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In Snow White and the Huntsman, the evil Queen has a back story. The daughter of a sorceress, Ravenna slowly found her way to the dark side. Abducted by a vicious master when she was a girl, the only power Ravenna wielded was her astonishing beauty. Though her mother bestowed upon her an enchantment to protect her from the ravages of time, Ravenna is forced to maintain it by consuming the life force of young maidens.
After she bewitched and killed Snow White’s father, King Magnus, Ravenna stalled her death and threw off the balance of life with an evil that spread across the kingdom. But her cruelty did not end there. To become truly immortal, Ravenna must consume the heart of Snow White…the moment her stepdaughter becomes the fairest in the land.
Because she’s become the fairest of them all, the evil Queen Ravenna sets out to destroy Snow White. But after Snow escapes the Queen’s clutches, a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is sent out to find her so she can eat her heart in order to stay young and beautiful. But the twist is, once the Huntsman finds Snow White, he takes a liking to her and trains her to fight.
While at the press junket, Charlize Theron talked about what it was like playing this new, evil Queen, how you may feel a tinge of sympathy for her, the spectacular costumes and what Kristen Stewart is like to work with.
On what’s different about this version of Snow White.
Theron: I read the Brothers’ Grimm version as a young adult and I found them to be incredibly dark stories so it was shocking for me to discover this later on in life and the way we’ve come to water the story down. Now, I think we’ve gone back to some of those original ideas behind the story and thematically stayed true to it but brought it back to a dark tone. I had no problem with that. I love that stuff!
What drew her to the part of Queen Ravenna.
Theron: It was a mixture of a very iconic story and a very iconic character and a time to retell that in a way that the challenge was ‘how do you take that and turn it on its head a little bit so that people can enjoy it and it doesn’t feel like a regurgitated story?’ It was about the potential the story had and we all felt that the story lent itself to that exploration. If it didn’t, I don’t think any of us would have done a story that everyone just knows. And also, visually, I’ve never been a part of something so extravagant, amazing and fantastical and epic. All of that for me was a huge plus and I was like, ‘you want me to be in my own castle?’ sure why not!
What we can expect from this evil Queen.
Theron: She is manipulating you…she will eat your small child…and pets! But I don’t think I would have wanted to play her if we didn’t ground her in some small reality. The way I work, I’m really driven by if it doesn’t make sense to me then I don’t know how to play it.
Ravenna’s mother instilled into her at a very young age that she can only be her true best self if she remains young and stays beautiful. She realizes that her magical powers are her survival. And that’s the road she travels.
We had to kind of work backwards to sort of discover why she was the queen we’ve come to know over the centuries. Building that back story for her and stripping away at all the menacing attributes and coming back to that little girl that was taken away from her mother at age eight and given to a king to be a wife and by age 11 she was too old for him. I mean, that informs you a lot as to what someone would be thinking and what they would do in order to survive in their life. So I think it’s finding the human in there so I think people will be moved.
Theron: The whole hair and makeup team was incredible. Once you have that hair and makeup done and you put that costume on, it’s almost impossible to not embody that character. Colleen Atwood (costume designer) truly understood the themes of this story, and that it is not just about beauty. Everything had to look a certain way to Ravenna because that’s her philosophy in life. She lives in a man’s world. She’s been told by her mother to believe that men will only allow you to be as good as you possibly can be, if you are beautiful.
I knew the costumes were going to be spectacular, but Colleen took it to another level. I felt like every costume had a feeling of not quite what it seems. In a way, these dresses were like torture devices for Ravenna. I love that because I feel like Ravenna was, in a way, more torturous toward herself than to the people that she was killing.”
Working with Kristen Stewart.
Theron: She’s amazing and she’s incredibly talented. I love her tenacity. She comes to work and she’s really excited to be there and that to me says this is someone who really loves her job and wants to push the envelope and wants to stretch it and pull it. I love how focused she is on the stuff that matters more than the stuff that doesn’t. She’s a great girl to be around and I find her refreshing.
Snow White and the Huntsman stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones and opens Friday, June 1.