Snow White Hangs Out with Some Very Cool Dwarfs

by | Jun 23rd, 2011 | 12:19PM | Filed under: News

I can’t say I was super excited for any of the three new Snow White movies in the pipeline, and after Red Riding Hood, I’m not exactly all-fired jazzed for another attempt to Twilight-ize a fairy tale. But the casting announcements of the dwarfs for Snow White and the Huntsman suddenly has my full interest and has my enthusiasm upped from “whatever” to “wow, yeah!”

Snow White and the Huntsman stars Kristen Stewart as Snow, Charlize Theron as the evil stepmother, and Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman (replacing Viggo Mortensen, who dropped out). It gives the story a more grown-up, emotionally complex spin, in which the huntsman sent to kill the exiled Snow White (as in the old fairy tale) has a change of heart due to the loss of his own beloved wife years before. Instead he begins to train Snow to fight and defeat the stepmother.

(As Erika wrote earlier this year, Huntsman is directly competing with The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, directed by The Cell and The Fall’s Tarsem Singh and starring Julia Roberts as the stepmother and The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer as the prince. Tarsem’s film is already shooting and will likely beat Huntsman to theaters. There’s also a long-in-development live-action Disney version, to be helmed by I Am Legend and Water for Elephants Francis Lawrence. It’s a modern telling in which the Snow White character travels to China and meets up with martial-arts warriors in the dwarfs’ spot.)

This week the following casting deals were in various stages of completion for the dwarfs (Brits, all) who will shelter and aid Snow. (And mostly likely be “shrunk” down a la the hobbits and dwarfs in Lord of the Rings.) Instead of cute Disney nicknames, each of them is named after a Roman emperor–that right there is plenty geek-nip to a Roman history buff like me.

Caesar – Ian McShane The leader of the dwarfs will be played by the Great McShane (Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), who we are thankfully seeing a lot more of on screen these days. For several years after Deadwood, McShane focused mostly on voice-over work in Coraline, Kung Fu Panda, and The Golden Compass, as well as the under-appreciated TV show Kings, but he’s on a dark, revisionist fairytale roll lately–he’s also playing the king in Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer.

Tiberius — Eddie Izzard One of my favorite comedians of all time will play the big bruiser of the dwarf gang. Izzard often pops up in supporting roles in movies like Mystery Men, Renegade, Ocean’s Twelve and Valkyrie, and does voice work this weekend in Cars 2.

Trajan — Ray Winstone Since 2000′s Sexy Beast (where he starred alongside McShane) Winstone’s been an instant-improvement to any film he does, including 2004′s King Arthur, The Departed, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 44 Inch Chest (also with McShane), Edge of Darkness, and of course his brilliant starring role in The Proposition.

Constantine – Bob Hoskins The blind Constantine will be played by the Roger Rabbit and Hook co-star, who has also been returning to higher-profile screen roles lately, including supporting work in Made in Dagenham.

Claudius — Toby Jones Claudius the dwarf has been described as “timid” in the new film (a nod to Robert Graves’ classic novels and the brilliant 1976 BBC adaptation of I, Claudius?) and will be played by terrific character actor Jones. You might recognize Jones from Infamous (the “other” Truman Capote film), The Mist, or W., or from more recent work in The Rite and Your Highness. (Plus he’s the voice of Dobby in the Potter films.)

Hadrian — Eddie Marsan I’ve been singing Marsan’s praises in recent years, with fine turns in Happy-Go-Lucky, Me and Orson Welles (as John Houseman), Red Riding, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, and Sherlock Holmes. Snow White‘s Hadrian is (appropriately enough, if you know your Roman history) the twin brother of the dwarf Trajan.

Nero – Stephen Graham Yes, as the angriest of the new dwarfs, Graham has the least-known name, but trust me, you don’t get included in a cast this great unless they know you can hold up your end. Graham was absolutely tremendous in 2006′s very good, little-seen Brit indie This is England–he’s also done a ton of character-actor work in films like Gangs of New York, Snatch, Public Enemies (he was the crazed Baby Face Nelson), and recently in Season of the Witch and Pirates 4.

How’s all that sound to everyone?

11 Responses to “Snow White Hangs Out with Some Very Cool Dwarfs”

  1. Trevor L
    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Wow, I really like the casting here, although I’m infinitely more excited about Tarsem Singh’s film as The Fall was an amazing film.

  2. Fiirvoen
    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    These actually all sound good. I’m surprised!

  3. Rachel
    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    This sounds like it is going to be really good. I am excited to see what it will be like.

  4. moviegoer123
    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    It seems like an interesting film and cast. I’m interested in seeing the film with the great cast…heard some of these actors before and had seen some of their movies.

  5. Dave
    Posted on June 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Interesting casting but how are they going to give each actor enough to do? ANd why do we need THREE new versions of Snow White?

  6. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on June 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    So when do you plan on telling us about each Roman Emperor and how they match up to their Disney counterparts? That would be an interesting post :)

  7. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on June 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Dave, I doubt each “dwarf” role gets much to do, though if they’re hiring this many semi-big-name actors, it would seem to suggest they have more than you’d think in mind for each role. (That or the hiring of so much talent is just a — costly? — way to drum up publicity for the film. In which case, success!)

    As for why three Snow Whites, it’s not a matter of NEEDING them. (Do we NEED Cars 2 or Transformers 3?) but there’s been a trend lately, spurred by sales of Twilight tickets, toward dark, moody, Gothic fairytale-type films as well as a cycle of fairytale revisionism with Brothers Grimm, Enchanted, etc. So it was just the usual ebbs and flows of industry trend-chasing that brought three studios into Snow White films at the same time.

    The big money is probably on Tarsem’s version, since it has the big-name star in Julia Roberts, and has a head start, but I’ll be honest — while Trevor is right about Tarsem being an incredible visual stylist, I’ve yet to really connect with any of his films on any sort of emotional or even entertainment level, but maybe the Snow White story will break that mold. You know me, I tend to root for the underdog, in this case this Kristen Stewart one with McShane et al — it sounds maybe a little more edgy and daring.

  8. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Jennifer, it’s impossible to say — I haven’t read a Huntsman script, so all I know about each of the dwarfs is what I included in the article above. It seems like there may be some sly, sideways nods to the historical nature of the emperors vs the dwarf characters, but there are also plenty of seemingly intentional incongruities. For example, Tiberius was hardly a burly brute like the Izzard dwarf is described, and the real Constantine was not blind. And Nero wasn’t an angry emperor… tyrannical maybe.

    In fact that gets at the problem with trying to ascribe personalities to the Roman emperors and by extension these dwarf characters: our impressions of historical emperors is always shaped, clouded, tainted and manipulated by the historical authors. Writers like Tacitus and Suetonius always had their own personal and political reasons for painting a particular emperor in a certain light (just like political writers today writing about their favorite or most hated president). Claudius and Nero have bad reps in Christian history because they persecuted early Christians (though probably no more or less than they made examples of any political, social, or religious groups they felt might be subverting the notion of Roman rule).

    I have no idea, again without having read the Huntsman script, why the writers are picking these emperor names — it could be as simple as they like the sounds of them (for example, Ceasar is always going to be a great name for a powerful leader character), or maybe they’re making subtle or symbolic connections, or deliberately going in the opposite direction with characters for the sake of irony.

  9. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on June 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    But you just had fun right now, didnt ya ;)

  10. Matthew the Movie Geek
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I still stand by my previous statement a while ago that “Snow Glass Apples” from Gaiman would be amazing onscreen.

  11. Chole
    Posted on July 25, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I don’t see why they are “downsizing” averagesize actors when there are a number of incredible actora who happen to be little people. (ie Peter Dinklage). It’s like putting caucasian actors in blackface.