“It was like having three sisters that just beat me up all the time”
With its marble floors, luxurious fixtures, plush suites and aura of elegance and glamour, Mayfair’s prestigious Claridge’s Hotel is the very best fit for The Huntsman: Winter’s War cast as they glide into the French Salon to settle down to talk all things film at the UK press junket. The A-list stars Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth, Rob Brydon, Nick Frost and Alex Roach all took their seats with the ever-lovely Edith Bowman to start dishing the details on their brilliant new movie.
While a sense of glamour and celebrity oozing from their presence, the cast couldn’t be more relaxed in both our company and each others; a friendly sense of camaraderie glowing from the tight-knit group. With Edith Bowman keeping us all in check, she introduces each cast member and reminds us about the epic story we’re about to discuss. Two sisters, one Huntsman, a fierce warrior and an epic battle; THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR.
One of the film’s biggest highlights is the plethora of amazing female characters and Blunt is certainly at the forefront of such brilliance. Her most recent roles in the likes of EDGE OF TOMORROW and SICARIO have seen her take on roles that require both physical and emotional strength and her Ice Queen character in THE HUNTSMAN is no exception. When asked about her role choices at present, Blunt explained what she looks for when picking out characters:
“I do obviously try and pick characters that are empowered in some way and are complicated and are hard to pin down. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as one thing and this character for me was in a way quite vulnerable and emotionally a bit unhinged as a villain and that was really appealing.”
The star continued, “I do think there’s a new wave of better roles for women out there. You do have to search through the crap roles for women like the damsel-in-distress tied to a tree, but I think that there is a wave coming for better roles. I don’t think its a tsunami but a gentle, steady growth. It’s about maintaining it now, so I think I am aware of what I’m putting out there to the world now and I want to be challenged so I don’t want to repeat myself and I don’t want to just play one thing”.
It’s clear that Blunt loves the character she has put so much effort into creating and it seems knowing the full backstory of Freya’s pain helped in shaping the character. “The appeal to me was that you saw the origin of the character as a very normal girl, with normal hopes and desires for life, she’s perfectly happy not discovering this power that seems to be hereditary. She just wants to get married and have a child but she suffers this great loss, through that she becomes hardened and um, hair turns white, as it does.”
There’s a much lighter tone to this prequel/sequel of 2012’s SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and it appeared this was a conscious effort from all involved. Main man Chris Hemsworth touched upon this: “It was something we talked about when even discussing about doing the film. It was one of my focuses to be lighter in tone and having a greater sense of adventure, upping the humour and even in the early stages it was heading in that direction. I think it helps group the fantastical elements to the story and I know that when I’m watching an epic fantasy a bit of humour helps me to get into the world more”.
While Hemsworth does give a wonderfully comedic performance, funny men Rob Brydon and Nick Frost are clearly the comedic force in the film. Playing dwarf half brothers, Brydon and Frost make quite the impressive comedy duo and it’s clear to see just from their off screen chemistry just how much fun they have together.
Reprising his role from the first film, Frost joked about not having to base his character on anything new while Brydon spoke about his involvement in the script:
“On set, Cedric was very open to ideas and add-ons. There are several moments in the film when we improvised what he likes and went with. So in that sense it was lovely, if you had an idea for a little flourish or beat that you thought would add some lightness then you could put it in.”
Giggling and cracking jokes throughout the entire interview, it’s not hard to imagine the light-hearted, friendly atmosphere on set. Both Brydon and Frost are so naturally funny that Blunt, Hemsworth and Roach kept bursting out laughing, making us shake with giggle too. Despite this, the pair assured us that they were very well behaved on set and didn’t break character too much during filming. Somehow we don’t quite believe them.
It appears that Frost and Brydon weren’t the only ones who shared great chemistry as Alex Roach opened up about what it was like to work with the lovely Sheridan Smith and their gang of arse-kicking dwarves:
“There was a lot of prep, we actually went for three weeks of what we called ‘dwarf school’ which involved us getting to know each other with our doubles and training. Then going off behind Shepperton there is a woods there and our trainer would take us out and we’d play the role, all trying to bond!”
This sense of friendly banter and camaraderie is clearly something felt across the board and it’s wonderful to witness a cast so comfortable and happy in each others company. Chris Hemsworth took the time though to talk about some of his old cast members, particularly our former Snow White, Kristen Stewart: “Kristen Stewart was fantastic and helped set up this world we’re delving in. I’d love to work with her again and if we had the opportunity to pick up that story again I think there’s a lot of room for different versions of what we’ve already done”.
While Blunt and Roach were there representing the women from the film, we were missing the brilliant Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain who both play incredible roles in the film. Hemsworth spoke about what it was like to work with his on-screen love Chastain: “She’s just fantastic, she was always on the top of the list to play Sara. I saw her at the Golden Globes and asked if she’d gotten the script and she just said “Yeah, yeah I don’t care! Do I get to kick arse?” And she does, she kicks my arse a bit in the film too.”
Our Huntsman continued, “It was fascinating watching all the girls and their different styles, they’re all forces to be reckoned with and it was good fun. It was like having three sisters that just beat me up all the time. I’m used to brothers not sisters!”
It appears that Chastain isn’t the only one that impressed Hemsworth though as he recalls what it was like to work with Theron again: “She’s just amazing, she swears more than anybody I’ve ever met and is so powerful on and off the screen; she’s a lot of fun.”
“When you’re in a scene with her-” Blunt chimes in; “-it’s really scary. She has a thousand miles stare! When she locks in on you, she’s really exciting to work with and she’s really powerful, so uninhibited and I loved doing scenes with her. The best thing is, she doesn’t take any of it seriously as soon as the camera would cut she would be like “and then he turned to me and said…”. She would just continue her stories between takes.”
Seeing this brilliant cast together just proves how much fun they had filming, how great their working relationships were and just how much they love the characters they’re playing. Their chemistry both on screen and off is palpable and it really is a joy to watch.
One of the biggest points to take away from their enthusiastic words is how proud they are of the female involvement in the film and that is something that shines throughout the film’s narrative also. With applauses all round, the cast mingle about each other hugging and whispering in each others ears. Brydon helps a glowing Emily Blunt down the few steps and one can’t help but feel like we’re watching a close-knit little film family.
Take a look at the video below to watch the full press conference:
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR will be released in the UK by Universal Pictures on April 4th, 2016.