THE HUNTS­MAN WIN­TER’S WAR

“He’s much more grounded and hu­man than Thor”

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - The Hunts­man: Win­ter’s War opens on 8 April.

Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen’s clas­sic fairy­tale “The Snow Queen” clearly still has the power to en­chant. It trans­fixed to­day’s kids in the form of re­cent Dis­ney block­buster Frozen, af­ter all. So it’s lit­tle sur­prise that An­der­sen’s frosty femme fa­tale has been sum­moned into the world of sword and sor­cery for the fol­low- up to 2012’ s Snow White And The Hunts­man. The “Ice Queen” Freya ( played by Emily Blunt) now joins her sis­ter, Snow White’s “Evil Queen” Ravenna ( Charlize Theron), bat­tling Hunts­man Eric ( Chris Hemsworth) in a film that’s be­ing sold as both pre­quel and se­quel. As first- time fea­ture film helmer Cedric Ni­co­las- Troyan – an Os­car- nom­i­nated vis­ual ef­fects di­rec­tor on Snow White – tells SFX, it was an op­por­tu­nity to raid the sto­ry­book realm for in­spi­ra­tion. “The story ex­panded to, ‘ What other char­ac­ters in the fairy­tale world do you have?’” says the French- born di­rec­tor, who re­places Snow White’s Rupert San­ders. “The thing with fairy­tales is they’re al­ways sim­ple sto­ries. About chil­dren – chil­dren are eaten or stolen or they don’t have par­ents – or love. Whether you lose the love of your par­ents, you lose the love of your fi­ancé, or you’re look­ing for love, whether you go up in a gi­ant beanstalk to save the love of your life… All th­ese sim­ple sto­ries res­onate with ev­ery­one, and they’ve been do­ing so since they were first told. In the be­gin­ning they were told, then they were writ­ten, then they were read, and then they were drawn and be­came car­toons, and now they’re movies just be­cause to­day they can be done. Be­fore they couldn’t be done, and so no one was mak­ing them. Be­cause how do you make a witch be­come a dragon? Now a movie can show that. When you look back and ask, ‘ What are the big char­ac­ters?’ the Snow Queen is one of them.

It’s about dif­fer­ent types of women, at dif­fer­ent mo­ments in their lives

This char­ac­ter that’s lost a sense of love, and has a cold heart. That is a very sim­ple char­ac­ter yet one that res­onates with ev­ery­one.”

Freya’s heart is so cold, in fact, that when she creates the corps of Hunts­men to do her bid­ding, she for­bids them to fall in love – a rule Eric breaks when his heart is en­snared by the war­rior Sara ( Jes­sica Chas­tain).

“Sara is Eric’s wife. He talks about her in the first movie. She died. We ex­plore that and ex­plore how she died, and what re­ally hap­pened. Freya is part of the story of where the Hunts­man comes from and why he’s called the Hunts­man. Of course there are many Hunts­men. We ex­plore what they are and where they come from.”

Though main­stream ac­tion films are of­ten ac­cused of lack­ing strong roles for women, Win­ter’s War, Ni­co­las- Troyan points out, is first and fore­most “about women”.

“It’s about dif­fer­ent types of women, at dif­fer­ent mo­ments in their lives. There’s love, there’s love lost, there’s moth­er­hood, there’s wife­hood. There are dif­fer­ent aspects of the lives of women, in a world that is prin­ci­pally ruled by women. The story is the story of the Hunts­man, ob­vi­ously. It’s his story. But it’s his story within this world, sur­rounded by all th­ese dif­fer­ent fe­male char­ac­ters. Ravenna is very dif­fer­ent than Freya, and Freya is dif­fer­ent than Sara. Then we have the fe­male dwarves, who are funny as hell, to ex­plore a com­pletely dif­fer­ent part of the fe­male char­ac­ter, which is in­de­pen­dence and spunk­i­ness.”

Join­ing the re­turn­ing Nick Frost to play the dwarves are new­com­ers Sheri­dan Smith and Alexandra Roach, as well as Rob Bry­don.

“Nick has a lit­tle bit more of an ex­plo­ration of his char­ac­ter, Nion. Be­cause in the first movie we re­ally didn’t know who this char­ac­ter was, what this char­ac­ter was about. In this movie, you’ve got the whole story go­ing on and then the Rob Bry­don char­ac­ter, Gryff, and two fe­male dwarves that are kind of a team. They’re a lit­tle team that goes around and tries to make a liv­ing out of deal­ing and smug­gling things. They’re re­ally funny… The thing with the dwarves is that they are char­ac­ters who are just an open faucet of thoughts. They don’t process ev­ery­thing. They’re just re­ally raw char­ac­ters. They speak their minds. That creates the sit­u­a­tions be­tween them.

“Also, we dis­cover that fe­male and male dwarves don’t get along very well. They don’t typ­i­cally live to­gether as cou­ples. They’re a lit­tle bit like pan­das! So that creates a lot of funny mo­ments be­tween them… I think peo­ple are go­ing to be sur­prised by how funny the movie is. We did a pre­view a cou­ple of days ago, and peo­ple were like, ‘ Holy crap! I had no idea it was gonna be this fun!’”

Ni­co­las- Troyan de­scribes Win­ter’s War as lighter in over­all tone than Snow White And The Hunts­man, though more bal­anced in its mix of drama and hu­mour.

“It’s a lot lighter. There are two parts to the story. There is a darker story that hap­pens with cer­tain char­ac­ters, then there is a lighter part of the story that hap­pens with other char­ac­ters.

But it’s very well bal­anced. It’s not like you’re jump­ing from one movie to an­other. It’s not that at all. But there’s vari­a­tion… Like in your day. You’re gonna have mo­ments when it’s gonna be a lit­tle more dra­matic and mo­ments when you’re gonna re­lax a lit­tle bit more and joke around. You’re not go­ing to go through your whole day laugh­ing your ass off and you’re not go­ing to go through your whole day want­ing to jump from a cliff. It’s the same way with th­ese char­ac­ters. One of the great things about the Hunts­man char­ac­ter is that he comes in and out of dra­matic sit­u­a­tions and finds a way to be lighter in some mo­ments, through­out the whole movie. So it doesn’t get down and dark all the time.”

The film­maker also de­scribes Win­ter’s War as richer in its fan­tasy el­e­ments, a re­sult of its two en­chantresses. “We saw bat­tles in the first movie. In this one we are try­ing to do some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. There’s a lit­tle bit more magic. Magic spells are hap­pen­ing more of­ten than in the first one. We’d look at dif­fer­ent types of fight scenes to change things up a lit­tle bit. We al­ready did the big charge in the first movie, so we’re not go­ing to do that an­other time. We do dif­fer­ent stuff but it’s as big as the first movie. I just didn’t want to do the ex­act same thing. Some things are be­ing re­called, like the enchanted for­est for ex­am­ple. But then we’re do­ing some­thing new in it.”

As for any­one who may al­ready be draw­ing com­par­isons be­tween the Ice Queen of

Win­ter’s War and the Snow Queen of Frozen… “The Ice Queen is a fairy­tale char­ac­ter who has been por­trayed many, many times. But be­cause the last por­trayal was in Frozen, peo­ple are like, ‘ Ooh, it’s Elsa!’ But it’s like, ‘ Yeah, well, guess where Elsa in Frozen comes from? There have been plays, books, sto­ries of the Ice Queen or the Snow Queen or the Snow Princess. And there will be many more. It’s funny, be­cause Elsa’s just the one that just hap­pens to be right there on your doorstep.’ What can you say? I’m like, ‘ Yeah, it’s Elsa. Or Nar­nia. Or 20 other ver­sions of it that you can find around the world.’”

Di­rec­tor Cedric Ni­co­las- Troyan on a chilly- look­ing set.

“And then you cut the granny out of the wolf’s stom­ach.”

Sara ( Jes­sica Chas­tain) stares down Ravenna ( Charlize Theron).

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