with fairytales. I’m more familiar with Disney movies. My favourite Disney movie was The Jungle Book.
In Snow White And The Huntsman, the Queen sees her beauty as part of her power. In what way do you think that beauty is powerful?
Some of the most beautiful people, who use their beauty as a weapon, are grotesquely ugly inside. With the Queen, she is brought up and told that beauty is the one card she can play to a fault. One of the really beautiful things about Snow White is that she can see through Queen Ravenna’s evil character that there is beauty there.
Do you prefer big productions or small independent films?
They offer such different opportunities. I love going somewhere for five weeks and living in a dingy little hotel room and half writing the script the night before you go on set, that’s fun. At the same time, it feels great to be supported by hundreds of talented people on a big budget film. So I love doing both.
Snow White develops from an innocent girl into a strong woman. Are you a strong woman now?
What’s interesting in the film is that it’s not really a coming-of-age story. It’s not about Snow White growing up. For her, it’s about realising that she has these weapons and being strong enough to utilise them. Her main weapon is the light she has in her, her intuitiveness.
Can you relate to that?
I can relate to becoming a little bit more comfortable and older. At the same time I haven’t gone, “oh I’m a woman! I’m an adult now”.
How do you choose your red carpet style?
What I wear depends on my mood. Sometimes I wear black and I like that. I like how it makes me feel. But then sometimes I go a little lighter.
There are two Snow White films (Mirror Mirror was released earlier) being released this year. Is there room for both?
I know (the star of Mirror Mirror) Lily (Collins) really well and so it’s kind of crazy. Both films will be really cool and very different. But yes, there’s room for both.
Snow White And The Huntsman opens in cinemas nationwide on May 31.
United International Pictures