Director Tarsem Singh Explains Why His Snow White Will Succeed and Why He Cast Julia Roberts
Posted 06.22.11 by Ryan
There can be only one. Snow White movie, that is.
2012 will see the release of not one but two live-action Snow White movies, Universal Studios' Snow White and the Huntsman and Relativity Media's Untitled Snow White Project (formerly titled The Brothers Grimm: Snow White). While Snow White and the Huntsman is a more serious, action–oriented movie, the Untitled Snow White will see The Cell's Tarsem Singh direct an adventure comedy with Lily Collins (Priest) cast as Snow White and Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen.
Roberts was the first actor cast in Singh's Snow White, and, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director explained why he chose to cast Roberts before, well, the title character.
We might have said, "Snow White first,” but no — the Queen comes first. I just went about this in, I guess, the wrong way because it’s called Snow White. [Laughs] I just said, "What I want is the Queen, because that dictates how old Snow White is." There’s a lot of banter between the prince and the queen and the person who is Snow White. So I knew the tough situation there was, if I went with Snow White, and went really young with her, and I got a queen who was much older, it would be really hard to play a comedy love–triangle with the prince because he could come off as pedophilic on one side and Oedipal on the other. So I knew the key was the Queen. Choose the Queen — that will dictate the Snow White.
Roberts may be the first actress people think of for an "evil" character, but Singh revealed that he chose Roberts for a specific reason.
She’s the obvious choice of being goody–two–shoes, and I didn’t want an Evil Queen in the sense that already existed. In earlier versions, always it was mothers — mothers of the child. And then the Brothers Grimm came along, and said we’ve got to make it more family friendly and turn the mother into a stepmother, which I find really bizarre because most stepmothers are pretty great. I said, "It can’t be an evil, quintessential queen. I’m looking for a likable evil queen." I couldn’t think of anybody who is more of a likable evil queen than her.
Singh explained that the current wave of Snow White movies came after the discovery that the Snow White name was "not owned by anybody" when previously it was thought to be out of the public domain. While Singh's Snow White is clearly much different than Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman — which sees the Huntsman (Thor's Chris Hemsworth) spare Snow White (Twilight's Kristen Stewart) and then tutor her in the ways of fighting and evading bounty hunters — Singh admitted that there could only be one Snow White movie. That's why he encouraged Relativity to move the release date to March, giving Singh less than 10 months to shoot and edit the movie, but put it months before Snow White and the Huntsman's release.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there really, truly is only room for the first one of these. Two Snow White movies do not exist in this market. So for me, if you’re not first with this one, you’re not in the game. I made that very clear from the beginning to Relativity.
Of course, the audience will also have a say in how many Snow White movies are acceptable. Universal has remained undeterred, recently casting actors Eddie Izzard, Toby Jones, and Bob Hoskins as dwarfs in the movie.
Meanwhile, The Untitled Snow White Project will open on March 16, 2012, but hopefully will pick a title before then. "It could be Snow White and the Something Something," quipped Singh. "Or it might be Something Something Snow White."