On Friday, as WonderCon attendees advanced on Moscone Center South in San Francisco for a weekend of clips, panels and cosplay, The Blind Side star Lily Collins was wrapping up a deal that landed her the sweet role of Snow White in Tarsem Singh’s “modern retelling” of the classic Brothers Grimm tale. Collins received the news as she herself arrived in town for the show, where she was appearing to promote Scott Stewart’s upcoming manwha (Korean comic) adaptation Priest.
While the Legion director’s Paul Bettany-starring 3D action flick is looking great, we couldn’t resist sneaking in a few Snow White questions when we spoke with Collins, given how fresh it all was. She was predictably ecstatic, and seemed to fully appreciate enormity of being cast as such an iconic fairy-tale princess.
“I live in a fairy tale in my head sometimes. I am the biggest fantasy fairy tale fan. Magic, anything to do with that.”
“Snow White was one of my favorites and this happened so quickly. I literally read for it two days … at three o’clock, met Tarsem that night and was cast yesterday,” Collins said excitedly. “When I got off the flight yesterday to come here, I found out. So I have not tested with anyone, I have not read with anyone, I was just a huge admirer of Tarsem.”
Singh, perhaps best known for the fantasy-infused fever dream/film The Fall, was also at the show to hype the crowd for his November-releasing Greek(-ish) effort Immortals. Spinoff Online caught up with him as well, and it sounds as though things are moving very quickly now for Snow White.
“We’re building sets already,” he said. “We haven’t done a lot of casting, we just cast [Lily Collings as] Snow White. All of the other work is done and the set’s already [being] built. We start shooting in 10 weeks.”
He revealed that the production has more in common with Immortals, which makes heavy use of green screen to add further detail to the elaborate sets, than it does with The Fall, which was shot in a variety of actual locations. He said, “It’s all been designed and put in an interior, and we’re shooting that.”
Interestingly, Collins has a tie to Immortals. “She came in for the part of Athena,” Singh said, although he admits that even then he knew the role of the Greek would ultimately go to Isabelle Lucas.
“That’s how I met [Collins] a year ago,” the director continued. “I saw her and said, ‘She’s perfect for Snow White.'”
Collins is thrilled not just to be the top fairy-tale princess, but also to work with someone she admires so much in Singh. “He’s the epitome and definition of a visionary artist. I think he’s just insane. His vision is so crazy,” she gushed.
Collins has of course read the script, or at least “the latest version that they would release.” She thinks that some rewrites might be under way, but she was sold on Singh’s take from the first moment. “Those kind of things are rewritten a lot,” she said. “But from what I read, it just made me love it even more.”
She didn’t go into specifics, but it seems that this Snow White might not be exactly as you remember her, which is entirely fitting given the personality helming the feature. “We’re not making an edgy version of it, we’re not re-telling it in a way that you won’t recognize,” she said. “We’re ‘Tarsem-ing’ it is what I call it. Anything you put his twist on is going to be different and epic. Let alone the fact that it’s Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer and myself, it’s all really fresh in my mind.”
Singh has his own idea of what the word “edgy” means and what it stands for. “[For Snow White] I just said I do not want to go hardcore at all. When people are using words like, ‘Do you want to make an edgy Snow White?’ I said I have no interest in that.”
“It’s a very relative term that I think you use when you’re bankrupt of ideas and you try to get a director to say, ‘Let me make it edgy,'” he continued. “Edgy for who? Edgy for Disney? Edgy for Gaspar Noe? Edgy for me? Edgy for who? That was basically it. That will not be hardcore. I want to embrace the family in that.”
Before you start worrying that Singh is working on a movie that’s going to be all smiles and sunshine, take heart. Collins is already prepping for some active work on the set. “[Snow White] will be a lot of training, I’ve heard. She’s very feminine, but at the same time she turns into a fighter and so she [requires] a lot more training. Which I’m excited for!”