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The Huntsman: Winter’s War Cast Talks Girl Power

Apr 18, 2016

By: Lynn Barker

The Huntsman: Winter’s War, is a prequel and also a sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Snow White is nowhere in sight but, taking her place is warrior/huntress Sara played by Jessica Chastain.

The story goes: When kind-hearted royal Freya (Emily Blunt) is betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron), Freya exiles herself to a kingdom to the north and raises a protective army of huntsmen. Freya develops a power to freeze her enemies in ice, just like her now icy heart. When young huntspeople Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) fall in love, they are outcasts until a war between Ravenna and Freya’s forces force them to side with Freya to end wicked Ravenna’s reign.

Ravenna spreads her evil to FreyaRavenna spreads her evil to FreyaCourtesy of Universal Studios

Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain recently met with reporters. Lots of laughs with this cast. Check it out.

Q: Charlize, what attracted you to come back after playing Ravenna in the first film?

  • Charlize: Chris Hemsworth (Emily goes Wooooo). I had a blast on the first one. I had a really good time working with Chris and I think I was in shock when I got the call because I die in the first one, spoiler alert. So it was a little bit like “Wow, is that gonna work out?” and I was really flattered that they wanted to bring me back. Then, when I saw the script and you’re always wondering what else is there to explore, I realized I was in a very fortunate position because of the character Freya. Two things I never thought Ravenna would ever do was love something and care for something so that was a new thing for me to explore through this character and to get to do it with a powerhouse like Ms. Blunt over there, I was like “Where do I sign on? I can’t wait”.

Ravenna Vs SaraRavenna Vs SaraCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Emily were you excited to be a part of the group on this film?

  • Emily: I was. I was really excited and…
  • Charlize: Except for Chris (she’s kidding).
  • Emily: Except for Chris, yeah.  It was a big appeal for me to work with all the actors. I definitely was wanting to do a Queen-off with Charlize Theron which was so awesome and fun. And, I don’t think I’d ever played a villain in that heightened reality and I knew that would kind of be a delicious thing to play so that was a big part of it too.

Freya launches her powersFreya launches her powersCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Chris, how was it for you coming back?

  • Charlize: How was it, Chris?
  • Emily: Yeah, how was it?
  • Chris: (smiling) Besides these two, it was great. I had a great time on the first one but it was a darker in tone film and when we were shooting that we were talking about the potential of doing a sequel or a spin off or whatever and this came together first and I liked the fact that there was an opportunity to have it be much lighter in tone and have a greater sense of humor to the character and still have that epic adventure but have it be more fun. That’s what we aimed for in the script and Cedric (Nicolas-Troyan the director) had the same intention.

Eric in the forestEric in the forestCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: And Jessica how was this experience for you?

  • Jessica: It was great. I had just done a lot of movies where I was playing characters going through very dark things and I was so bored with my life. I was like “Oh, my gosh, I’m always on a set constantly playing these sad things. I want to do something fun”. So, being on the set with all these people, we laughed a lot. It’s the most laughing I think I’ve ever had on a set.

Eric and Sara PostersEric and Sara PostersCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Despite the title, it seems to be a very female film, a lot of powerful women…

  • Jessica: It’s Girl-centric.
  • Charlize: Chris is the biggest girl. (laughter)
  • Chris: There’s only one princess in this movie. (laughter)
  • Jessica: (He’s) the damsel in distress.

Sara plans her next moveSara plans her next moveCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Oookay but there’s a lot of female power and the girls are kicking ass so can you talk about doing the action in this and showing off your fighting skills?

  • Emily: Oh God, I’ve got to leave that to Jessica because Charlize and I spent our time hobbling around in high heels going “My feet hurt”. That was the extent of our action.
  • Charlize: (In Valley Girl voice) This dress is heavy.
  • Emily: And Jessica would come to the make-up bus just pouring with sweat from some awful, stunt-coordinated thing.
  • Charlize: I have a very vivid memory of Cedric one day when we were doing the fight sequence where (Jessica) jumps from the balcony and he’s like “You’re a little close to this step right here but I need you right on the edge and when she comes down you just have to turn” and I was like “Do you know what I’m wearing?” Then he’s like “you turn into ravens and it’s really fast”. I was like “you lost me at fast. Nothing’s going to be fast about this”. Then as I’m bitching and moaning about turning in the scene I’m looking at Jessica who is ready to jump way up there with barely a harness on. There’s no mat and I’m like “Oh my God, I need to shut up”.  I had like four crew members holding me up but I did it myself, guys. I was like “Can I get somebody to just hold me up right here?” We needed to get Chris in there (but he wasn’t in the scene).  

Q: Are you about to start “Mary Poppins”, Emily?

  • Emily: Maybe (she is rumored to play Mary in a remake of the classic Disney film).

Q: When you started in films, did you envision any of this success? 

  • Emily: No, I did not envision any of this. I feel like when I entered the industry, and not to sound cavalier but I had a pretty casual expectation of what would happen because I wasn’t even intending to be an actress. I did a school play and an agent came to see me and, within a year, I’m on stage with Judi Dench (“M” in some of the new James Bond movies).
  • I really was so green and I knew nothing. I was eighteen and I hadn’t trained. Judi really paved the way for me to approach the industry, to walk into every room with great hope because you just never really know where it’s going to take you. I’ve learned to really embrace the unknown and trust my instincts with the choices that I make and the movies I’ve chosen to do. I think acting is the ultimate form of empathy in some ways. I love it but I think I entered the industry not knowing what on earth I was walking into and I think maybe that helped that I didn’t have any expectations for it.

Ravenna Vs SaraRavenna Vs SaraCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Jessica, how did you train for your action?

  • Jessica: Universal sent someone to New York to work with me to have a way of fighting that made sense opposite Chris because (his character) Eric is like a wall. He’s got this brute force and he can take a punch and he takes a lot before he falls down whereas Sara, if she’s hit, she’s probably going to go down immediately. Just because of our size difference the fighting style needed to be faster and using the opponents momentum and their weight against them.
  • Then I went to London for three weeks and worked with the stunt team before we started shooting. The last week, I started training in the shoes that I wear which have lifts in them, about four and a half inches so they look like flats but inside, it’s a heel and that was shocking because after a few weeks with the stunt guy I thought “Oh, I’ve got this” in my tennies then all of a sudden, I put the boots on and thought “Oh this is really different”. 

Sara takes aimSara takes aimCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Charlize and Emily in the Queen-off (battle), how important was body language because Freya and Ravenna carry themselves in certain ways when they are in scenes together.

  • Charlize: Oh, I think the costumes really changed my posture. There is something about a corset that makes you sit up straight. I loved wearing that cape because it did something for me. I’d have to slant my neck forward. Otherwise my hair and my crown would get caught in the neck (collar) part of it. When I didn’t have (the costume) on I could see a difference when we were watching playback.
  • It was almost like something coming at you that I had to naturally do because of the costume. I feel like most of it was reacting to Emily. The scenes were written for us to listen to each other and respond. That’s what I loved. I felt like in the first film, I didn’t really have any of that because Ravenna was not letting anybody speak and wouldn’t listen to anybody and was kind of just yelling at people. This was nice because her sister can kind of get through to her and she hears her sister.

Ravenna casts a spellRavenna casts a spellCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: For Chris, did it feel different this time around? Was it more of a boys’ club the first time and more like a girls’ club for this movie? What was it like on set?  

  • Chris: That was great. (all the girls on the panel are staring at him). I loved working with you guys. It was a whole difference of energy on this because we all had our kids on set a lot of the time. Normally, the set tends to be a respectful, quiet kind of a place and that was just thrown out the window when the kids came and they were chasing each other around with weapons and yelling “Get him! Kill her!” and things like that so …
  • Charlize: So we’re raising them really well.
  • Chris: We raised them really well and taught them how to survive in a vicious kingdom but (these women) are all so incredibly talented and I’d met them all prior to shooting. I’d worked with Charlize but neither of these two ladies and it was amazing, just taking notes and trying to keep up. Being amongst them was a pretty wonderful experience.
  • Charlize: Aww, stop it.
  • Emily: Please.

Ravenna and Freya PostersRavenna and Freya PostersCourtesy of Universal Studios

Q: Charlize, what is new about the Ravenna character this time around?

  • Charlize: I felt the character was the same but I could explore her in a different space and I felt like Freya’s character brought a breath of fresh air that I could survive on in this film. I think if that wasn’t there, it would have felt repetitive and I don’t know if I would have been interested in doing it.
  • I think the core of the character is exactly the same but we are seeing different elements and different sides of her because she is in different circumstances. I think she loves her sister really deeply and it’s all the more crushing when she destroys the relationship so brutally. I was very interested in that. (To Emily) Did I make you cry?
  • Emily: I was staring off into the distance so long that my eyes started to water
  • Charlize: I do this to Emily quite a bit. I bore her to death (laughter).
  • Emily: Did I look like I was crying? I’m sorry. I was just in another world for a second.
  • Charlize: Drunk again.
  • Emily: Drunk again.

Q: The relationship between the sisters seemed very real.

  • Charlize: Emily always says that family is the most complex relationship you can have. Ravenna had a brother in the first movie but she was so abusive to him it was kind of one-dimensional that relationship and I think watching two sisters in this one, there was something very intricate about it. I agree with you. It’s very real. I think family can sometimes do the most damage to each other.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Freya and Ravenna PosterThe Huntsman: Winter’s War Freya and Ravenna PosterCourtesy of Universal Studios

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is in theaters Friday!


Have Your Say

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