She was the Pretty Woman. Now she’s one bad mutha … Well, step-mutha.
Julia Roberts’ Evil Queen in the still-untitled Snow White movie from Relativity Media (out March 16) certainly looks imperious, but she does not wear her wickedness on her sleeve (there’s already plenty going on there as it is.)
“She’s the cat that ate the canary,” says director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, the upcoming Immortals). “From serial killers to anyone who does evil deeds, they basically have a devil-made-me-do-it excuse, or they hear voices,” he continues. “I decided for the evil queen, this is going to be a person who sees her [good] self – but there’s a mirror personality.”
If she can see herself at all.
In the larger version of this picture, we discover that the kind of gown this queen sports as casual wear still tends to dwarf her.
This massive outfit, from Oscar-winning costume designer Eiko Ishioka (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), displays the queen’s self-absorbed opulence. Here, the queen is merely relaxing on her golden throne, while in other shots (see the full gallery here), the Queen is sporting a red peacock gown while attending a costume ball.
It’s at this ball where Snow White (Abduction’s Lily Collins) infiltrates the court in hopes of persuading a prince (The Social Network’s Armie Hammer) to help her overthrow the murderous usurper. However the queen has already set her cougar eyes on him.
The script, originally by Melisa Wallack, was rewritten by Jason Keller who recently did Machine Gun Preacher, (so expect a little more edge than the Disney take on this material.)
Like many evil-doers, this queen maintains a phony cheerful demeanor in public, and prefers not to get her own hands dirty with such menial issues as murdering her step-daughter, which is the only way to maintain her place on the throne. “She outsources her evil, just like most people,” says Tarsem. “I wanted a person who is just schizophrenic. She’s a person who would just do all the evil she needs to do to stay in power.”
Luckily for Snow White, that means she can remain undetected for a while and attempt to unseat the woman who is destroying her late father’s kingdom.
She has some helpers, of course. Seven of them.
The dwarfs are bandits who live in the woods outside the kingdom and wear stilts when they attack passing caravans, which has the citizens fearing giants – not little guys. (You can click the image for a larger version, too.)
When Snow is exiled into the wilderness after the queen’s majordomo, played by Nathan Lane, can’t bring himself to kill her, the dwarfs take pity on a fellow outcast and begin offering their skills to help.
“They all train her in different things,” says Tarsem, who notes that Collins may look delicate but can really take a hit. “Surprisingly, the first day she came in and she’s very physical.”
Relativity isn’t releasing the character names just yet, but from left to right the actors in the photo are: Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo , Sabastian Saraceno, Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Provinelli, Ronald Lee Clark and Danny Woodburn.)
Her scenes with the queen are just as combative, though not always with a sword. “She gets in character and stays there,” says Collins. “She’s ‘Julia’ and graceful and an amazing woman, but on-screen, when she turns … the way she’s playing the queen, people feel really bad for Snow White.”
Relativity’s film is one of two Snow White movies currently in production, with Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman starring Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman. That movie is due June 1.
Both movies have claimed distance from the other, with Universal’s film more of a dark action-adventure and Relativity’s a more fanciful, family-friendly fairy tale.
“They’re so far behind us, there’s no point in watching it,” Tarsem says, meaning the rival production – not the finished film itself. “It’s a different type of film.”
For more on who is the fairest of them all: @Breznican