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When the casting team behind ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ settled for Kristin Stewart as Snow White, the other title character to be cast was, of course, the Huntsman: Eric, a hunter who knows the Enchanted and Dark Forests like the back of his hand. Not only did the Huntsman once have respect for the animals he tracked, he also still has the ability to think like one.
But after his wife, Zara, died, Eric found his only comfort as a mercenary and a drunk. Now, the Huntsman has been tasked to follow Snow White into the forest and return her to Ravenna, who needs to consume her heart. But when Eric discovers the treachery of the Queen, he channels his rage into training a young woman who is determined to end what Ravenna began. Eric begins to see in Snow White an end to the darkness and to believe that the king’s standard could fly again.
Initially conceived as a character much older than Snow White, the Huntsman morphed during the screenplay’s development. Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, was courted for the part after the filmmakers watched him in his career-defining role as the Nordic god of war. His charisma and on-screen presence convinced them that he could embody the tortured former soldier who finds salvation in a young woman called Snow White.
With his attitude, humor, intensity and physical presence, Hemsworth proved he could bring life to the character and serve as the ideal balance between Stewart and Charlize Theron. Shares producer Sam Mercer of their choice: “We spent a fair amount of time exploring who should be the Huntsman and how to round out the triangle. Through the evolution of talking to many actors and getting their takes on it, we discovered Chris. He is becoming a huge star, and we knew we had to have him.”
Hemsworth’s first day on set was one of the most intimidating of the shoot: his big scene with Theron in which the Queen dispatches the Huntsman. Joe Roth knew that Hemsworth was up for the challenge of matching wits with the Oscar winner. The producer compliments: “The guy is built like a linebacker, he’s gorgeous to look at, and he has great depth of character. Chris is the guy that puts up 110 percent all the time.”
Discussing his part, Hemsworth says: “The Huntsman is a lost soul. He has given up on life and himself. When we first meet him, he’s a drunk, living alone in the woods working as a mercenary, hunting and tracking. He is then assigned the role of finding Snow White and bringing her back to the Queen.” Offering his reason for tackling the role, Hemsworth states: “I liked the idea of playing the reluctant hero: rough around the edges but with a good heart underneath. We tried to push the inconsistencies of his character, keep him unpredictable.”
Hemsworth also appreciated the “classic Western character” that the writers had drawn and the visual style that his director ensured. The performer adds: “I read it with Rupert [Sanders, director], and I saw visually how creative he was. We had discussions about character and story, and I was inspired by what he said.
I’ve worked with plenty of people who have done far more films than Rupert, but many are not nearly as equipped, focused or innovative as he is. He’s unreal. I love these types of films: big, fantastical, epic stories that have a real heart at the center of them. They’re relatable characters, and the story is about hope and inspiration and love and tragedy. These are the things that we all deal with, but the story is told on an incredible, vivid background.”
Although Hemsworth and Stewart carefully practiced their fight scenes together, mistakes were made during production. During a particularly vigorous take, Stewart accidentally punched the seasoned kickboxer in the face. His nose swelled up, and his wound had to be covered up with makeup. Stewart was truly a match for this Huntsman.
Image Courtesy of http://www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com/