Snow White and the Huntsman Director Rupert Sanders Discusses Kristen Stewart, Sequels, and the Nature of Evil
03.23.12 by Ryan
Bringing fairy tales to life is the new obsession in Hollywood, evidenced by the release of two live-action Snow White movies in 2012. The first, Relativity Media's Mirror, Mirror, will open at the end of this month, with Tarsem Singh (Immortals) directing a silly, candy-colored slapstick version while Rupert Sanders is directing the grittier and more action-oriented Snow White and the Huntsman, set to open in June. After Mirror, Mirror won the scheduling battle between the two movies last year, Singh publicly claimed that "two Snow White movies do not exist in this [movie] market," inferring that Snow White and the Huntsman's later release date meant that only Mirror, Mirror would succeed at the box office. In a recent interview with Collider, Sanders had the opposite reaction, seeing the competition as a possible benefit.
We’re probably both getting a lot more publicity because both films are out there, but they’re very different. I think there’s room for both of them. I hope we both succeed, and I hope that people want to see two versions. People love to go, "Oh, Hollywood is making two movies about the same thing. They’re so dumb." So, everyone talks about it and I think it helps the awareness of the projects.
Snow White and the Huntsman will also benefit from having Twilight actress Kristen Stewart in the lead role, though, Sanders admits, playing Snow White isn't the same as playing Bella Swan.
I think what I realized is that she’s such a good actor that everyone thinks she’s Bella Swan. They believe that that’s her. Obviously, an actor is playing a role. She is nothing like Bella. And, I got on really well with Kristen. It was great. As I was writing stuff, she was there. We had a lot of conversations, seeing through her eyes. We really hard on developing that character together. I was just amazed at her talent, really. She’s incredibly good at her craft. She’s incredibly instinctive. She’s incredibly intuitive. She will overcome fear, like no one I’ve met, when it comes to it. She didn’t really want to ride a horse. She had a bad horse-riding accident, as a kid. When you’re riding fast on a horse, with 200 others soldiers on horses riding behind you, through surf on a beach, that’s terrifying. She really went there. She crafted the accent, and it’s flawless. She’s a stunning actor.
Sanders calls Snow White and the Huntsman a "very realistic" movie, despite being based on a fairy tale. "It’s really a big swash-buckling, knights in shining armor movie with lots of castles on hilltops and horse battles and shattering black armies," said Sanders. While the movie is still a "medieval fairy tale," Sanders told ScreenRant that Charlize Theron's evil Queen Ravenna isn't the typical villain. "She plays it very real," said Sanders of Theron's performance.
When you’re playing an Evil Queen you can go into pantomime very quickly. I think what she did so well and what really we all felt was the best kind of root for the character was that she wasn’t playing pure evil. I don’t think anyone’s born pure evil. Things happen to them growing up that make them who they are and I think that’s very true with her backstory that you see later in the film. She’s a very disturbed character who’s desperately got to find this heart because she needs to live forever. It’s as simple as that. She’s dead on the inside but she’s determined that she will avenge her family and the tribe that she was with that was constantly brutalized by kings and other kingdoms. She’s determined that the world will feel the suffering that she felt and she will stop at nothing to do that. She’s driven by some dark machinations but she’s also incredibly wounded and fragile underneath that. You can relate to her, because we understand the things she’s gone through and why she’s become evil. She’s not just sitting around with a white cat on her lap and hacking people’s heads off. Her evil comes because of how distorted the character has become. So she plays it very real and I think that’s really the success of the character. She’s incredible to watch.
While it would seem that Snow White and the Huntsman would be a self-contained story, producer Joe Roth admitted last July that the movie is planned as the "first in a series of films," something that Sanders doesn't exactly deny, even if he says the movie doesn't end in a cliffhanger.
Look I think it would be really rude to kind of leave it with a "to be continued." It’s its own story. If there’s a desire for people to want to continue with those characters, there will be. They’re such great characters, they’re so well played and the world can only keep expanding. I think when you make a sequel and then a trilogy, the first film is really the first toe in the water and it’s kind of discovering the world. Then you can really start to get deeper into that sort of world. We’ve got so much stuff that we didn’t even use in the film, there’s so many ideas. So we’ll see.
Should Snow White and the Huntsman become a success after it opens, Sanders says a potential sequel wouldn't start including other fairy tale characters.
I think this is its own world. I think a couple of people would end up dead so we’d have to fill those shoes. There’s so much great source material in all of those fairy tales. It’s not like Snow White’s suddenly going to be running through the woods on a horse and meet Sleeping Beauty, wake her up and find Rapunzel. I don’t think it’s going to be that. But it definitely will be inspired by some of the events from other fairy tales.