Screenwriter Evan Daugherty Talks SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, the Film’s Action-Adventure Style, and His TV Show AFTER THOUGHT

by     Posted 3 years, 7 days ago

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Yesterday, the first teaser trailer for Rupert SandersSnow White and The Huntsman arrived online, and—based on the feedback I’ve been privy to—the response has been cautiously optimistic.  The film features Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Kristen Stewart (the Twilight franchise), and Charlize Theron (the upcoming Young Adult), and from what we saw in the trailer, Sanders has put together the most action-packed take on the Snow White story ever to grace the silver screen.  But besides Hemsworth tossing around a big-ass hatchet, what can we expect from this somewhat-bizarre new take on the Snow White story?  I sat down with the film’s writer, Evan Daugherty, to get answers.  You can find out what he had to say for himself after the jump, folks.

Let’s just come right out and say what everyone’s thinking here:  do we really need another Snow White movie?  Like Robin Hood, the Snow White legend has been adapted to film many times, with varying degrees of success (the Disney version is the gold standard, but God knows there’s been plenty of other adaptations:  IMDb tells me there’s no less than 20 films with Snow White in the title), and another go ‘round seems like it might be…well, a little less than original.

At least, that’s what I was thinking before yesterday’s Snow White and The Huntsman teaser trailer arrived.  This version—written by Evan Daugherty, [Edit: Daugherty's people inform us that he's the only credited writer on the film], and directed by Rupert Sanders—showed off what appears to be a bit of an epic:  massive monsters, elaborate sets, Hemsworth whipping hammers around like lawn darts, and—in one very memorable shot—star Charlize Theron writhing around in nothing more than what appears to be milk.  This version of Snow White might turn out to be a complete trainwreck (I’d bet against that, but who knows these days?), but if that trailer’s any indication, it’ll be one of the most interesting-looking, action-packed, Snow White-based trainwrecks Hollywood’s ever produced.

Anyway, the trailer got me curious, so I was happy to sit down with Evan Daugherty to ask a few questions about the production.  If you’re into the whole brevity thing, here’s the highlights from our chat:

  • Daugherty just sold a TV pilot to NBC, currently titled After Thought, which he tells me is “Inception meets CSI”.
  • Daugherty says he wrote the film “sitting in a dorm room in (his) boxers” back in 2003.
  • He also tells us that Snow White and The Huntsman is more “action-adventure”-ish than the other Snow White project currently on the horizon (that’d be Mirror, Mirror, arriving next March).

And now, for the rest of our slightly-more-patient readers, here’s the full transcription of the conversation I had with Daugherty last night:

So, the trailer debuted online today, and—from what I’ve seen—the response seems to be pretty positive…

EVAN DAUGHERTY:  Yes!

And so, the first question I want to ask you is, why another Snow White movie?  We’ve seen a whole bunch of variations on the Snow White story.  To me, it’s the same thing as another Robin Hood.  So, what’s different about this version?

DAUGHERTY:  Well, I wrote this script in 2003, when I was a humble college student, sitting in my boxers and writing in my dorm room.  And I came up with the idea of writing an action-based Snow White, with this kind of Huntsman character as kind of a way in.  So, that’s something I’m sort of proud of.  Some people think that this is the era of revisionist fairy tales, and was this sort of a cynical grab?  Well, the fact of the matter is, this is something that came from a very organic place.  I think there’s something to be said for the fact that people in Hollywood didn’t want to make it back then, y’know, and that fairy tales somehow became a trend…but, for me, when you’re looking back at those old fairy tales, those stories are sort of about men saving women and the heroic prince saving the damsel in distress.  And that didn’t seem like a particularly modern way of talking about things.  So, my guiding principle became, “What if, instead of saving Snow White, the Huntsman teaches Snow White to save herself?”

Uh-huh.

DAUGHERTY:  So, the reason I’m excited about it is, what had been a sort of frilly, fairy-tale world has been reinvented with a more subversive tone.  There’s more action and adventure, it’s very Lord of The Rings-ish, and that’s something that’s been in there from the very first draft.  People seemed kind of surprised by the teaser, but I was like, “Yeah, well, that’s what it is.”  Y’know, I read the talkbacks and the comment boards, and there’s always some haters out there…but I think with this people see our intentions.

I think the teaser did a pretty decent job of showing that it was a different take on the story, for sure.  When you were writing, did you have anyone in mind for the part of Snow White?  If you were writing or back in 2003, surely you weren’t thinking of Kristen Stewart for the role back then, right?

DAUGHERTY:  Not really.  That was more in the era of Keira Knightley, but funnily enough, and I think I was telling this to Kristen, but…I wrote Snow White shortly after Panic Room came out.  And when we were just hanging around the dorms with my buddies talking about the movie, I think I did say that Kristen Stewart would be good for the role.  Obviously, she’d need to be a little older, but it would take a few years to get the movie made.  I mean, that was her first big thing—Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room.

I always forget she was in that.

DAUGHERTY:  Well, y’know, she’s really young, and she’s got super-short hair.  But it’s a great movie, and she had to carry quite a bit of…y’know, there’s only, like, four people in that movie.   That’s a pretty big acting load for that age.

What did it feel like when you found out they actually wanted to make it after all these years?

DAUGHERTY:  It was insane, surreal.  I wrote it purely for fun—I mean, also because I wanted to be a screenwriter someday, but also for fun—but it wasn’t until years later that I got an agent, and even then it was sitting on a hard drive for a long time.  But once it started coming together it was just surreal.  When I wrote the scene about the Huntsman being sent to kill Snow White by the Queen, I was just sitting alone in my room, thinking up weird stuff.  And then, this morning, seeing the trailer, I was like, “well, there’s that scene”.  It’s really just surreal.  And cool.

What do you think about the competing Snow White project?  It seems like every few years two projects will spring up that are mirrors of one another:  Deep Impact and Armageddon, or when they were talking about making two Alexander movies.  Now it’s two Snow Whites.  What do you think about that:  creative synergy, or is someone getting ripped off?

DAUGHERTY:  I don’t think people are getting ripped off.  That’s just a function of the way Hollywood works behind the scenes.  The truth is, there are probably eight more Snow White scripts floating around out there.  And once one Snow White script got hot, other people started pulling out their Snow White scripts.  I dunno, I think theirs is a little more kid-friendly, a little more cartoon-y and family-friendly?  I think it’s called Mirror, Mirror now, so it doesn’t even have Snow White in the title.  But it seems like the two movies are trying to distance themselves from one another, which seems like a smart move.

Yeah, I’d agree.

DAUGHERTY:  When I visited the set for Snow White a couple weeks ago, it was like…y’know, it’s a big Lord of The Rings kinda thing, with axe-fighting and trolls and armies fighting.  And I think the other’s more fairy-tale-ish and traditional.

Obviously that would put pressure on a production to get your movie out first, but in a practical sense, how much do you actually think about that stuff?  Is it something hanging over the production every day, or something you think about once and then never again, or not for a long time?

DAUGHERTY:  To be honest, I haven’t heard too much about the other Snow White recently.  In the early days, there was some talk, and we were like, “Do we need to worry about this?”  But not now.  Once it became clear that we were getting Charlize and Chris and Rupert Sanders we stopped worrying about their movie and more about ours.  By the way, though, their movie comes out first.  Ours comes out in June, while theirs comes out in March…but remember, when Deep Impact and Armageddon came out, both those movies did well.  I think there’s room, especially since each is carving out its own vibe.

Cool.  Now, Kristen Stewart’s a wildly popular actress amongst the Twilight set, and Snow White’s a popular story with children.  But for every two Twilight fans, there’s probably one Twilight…uh…non-fan.  How are you planning to convince all the Twilight haters and non-fairy-tale fans that they need to come out to theaters to see another Snow White?  Do you anticipate any difficult getting adult males into theaters for this?

DAUGHERTY:  Well, that’s a very good and salient point you make.  Because it is based on a fairy tale, and it does have a female lead.  But one of the great things about this sort of project—and one of the reasons I think they wanted to make it—was that this movie isn’t just about Snow White.  It’s called Snow White and The Huntsman, because you’ve got Kristen Stewart being mentored by Chris Hemsworth, who’s sort of doing his badass Thor thing.  But instead of hammers, he’s got axes.  So, I think the teaser kind of speaks for itself.  I think it’s kind of a tough, muscular, gritty…and, by the way, I’ve visited the set, and I can tell you that this is a pretty badass Kristen Stewart that you haven’t seen before.  So, hopefully, I’d say look at that teaser.  Up until now, when I’ve told my peers—guys in their 20’s and 30’s—that I was working on a Snow White action movie, they were kind of like, “OK, yeah, well, good luck with that”.  But after the teaser was up, I posted that to my Facebook or whatever, and they were like—hopefully honestly—“wow, this actually looks pretty cool”.

I think you were smart to have an action-heavy trailer.  And some of the effects looked pretty cool.

DAUGHERTY:  Yeah!  And, by the way, the movie’s a lot like the teaser.  I’ve seen a mock-up of the opening battle, and it’s pretty intense.  No one’s pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes.

charlize-theron-snow-white-and-the-huntsman-imageWhat kind of rating are you aiming for?

DAUGHERTY:  I’m almost certain it’ll be a PG-13.  Don’t quote me on that…or, well, yeah, quote me on that.  But this is going to be as smart and cool as a big action movie can be.  There’s some swords, some hacking, some axes and scary creatures…

Just out of curiosity, what’s that big-ass beast-looking thing in the woods that we see in the trailer?  I was curious about that.

DAUGHERTY:  Ah, yes.  I dunno if I should say.  I dunno what I’m on radio-silence on.  It’s…I’ll say this:  that’s a critical moment in Snow White’s progression from where she starts at the beginning on the road to become the armored Snow White we see at the end of the trailer.

Cool.  You got any other projects you wanna talk about?

DAUGHERTY:  Yeah!  That TV show, After Thought, is really exciting.  It’s a cross between Inception and CSI that I’m working on with Melissa Rosenberg from the Twilight movies.  And we’re shooting a movie that I wrote in January that used to be called Shrapnel;  it’s now called Killing Season.  That stars Robert DeNiro and John Travolta, and it’s…remember that movie The Edge, where it’s like two dudes fighting in the woods, very small-scale?  It’s like that.

Awesome!  Well, thanks for your time, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again before the film comes out!

DAUGHERTY:  Absolutely!

And that, my friends, was my time with Evan Daugherty.  Stay tuned for more on Snow White and The Huntsman as we get closer to the film’s June, 2012 release date, and be sure to sound off in the comments section with your thoughts on yesterday’s teaser trailer:  if Evan’s telling us the truth (and we believe he is!), he’ll be reading your thoughts!

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