Last week we sat with a number of the filmmakers and actors of the latest tween adventure, Red Riding Hood (read review now). We has the opportunity to attend a press conference for the film in which the director Catherine Hardwicke, the overly talented one Gary Oldman who never seems to sensor himself with Charlie Sheen jokes and all, and the gorgeous and witty Amanda Seyfried spoke about making the movie and how her eyes scored her the part…
Gary, when you play these men possessed, do you ever have to reign yourself in, or can you go over the top and be an actor possessed?
GO: Well, I hope I’m not an actor possessed. And if I were, then I have Catherine here to reign me in. I mean, it depends what you’re playing but this is a fairy tale, albeit a dark twist on an already dark tale, but it is a fantasy so you can push the limits a bit in something like this. I mean, I think Solomon is, I viewed him as very sort of Shakespearean.
Amanda, did the love triangle or the darker version of the tale attract you?
AS: Actually, the thing that attracted me to this movie was – - I actually didn’t read the script before I met Catherine. She had crazy visuals to show me so I thought how difficult it is to make this old timeless tale into a full length movie, and she had these great ideas. Then I met with Leonardo DiCaprio and that was it.
How did Leonardo DiCaprio get involved as a producer?
AS: I don’t know.
GO: It was his idea. I believe so. It was Leonardo’s idea. I think he was looking for something for his company and was sitting down with Lucas Haas and said, “Hey, what about Red Riding Hood. We haven’t done that.” One of the few we haven’t done.
Amanda, how do you define your character? Do you think of her as sexually precocious, a 20th century girl in the black forest 500 years ago?
AS: Well, I think the first direction I had was – - well, I separated from the usual damsel in distress which is in most fairy tales, to somebody that’s completely not in distress at all. She’s this young, strong female that’s going through her life and realizing her sexuality and kind of trying to navigate herself through young adult life in this medieval village. So that’s how I kind of wanted to start playing it. Of course, she’s the heroine in the movie. It centers on her so she needs to have balls. That was really attractive because I like playing women that have just no fear, especially in the circumstances. She’s pretty brave.
Is she a modern woman?
AS: Well, yeah, and we added majorly contemporary elements to it like a love triangle and the coming of age element to it. It’s very contemporary how she’s dealing with her parents and the man she loves and the man that she was [betrothed to], yeah. Right, Catherine? She knows how to work a good coming of age story. You obviously are connected to that youthful kind of essence. You just know how to design that.
Catherine can you talk about what inspired the sexy, Renaissance spontaneous dance scene?
CH: Well, I’ve been to Burning Man. It’s pretty awesome and it really does hearken back to medieval times. It’s very tribal and exciting and burning effigies so David had this festival in the script and I’m like oh great, this will be fun. I’m going to go to town on this. So we came up with this whole dance. Our choreographer, Sarah Elgart, tried to create a dance that could be old and new at the same time. We looked at the paintings of Bruegel and Bosch that were painted at the same time period, but there was like abandonment like crazy cod pieces and people were just wild and sexy. They weren’t like Victorian age, so we said okay, this is license to make a super sexy fun pagan ritual and we went for it.
Amanda, talk about telling the story with Julie Christie and putting on the hood the first time?
AS: We had to use that and it didn’t seem to fit in any place except for something that was sort of like a dream. I think it works really well because that’s the iconic piece of the narrative. To do it with Julie Christie with prosthetics, big teeth and huge pupils, it was really cool the way we did it and we kind of used that lens where you just focus in on one thing. I think that’s the only way we could have done it really that would’ve worked and didn’t feel kind of stupid that we just threw it in there because we had to. It was just perfectly designed.
What was it like putting on the hood for the first time?
AS: Then putting the cape on for the first time, yeah. It was kind of a big deal when the cape came onto the set because it’s its own character because it’s the most iconic piece of the story. Then after a while it wasn’t really a big deal. I just got sick of it because it’s really heavy. It was so beautifully designed. It took a lot of time to make that cape really beautiful.
CH: There was like a sewing circle like 14 ladies in Vancouver that embroidered all the details on it. We really want it to have a lot of heart and soul.
AS: And it did.
Was there just one?
CH: Well, there was one main one that had everything and then there was like the backup cape.
AS: And then my stand-in wore like a half cape.
GO: A half cape for close-ups?
AS: No just to stand in literally, for standing in, like a half cape. It came down to her and her arms came out.
GO: I thought you meant only from the top up because Richard Burton, when he was playing Henry VIII, he would have what he’d call his going home trousers on. So he’d have normal clothes on because he wanted to get up quick to the pub, but he was Henry VIII from the waist up because it was close-ups. That’s what I thought you meant.
AS: No, I’m not that clever.
CH: She had leggings on underneath.
GO: You’re professional. You’ve got the whole thing.
AS: No, I have to be 100%, you know me.
Catherine, what did you see in Amanda, and the male suitors?
CH: Right, well actually really Amanda’s the only person I thought of for this part because I had been taken with her. One time she spoke at an autism benefit and she just said some simple words, but I just jumped up and she drew me in and was quite amazing. So I’ve been watching her in all these other parts and I saw she could be funny in Mean Girls and charming in this and sexy in Chloe and I’m like, man, that chick can do anything. I really thought what big eyes you have I guess. That’s one reason I thought of Amanda.
AS: I’ve got the biggest eyes in the business right now, between 17 and 25.
CH: So we measured her and she won.
GO: [Muffled so hard to hear ] I bet Charlie Sheen’s would measure bigger… [Laughter]
GO: The camera adores you. Always, every time we see you on the screen, you go oh my God, look at that face.
CH: I know. That’s kind of looks like a fairy tale I thought. Then the whole idea, once we had Amanda, is how do you find two guys that have that equal appeal but the chemistry works with the two guys so we started the search.
AS: 15,000 men line up.
CH: A chance to make out with Amanda Seyfried.
AS: I did make a joke about that last night on Kimmel. I said that literally they just came in one by one, I opened my mouth, we made out. Which is not really that false.
CH: Different from what actually happened.
Gary, how do you bring the reality to fantastic stories?
GO: Well, the reality is what is really on the page. I don’t really work too far away from the framework of the script. I think if something is well written, it gives you the clues and the answers are there. I always think that if something isn’t well written, then you’re working too hard and you know that you’re working hard. But they all each have sort of a different approach. I mean, the characters that you play, they all set up their own sort of particular hurdles that you jump over. This to me is Dracula light, I think. Yeah? You know, he’s a cousin of… But good words, that’s your map of the world. So it was a very defined character on the page to begin with so all the clues were there.
Wasn’t the original story a metaphor for losing virginity? Are we missing that her?
GO: I think probably, I had this conversation with someone, if this wasn’t a PG-13 then I think all those things that are kind of there if you want to look for them, I think you could’ve gone further with them if this was for an adult audience. You’ve got to remember that 14, 15-year-old kids are going to be watching this. But I think yeah, to me it’s about a little bit of S&M.
GO: A bit of incest.
AS: There’s a lot of incest. You could find that if you look for it.
GO: And it is a dark story that I think most of us – - I mean, I can’t remember how young I was when I heard it. I was so small I can’t remember. Maybe this was a way of I think protecting your kids. You told them these stories so they wouldn’t wander off. I mean, if there was a modern day equivalent, 21st century, maybe it’s a predator on the internet.
I thought it was a cautionary tale to young girls against rolling in the hay.
AS: I don’t know, I don’t think it’s going to keep girls from rolling in the hay. I think it’s going to make it really attractive, even more attractive than it already is.
CH: But it is about getting in touch with your dark side.
AS: Or just not ignoring your sexual impulses.
CH: And then finding the right way, or a way to act on them…. That’s the thing in fairy tales. You actually do confront your dark side, your impulses or your feelings of sibling rivalry in Cinderella or whatever. You admit that they exist and then you work through them and conquer them and come out living happily ever after having learned something. That’s one reason why the fairy tales keep having traction and meaning.
Well there you have it. Lots of sexual innuendos and pretty people talking — if you’re into this then you should definitely check out Red Riding Hood in theaters, now (started March 11th)!