Chris Hemsworth The Huntsman: Winter's War

Chris Hemsworth The Huntsman: Winter's War

Chris Hemsworth The Huntsman: Winter's War

Cast: Sam Claflin, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rated: M
Running Time: 114 minutes

Synopsis: The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined. Chris Hemsworth and Oscar winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman Winter's War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga.

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White's blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya's ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen-including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)-only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.

When Freya learns of her sister's demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it's ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable.unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen's cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

The Huntsman: Winter's War
Release Date: April 7th, 2016

About The Production

Before Snow White: The Huntsman: Winter's War Begins

In 2012, Snow White and the Huntsman breathed new life into the fairy-tale genre with a dark, epic take on the classic story. The film, which starred Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, earned nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office and delighted audiences across the globe.

When it came time to consider a return to the dark fantasy world the creators had imagined, the producers decided to explore a story touched upon in the original, which alluded to Eric's past love and her tragic death. In Hemsworth's capable hands, the Huntsman proved to be such a popular character, and the notion of two parallel stories in this newly created universe appealed to all involved.

Taking that sideways look at the franchise also offered the filmmakers a chance to reflect on the success of the first movie, and identify areas of improvement. 'We didn't want this one to be as dark as the first picture," advises producer Joe Roth, who has reimagined fairy tales such as Maleficent and Oz the Great and Powerful"and whose expertise and storytelling in this genre is unparalleled. 'We also really wanted to deliver on the romance."

The script, by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin, based upon Evan Daugherty's characters, does just that, telling of Eric's doomed first"and only"true love, how they were brought together and how they were torn apart. Nested in this universe, it also serves as an origin story for the Huntsman, who arrived in the first adventure not as a mystery, but fully formed.

With the evil Queen Ravenna apparently defeated, everyone is living happily ever after in the kingdom under the reign of the rightful queen, Snow White. But when she banishes the Magic Mirror from her castle and it goes missing, Prince William can rely on only one man to bring it back: Eric the Huntsman. As Eric journeys to keep the Mirror's power out of dark hands and uncover the mystery of the one responsible for its theft, ghosts from his past return and he faces the greatest adventure of his life.

Chris Hemsworth explains that his draw to the prequel story had very much to do with the themes it explores. 'We don't survive without love in any form," he notes. 'This movie asks the question about what love means to Eric, and what he'll do for it."

The performer thinks the success of the first film lay not just in our familiarity with the Snow White legend, but also in the extraordinary production design that turned a once-chaste fairy-tale girl into a powerful warrior fighting for what she believes in. 'With this one, while staying in the same world, we have had the chance to lighten the tone in many ways. The aesthetic palette has been lifted."

It was important to the filmmaking team that this chapter unveils even more for the audience. Truly, the story tells another piece of the puzzle"one that's always been there, but unknown until now. 'The greatest thing about this world," notes Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, 'is that it's this wonderful in-between. It's not a full fantasy world, and it's not a fully historical one. Anchored within this pseudo-historic world, you can throw in magic and romance and more."

In Chris Hemsworth's Eric we saw a capable warrior and man of the woods"someone loyal and true, but not quick to share his feelings with the world. The Huntsman: Winter's War explores Eric's past, and we come to learn that he is far from alone. In fact, he's been fighting his whole life, at first for Freya, Ravenna's sister.

While Ravenna is a wicked devourer of souls and uses her dark magic to drain the life force of her prey, her little sister Freya is a good queen of snow and ice who has built her own frozen kingdom over the decades…quietly watching Ravenna's rise to power.

When the evil and power-hungry Queen Ravenna betrays the Ice Queen with an unforgivable act, the heartbroken Freya flees home and builds a kingdom as cold as her heart. No one can touch her ever again, and by amassing an army of Huntsmen"who were plucked from their families at an early age"she has ensured her protection…and neither she nor her soldiers will endure the pain of love again.

Eric was one such child soldier, conditioned to believe in his queen and to fight for her, yet too young to fully realise the pain within Freya's heart. But when he meets Sara, and they fall in love"something forbidden in Freya's realm"he quickly comes to learn that some things are more important than power and dominion.

'Freya's theme is that love kills," explains Joe Roth. 'But despite all her warnings, Eric and Sara can't help but form an attraction. The movie becomes about how we can get Eric and Sara together, despite the fact that Freya will do anything to stop it. In fairy tales, after all, love conquers everything."

'When you first saw Eric in Snow White and the Huntsman, he was a drunk and a lost man," reflects Chris Hemsworth. 'He had been living in despair and pity due to the loss of his wife. When he meets Snow White, he's reborn, and so when you pick up with him in this movie, he has his soul back and is living a quiet life in the wilderness."

But he's soon drafted in to help the queen once more, and without realising it, to face his past as well.

The filmmakers didn't need to look far to find a director with optimism, vision and creativity to tell Eric's story. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, a well-respected visual effects supervisor who was instrumental in the stunning visuals of the first film, had long harbored a desire to direct his own feature one day.

'The idea of being given a shot at directing this movie never even surfaced on my radar," he chuckles. 'I never dreamed I'd be given a movie of this scale as my first job. When I got the call, though, it was like it all made sense. Having worked on the first film, this felt like coming home."

Chris Hemsworth had long been impressed by the filmmaker, and so had no hesitation in lauding his name when the producers brought it up. 'I remember thinking on the first film that he had a real eye for storytelling, and that it wasn't just about visual aesthetics for him."

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan confirms: 'I was always more concerned with story and character than visual effects. Now that I'm working directly with my cast, it's all about the emotion"first and foremost."

For Joe Roth, the notion of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan as a first-timer seemed scarcely reflected in the experience and wisdom he brought to the set. 'I've overseen more than 400 movies, and you very quickly get a sense of who can do it and who can't. With Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, he always felt like an experienced director. He's not at all frightened by the level of actor we've put in front of him. His openness is something the cast loves; they can talk to him about anything, and he has a real point of view."

The director agrees with Hemsworth that the appeal of this universe lies as much in its heart as it does its muscle. 'It's not about saving the world," announces Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. 'This is emotionally driven, and it's a love story. I can put in all the monsters and all the cool shots in the world, but if"at the end of the day"I'm not being carried away by the characters on screen and the emotional content of what they're doing, I'm not going to have anything to grab onto."

That is especially true when we consider the titular character. Reflects Cedric Nicolas-Troyan: 'What was important about this film was to bring a little more je ne sais quoi to the Huntsman character. He's changed, now; he's not the same guy." He pauses. 'I loved the dwarves in the first movie, and I wanted to expand that and bring some more humor to the world."

Queens and Huntsmen: Expanding the Enchanted World

Bringing together an A-list group of performers on the first film was a challenge, but the cast assembled for The Huntsman: Winter's War is even more stellar. Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Nick Frost return to the universe they helped build, and they are joined for this outing by Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach, to name a few. 'They're all artists," commends Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. 'When you talk to this caliber of actor about their character, they're all-in. It's transporting, as a director, to work with them. I have a tendency not to storyboard emotional scenes, but rather to leave the flow to the actors and see what they come up with. There aren't many that can pull it off, but this cast can."

Chris Hemsworth admits that he was always drawn to the idea of exploring Eric's backstory. 'Why was he that drunk and despondent when we met at the beginning of Snow White and the Huntsman?" he asks. 'Finding that out is what appealed to me about this story."

In the time since the first film was released, Chris Hemsworth's star has ascended even higher, thanks in no small part to films in the Thor and Avengers series, as well as the period epic Rush and upcoming reimagining of Ghostbusters. 'The first time I saw Chris Hemsworth, I knew he was destined to be a star," says Joe Roth, who cast him in the first film. 'He has a quality about his soul that is open and allows him to come across as a good person to be around, which he is."

Reuniting with Chris Hemsworth was no chore for Charlize Theron. 'It says a lot about an actor when you get back together with him several years later and it feels like you saw each other the day before," she explains. 'He's just so consistent, because he really is who he seems to be, which is a great guy who understands his job and how to enjoy it. He blows you away."

Finding an actor of an equal caliber to play alongside Chris Hemsworth as Sara, his true love, was perhaps the production's greatest challenge. Indeed, a great warrior with a heart as true as Eric's, Sara required an actress with true power. Sara finds it impossible to believe that Eric has remained true to her all these years apart, and refuses to forgive him for what she believes he once did. When she is left with no other choice, she joins him on an epic journey; but she'd just as soon take a knife to his throat as she would trust him again. 'She's trying to figure out if she's worthy enough to be loved," explains Jessica Chastain, who took on the role. 'That's a big hurdle for her, and she has a lot of trust issues to overcome."

Jessica Chastain admits that she responded immediately to Sara's journey. 'I liked where she began and where she ended," she states, 'and I liked the secrets she holds. It was a character I'd never played before. I like the physicality, and I've done a lot of films that are dark and heavy, so I wanted to do something where I'm having a good time. This might be the most fun I've ever had."

The approach to Jessica Chastain began at the London Critics' Circle Film Awards. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain share an agent, and Chris Hemsworth pitched the character and promised to send a script. The actress' first question, according to Chris Hemsworth, was, 'Do I get to kick ass in this movie?"

'She gets to kick a whole lot more butt in this than she's done in the past," Chris Hemsworth confirms. 'Most of my work in the film is with Jessica Chastain. She has a great sense of humor, and we had a good amount of banter back and forth. It was quite brotherly/sisterly at times. We wound each other up, and we had great fun."

'Jessica Chastain brings a huge amount of variety," says Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. 'Sara wasn't a character she'd played before, but she gave her all. She wanted to do the training; she wanted to be ready. She came to set knowing those routines, and they are really out there. She spins, kicks and twists her blades, and she loved it. We had a great time filming those scenes together."

For Jessica Chastain, having a director open enough to listen was essential. 'I worried if you're doing a big fantasy film, whether you might lose some of your own reality in it. Reality is the most important thing when I approach a character. But Cedric Nicolas-Troyan listened and inspired me, and he would say something that led my character in a new direction. When I asked a question he'd listen and build on that."

As Theron made such a terrifying impression on the world with her rendition of Queen Ravenna in the first chapter, it was just as challenging to find an actress capable of playing her sister, Freya, who is quickly revealed to be Eric's lifetime antagonist. Producers alighted on Emily Blunt, who responded immediately to the material.

'Freya's an interesting villain because who you meet at the beginning of the film is not who she becomes," Emily Blunt offers. 'When you meet her, she's this incredibly kind person. She's a young girl who's in love with the wrong guy, but then she loses her child and becomes so grief-stricken and hardened by the loss that she discovers her power. Her hair turns white, and she goes completely pale and discovers an ability to freeze things."

After such a betrayal, Freya determines that love must be a wicked and villainous thing, and she sets out to eradicate it from the world, kidnapping children from their parents and raising them to believe that love is dangerous. 'I think she truly believes she's doing the right thing," Emily Blunt reflects. 'She thinks she's saving these children by putting them into her child army and raising them without love. She's saving them from ever going through the devastation of what she went through."

Confirms Cedric Nicolas-Troyan: 'She's not a villain because she wants power or she wants to dominate. She's more complex because she thinks she's saving these kids by turning them into great warriors. She doesn't realise how cruel that is…that she's ripping them away from everything they know and love."

Providing a bit of levity, the actress laughs. 'Freya's probably the most frightening mother figure you could ever want for your child."

Although Emily Blunt is no stranger to action adventure, having blown audiences away in such films as Edge of Tomorrow, she was enticed by the notion of playing a character she hadn't before explored. 'The writing was so good, and Freya was an emotionally complex villain," she enthuses. 'I knew that the part was something I could bite into and that would stretch me."

Chris Hemsworth elucidates that Freya is very different from her sister:

'Ravenna is so menacing and unforgiving in her attitude. There wasn't an ounce of humanity in her. What Emily Blunt has done with Freya is show that there's a remnant of a heart in there, although she's trying desperately to ignore it. She's constantly pushing back the warmth and trying to buy into the propaganda her sister has been selling her."

In a way, her remnant humanity makes her even more threatening. Explains Chris Hemsworth: 'It's menacing in a totally different sense. It's manipulative, because Freya can be so kind to you one moment, and then in the next she can just snap."

Charlize Theron's Ravenna proved such a popular villain in the first film that even though we believed she died, the notion of incorporating her into this picture was one upon which everyone agreed. None more so than Theron herself, who had relished her time as the Evil Queen. 'What I like about Ravenna is that she's a bit of an enigma," Theron notes. 'She's definitely being explored more as we go, but she's somebody who has come from circumstances where this life, and this way of treating people, would have been just normal. She wasn't given much choice. She's her own worst enemy."

Charlize Theron admits that she loves Ravenna's broken nature, noting: 'She's a person functioning with a tremendous amount of fear at her core."

Bringing her back was less challenging than it might have seemed initially, because the story covers a period before the events of Snow White and the Huntsman, as well as after. 'The writers came up with a brilliant idea for bringing her back," says Charlize Theron. 'So it was immediately interesting to me."

'In this film, Ravenna is actually two different characters," notes Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. 'We see her before the events of the first movie and we see her evil, but it's not without a human side. We're getting a more relatable Ravenna. In the second part of the movie, she comes back after the events of the first film. She's a different character altogether, because she's died and yet the soul and the darkness and the magic of Ravenna remain."

Chris Hemsworth confirms Theron's comments that it was easy to get back into the groove together. 'We built that relationship on the first film, so we were able to pick it right back up where we left off. She was so excited to come back and have another crack at it."

'Charlize Theron is so deliciously evil in these movies," compliments Joe Roth. 'So by telling a story that's partially set before the first, she can not only be deliciously evil to people she doesn't know, but deliciously evil to people in her family too."

'It's been heaven to be around Charlize Theron," enthuses Emily Blunt. 'She's a powerhouse, and an inspiring actor to breathe the same air as. We've had a laugh and the sisterly bond we've managed to achieve off-set has certainly translated onto camera."

The casting of these three core female roles demonstrates the emphasis the filmmakers placed on writing strong, complex characters across the board, especially for women. 'One of the main reasons I wanted to do the film, in addition to working with Chris Hemsworth, was that it showcased incredible parts for women," says Jessica Chastain, who has long campaigned for more inclusive cinema. 'I knew Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt were attached when I got the script, and I'm tired of being the only woman on a set. Stories, even fantasy like this, should represent our world, and I was really, really pleased with the fabulous roles for women that were written into this film."

'I've never made a movie with two powerhouses like Jessica Charstain and Emily Blunt," says Charlize Theron. 'The two of them kept me on my toes and made the whole experience so memorable. It's always nice when you can come across material where women are being written in a manner that feels truthful. I think cinema had lost touch with those films where women could carry great stories, and be as complex and conflicted as the guys. What's fantastic is that in the last decade that's slowly coming back around and people are being emotionally affected by it."

Agrees Cedric Nicolas-Troyan: 'This is a female-driven film, even more than the first one. The great thing about Jessica Chastain's character is she doesn't need saving by the Huntsman. They can be there for one another and kick ass together, but they're as strong as each other…and stronger together."

Comic Relief: Meet the Dwarves

Among the most popular characters re-introduced from Snow White and the Huntsman were the seven dwarves, played by accomplished actors including Ray Winstone, Ian McShane and the late Bob Hoskins. They proved to be extremely popular, and it was a conscious decision to bring them deeper into this story…and learn more about what makes a dwarf tick.

The dwarves' appearance in the next chapter was all but guaranteed, and producers brought back Nick Frost, who had played the beloved Nion in the original movie. 'It's different from a dwarf point of view," explains Nick Frost, 'because we're in it straight away this time."

Outgoing and comedic, and Beith's right-hand man in the first film, Nion is a fervent dwarf supremacist who has long distrusted Eric and his motives. Still, with the promise of treasures at hand, he sets out alongside Eric to deliver the Magic Mirror to the Forbidden Forest.

A new dwarf is introduced in the form of Rob Brydon, who plays Gryff. While Nion has softened up over the past few years, the same can't be said of his traveling companion, Gryff. Grouchy, crude, duplicitous and greedy, Gryff is trying his best to give dwarves a bad name.

Both storied comic actors in Britain, Brydon and Frost form an easy double-act and help add to the film's increased lightness of tone. 'It's been so much fun to work with Rob and Nick," says Chris Hemsworth. 'They have a great sense of humor and brought a whole different energy to the set. It also brought a different energy out of my character, and there was a great back-and-forth banter we had.

'You're always playing catch-up with them," adds Chris Hemsworth, modestly. 'I feel like the joke lands with me a minute or two after it's come from them"they move at such a pace."

Brydon, known for many comedic roles in and outside of the U.K., discusses his experience on set: 'I was surprised from the start with how light Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain kept it, actually. There was so much laughter around. It's important on a film like this, because there's a lot of waiting while things get ready. You have to keep things light."

Frost offers that he'd loved his role in the first film…well once he'd got used to the hours of make-up required to transform him into a dwarf. Returning to the character afforded the actor an opportunity to revisit an old friend. 'He's a simple dwarf, and he doesn't have much of an agenda," Nick Frost explains. 'He's about friends and family, and he wants to find love; but he doesn't think a lot, which is probably good for him."

Bringing not only laughter to the story, the dwarves' flirtation and double-dealing matches those of their human counterparts. Nick Frost continues: 'In Winter's War, you learn that dwarves are solitary creatures. They tend to stay in same-sex packs. But when he meets Doreena, who is played by Alexandra Roach, he falls in love with her. It's a feeling he's never had before and it's so all-encompassing, but he's not afraid of it."

Brydon's Gryff is cut from different cloth. 'The relationship between Nion and Gryff is an interesting one," the Welsh actor explains. 'Gryff's the elder of the two, and he's equally paternal and fraternal with Nion. They can be competitive, because Gryff is ultimately a coward. He's a lot of bluster and a lot of talk, but quite often we see through his actions that he's scared. Nion, on the other hand, is led by his heart, not his head."

Gryff, too, experiences the pull of attraction when Sheridan Smith's Mrs. Bromwyn enters the fray. When he encounters her, he wonders if he may have just met his double-dealing match. 'Traditionally the relationship between male dwarves and female dwarves is one of hostility and mutual contempt," Brydon explains. 'Sheridan's character [Mrs. Bromwyn] is taken by Eric when she first sees him, but eventually she softens to Gryff."

One of the best trackers in all of the enchanted land, Mrs. Bromwyn has only two interests: treasure and where to find it. Having sworn off male dwarves for a life of gold and adventure, the one creature who's caught her eye is Eric. Her sparring with Gryff could equal a romance for the ages"or could be the death of him.

To that point, one mustn't be fooled by Doreena's sweetness and coy smile. If you cross her, she is just as much the tough dwarf that her partner-in-crime Mrs. Bromwyn is. Enchanted from the moment that she meets Nion, Doreena might just prove that male and female dwarves don't always have to hate each other.

For a newcomer to the series, Brydon had to get to grips with the techniques required to become a dwarf, and he, Smith and Roach all attended 'Dwarf School" on set to make sure their movements were up to scratch. 'There's a lot that goes into making the dwarves work," he explains, 'from state-of-the-art CGI to simple sleight of hand. The physicality of the dwarves came from a teacher, Peter Elliott, who worked on the first film and has a million credits for teaching people movement."

As it was with the male dwarves, it was crucial to the production that they had well-known British actors on the big screen for the parts of the female dwarves. 'When I told my friends I was going to Dwarf School, they wouldn't believe me," laughs Smith. 'Peter is a dwarf master, and he taught us how to walk like dwarves. It's quite hard to stop once you've started doing the dwarf walk. You realise you're getting out of the car at home and still doing a little swagger."

'It was surprisingly hard to get it right," amends Brydon. 'And surprisingly painful. If you change your natural gait just a little bit it starts to hurt your knees."

Smith describes Mrs. Bromwyn as a feisty character. 'She's lived in the woods a long time, and she's very greedy when it comes to money and treasure," the actress explains. 'I've never played a dwarf before, but it's been such fun. We had to come in at about half past three in the morning, and sit in prosthetics while they gave us this big forehead and little nose. And Colleen Atwood designed this amazing outfit for me to wear, which was all corsets and leather, and a tribal skirt. I just felt like a badass."

The actress enjoyed the camaraderie and on-screen dwarfish flirting with Brydon. 'He's so naughty," she laughs. 'In the film, Mrs. Bromwyn is the feisty one and she bullies Gryff a little, but in real life Rob's the bully. I wasn't able to keep a straight face with him. There was never a dull moment when he was on set, and he kept the whole crew going."

Whether they were dwarf or royalty, Huntsmen or traitor, all of the performers appreciated the man captaining their ship. Hemsworth lovingly refers to Nicolas-Troyan as a big kid. 'His energy was infectious. He was constantly exploring, and there was never an ego with him; Cedric was open to everyone's suggestions. Some first-time directors come in feeling they need to have an answer to every question, whereas Cedric is humble and hugely insightful, and you can carry on a real collaboration with him."

'I like having a loose set and a good ambiance," Nicolas-Troyan states. 'If the process is enjoyable and everybody's happy to see each other when they step on set, then it's going to work in the end."

Building the Winter World: Design of the Action Adventure

The Huntsman: Winter's War is much lighter in its tone than the first film and takes us out of the dark woods of the last film and into a world bursting with color, magic, romance, action adventure.

Filled with stunning set pieces, intense fight sequences inspired by ancient martial arts, a forbidden love for the ages and an epic battle of good versus evil, the film gives audiences more of the adventure and sweeping romance they long for.

As Eric and Sara journey into this world that is filled with devious goblins, whimsical fairies and fantastical creatures never before captured on film"and evil Ravenna and good Freya face off"we are shown just how thrillingly magical this universe can be.

The Huntsman: Winter's War was shot at both the U.K.'s Shepperton and Pinewood Studios over the course of 16 weeks, as well as at landmark historical venues Wells Cathedral and Bishop's Palace, in Somerset. Additionally, some of U.K.'s most beautiful green spaces including Windsor Great Park (Bears Rails, South Forest, Manor Hill, Johnson's Pond), Frensham Common, and

the magical woodlands of Stockwood and Puzzlewood were used for settings. These proved to be unique and enchanting places, where the unit explored paths spread over bewildering woodland in and amongst rock formations. This was the perfect place to set the Goblin Forest, where Eric's journey to retrieve the Magic Mirror comes to its exciting apex.

Distinct, yet familiar. Those were the watchwords when it came to defining the look of this chapter. 'Of course, this is different from the first movie, but it's in the same world," explains Nicolas-Troyan. 'Rupert Sanders and I have a very similar sensibility, style-wise, but I was also working with [director of photography] Phedon Papamichael, who brought his own style to the table, and he has been a huge partner."

Joe Roth was impressed by the Icelandic influence to the design, which the director imagined alongside production designer Dominic Watkins, who worked in the same capacity on the first film. For example, where you'd normally have your traditional medieval courtyard, this movie has quite the Nordic influence. 'What Cedric Nicolas-Troyan wanted to do was get out of the forest and into the ice," says Joe Roth. 'We've changed the color palette from the greens that are typically prevalent in these kinds of movies."

Explains supervising art director Frank Walsh: 'The challenge was to put the film into the kind of perspective that had been established on Snow White and the Huntsman, but to create a new world, too. Freya's world is a dominant character in the film, and probably represented the largest elements of the build."

Her style was about betrayal and deceit, Frank Walsh continues. 'She's taken herself away to another world, and Cedric was very keen on design that evoked a feminine quality. Usually when you see castles on screen, there's a dominant male influence."

For Queen Ravenna's home in the beginning of the film, audiences will note a great deal of wood, beautiful detail and craftsmanship that establishes the Great Halls.

Although trademarks of the fairy tale genre, icy worlds needed to have a fresh take with The Huntsman: Winter's War. The challenge became about how to make ice, which often takes on a magical quality in fantasy, somehow threatening. 'You have to be cautious that it doesn't end up looking too beautiful," states Walsh. 'The film is still grounded in reality, so we've used ice in an aggressive way rather than go the Winter Wonderland route."

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's visual effects background was always going to play a huge role in the production design; but to add to the reality and give the actors something from which to work, many of the sets were built by hand. 'When you have a set that's partially practical," explains visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, 'it's a great reference for visual effects. If you've gone completely green-screen, it can be much more challenging for everybody."

'We built the courtyard of the castle up to a level of about 30 feet," states Frank Walsh. 'The actual castle goes for hundreds of feet above that. Collectively, we designed the whole space and then our department figured out what we had to build physically on the backlot. When it went over to visual effects, they had the full brief and a visual reference."

Working with a former visual effects supervisor elevated the experience for Paul Lambert. 'Cedric Nicolas-Troyan knows exactly what he wants, and this film has a little of everything," he says. 'We have CG creatures, huge environment builds and magical effects. It was my first time working with him, and he has such great visual style. He lives, breathes and dreams beautiful imagery."

While Cedric Nicolas-Troyan prefers not to pre-visualize or storyboard character scenes, preparation such as this is essential for action sequences, such as the Goblin King battle. This fight among the Goblins and Eric, Sara and the dwarves was fully pre-visualized as a simple-animatic and played back on set to allow the cast and crew a constructed reference on which to base the action. Explains Paul Lambert: 'It lets us know exactly the kind of shots we need to bring in."

For the actors, having so much of the production design built and so many stunning locations intricately dressed made the experience of shooting the film all the more memorable. Raves Jessica Chastain: 'I love that the sets are spectacular, so that you feel you're in another world or another time. I'm excited to see what Cedric Nicolas-Troyan does with the special effects, and I love what Colleen Atwood has done with the costumes."

Fit for a Queen: Atwood's Costumes

For her part, Colleen Atwood needs little introduction. A three-time Oscar® winner, her costume design credits include Alice in Wonderland, Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha. She doesn't need any prompting to deliver costumes of the highest creativity and construction. Colleen Atwood returns with an extraordinary array of costumes that could only be worn by a tragic Ice Queen such as the good Freya and all-new gorgeous designs worn by her sinister sister, Ravenna. 'If I'd asked Colleen Atwood to step up her game, I'd be in a hospital somewhere," jokes producer Roth. 'She's been Oscar®-nominated 11 times and won three of them. All you need to tell her is that this film has a different palette than the first, and that there'd be an ice theme, and she was off."

Melding together designs that are both modern and period, the designer's aesthetic is unmatched. 'The first thing Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and I talked about was Freya's world," remembers Colleen Atwood. 'He explained the ice theme and the owl theme, and so I took those and worked them into my ideas."

For the actors, wearing Colleen Atwood originals was a treat. 'They are the most beautiful costumes," enthuses Emily Blunt. 'Not only am I playing a queen, but I'm a Snow Queen, so there's so much fun to be had with the materials and Colleen Atwood's attention to detail. She truly is an artist. What was exciting was to look up close at the effects of ice, metal and silver, and see how she's interwoven all of these different materials to create a look that is like nothing you've ever seen."

No stranger to the House of Atwood, Theron relished the ideas that her designer would have for Ravenna this time around. 'There's something about the clothes Colleen Atwood makes that, when you put them on, they change everything about you," lauds Charlize Theron. 'It's impossible not to feel like you're in control of the whole world. The clothes inform the character so much."

Colleen Atwood employed a team whose numbers reached some 120 people"not including additional contractors"to prepare the number of costumes the production demanded. These included cutters, fitters, craftspeople, and a whole room of people who specialized on the Huntsmen's leather armor.

Advances in technology since the first film helped Colleen Atwood when it came to the dwarves' costumes, which had to be constructed in two sizes"for the principal actors and their body doubles. 'The dwarves are close to my heart because of the group of people that make their costumes for me," says Atwood. 'They can take a scrap of fabric and a piece of leather and some thread and create the borders like you see on Nion's costume. Little elements that make it feel tribal."

She explains the technical process for the dwarves' costumes: 'The challenge is always scale, because you're using both a full-scale costume and one that's about two-thirds-scale. They both have the same kind of shoulder measurements. Technically, it's about cheating lengths and widths, but it's certainly been much easier on this film that the last."

Colleen Atwood specified individual traits in each of the characters and based their costumes on those traits. 'With Freya, it was built around the idea of this soft queen behind an icy veneer," she explains. 'She's hidden behind this armored façade; but then, as the story progresses, we see into her internal world."

With Ravenna, it was all about scale. 'She's an operatic character, making her entrance through the mirror, so I did a dress that looked like molten gold on her body. Charlize Theron can wear a costume like that like no other."

Sara, on the other hand, is a warrior, so her costume reflected her active life. 'She came from a place of family, and I felt that was a strong place," Atwood expands. 'I wanted to keep a feminine quality and reflect that in the strength of her costumes."

Her costume also needed to allow Jessica Chastain movement for the film's multiple action sequences. The actress, who had trained in Krav Maga when she worked on The Debt, relished the chance to do even more combat on this film. 'We worked for a few weeks with the stunt team to learn the fights," Jessica Chastain recalls. 'I had so much fun learning, and I love the weapons I was able to use. I used to be a dancer, so it was great to work at the fighting because it felt like choreography"just like doing a dance."

The Huntsman: Winter's War
Release Date: April 7th, 2016