io9: We’ve been calling this film “black fantasy…
Rupert Sanders: Have you? Like Shaft?
io9: This movie makes us think about Eighties fantasy flicks like Willow and Beastmaster, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal — did you revisit a lot of these films?
RS: I didn’t actually. I actually tried to, but I don’t know, they belong to a different era. I revisited Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Victorian fairy painters who had been locked up in mental institutions. I revisited the Grimm’s fairy tales and a lot of the other Hans Christian Andersen tales. And just tried to immerse myself in the real fairy tales. “Black fantasy” is very different from “black fairy tales.” Fantasy films are here and fairy tales are here. There’s definitely a very thin dividing line. But a fairy tale film is very different, to me, from a fantasy film.
io9: From the look of the trailer, it feels like this movie should be called Evil Queen not Snow White. How much is Kristen Stewart in this film?
RS: She’s in it, ironically, more than the Evil Queen. I think when you market a film you have to kind of create something that people grab on to, a very simple story line. Our film has so many characters we chose one thing that people would understand and that’s the villain. And I think you will see, as the marketing gets closer, you’ll see more of Kristen woven into that.
io9: We’ve seen Kristen fight with a sword, we’ve seen Chris Hemsworth’s with an axe. What’s Charlize’s biggest weapon?
RS: It is within…she is the weapon. She kills people with a big curved scimitar, plunges it through their heart. She also grabs at people’s hearts. She doesn’t need many tools. The other boys need tools, she just gets straight in there.
i09: So like Temple of Doom?
RS: Yeah, a little bit like Temple of Doom, if you say so.
io9: So you have eight dwarves instead of seven, what’s the eighth dwarf’s name?
RS: The eight dwarf’s name is Gus, who is played by Brian Gleeson, who’s Brendan Gleeson’s son. He’s really the one who Snow White bonds with the most. He’s a lovable character. They’re a real band of roguish villains, the dwarves. They were also incredibly funny. It was great to work with those guys. They’re as funny on the screen as they are off-screen. They’re a lot of fun to be around.
io9: Are the rest of the dwarves named Happy and Sneezy? Or do they have names like Frank?
RS: No, they have names like Coll, Duir, Gort. We went for a much more kind of pagan version of the story. We set it in a particular world where there’s no room, frankly, for Happy, Sneezy and Grumpy.
io9: It’s been so long since we’ve had black fantasy or dark fantasy film — why do you think audiences are ready for it now?
RS: I think when you set out to make a film, I don’t think you go, “I think audiences are ready for this.” It’s a story that I really wanted to tell. And there’s a way that I wanted to tell that story, I hope that it sparks that thing in people that makes them say, “We’re ready for it.” Rather than us sitting down in front of a big chart going, “Are they ready for Eighties subgenre, or are they ready for Seventies cop movies?”