The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The story before Snow White.

Emily as: Freya
Genre(s): Action | Adventure
Written by: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Other Cast: Jessica Chastain, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Production Budget: $115m
Total Worldwide Gross: $164.6m
Filming Locations: Surrey, England, UK and Somerset, England, UK

Discover the story that came before Snow White in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Chris Hemsworth (Thor and Avengers series) and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus) return to their roles from Snow White and the Huntsman, joined by Emily Blunt (Sicario, Into the Woods) and Jessica Chastain (The Martian, Zero Dark Thirty).

Theron stars as evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Blunt) with an unforgivable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. Retreating to a kingdom far to the north, Freya raises an army of Huntsmen as her protectors, with the only rule that no two of them should ever fall in love.

As a war for domination escalates between the two queens, the hero standing between good and evil is Freya’s most elite Huntsman, Eric (Hemsworth). Alongside fellow warrior Sara (Chastain)—the only woman who has ever captured his heart—Eric must help Freya vanquish her sister… or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity.

Production Info

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 all used for settings.

The runic inscription briefly seen on the mirror in the first trailer reads, “I see,” while the glimpse seen in the second trailer reads, “…is power.”

Acts as both a prequel and sequel as it takes place before and after Snow White and the Huntsman, and details how The Huntsman became Huntsman and Ravenna’s rise to power.

Universal’s director short list for this film consisted of Frank Darabont, Gavin O’Connor, and Andrés Muschietti. Darabont eventually signed on to the project, but decided against directing during pre-production. He did, however, initially remain on board as co-writer, before later being replaced entirely. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who worked as visual effects supervisor and second unit director on Snow White and the Huntsman, was then hired to be the film’s director, with Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin collaborating on the screenplay.

Character Quotes

  • You know much, Ravenna. But you do not know all.

    Love is a lie. It is a trick played by the cruel on the foolish and the weak. Cast it from your mind. Never let it render you frail of mind or of will, because in my kingdom, there is but one law. Do not love. It’s a sin, and I’ll not forgive it.

    Let’s hear no more of family and love. Those illusions are beneath you. I have freed you from them. And in exchange for this precious gift, I ask only one thing, your loyalty. You will train. You will harden. You will become my elite, my Huntsman. And nothing will ever, ever destroy you.

    Yes, I know this story. The girl does in secret to meet her one true love. I wonder how it ends this time. I gave you both everything. And in return you betray me. For love.

    Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

    You see, you said it yourself, you’re something between this world and the Mirror. I summoned you out. Now you are bound to me!

    Ravenna: Learn from loss, Freya, and your day will come. Your possibilities will be endless once the magic awakens in your heart.
    Freya: It won’t. We both know it won’t. I’m not like you.

    Sara: Please, my queen, let us go.
    Freya: Do not beg me! It is weak. You are weak. Do you want to leave? [Sara and Eric nod] Very well. Go to each other. If you can. And I’ll let you go. Shouldn’t be too hard. Love conquers all. So I’ve heard.

    Freya: Eric. My Eric. Your queen has missed you.
    Eric: You’re not my queen, Freya.
    Freya: But I’m forever your queen.

    Freya: Oh, what are these? Dwarves. They’re just like children.
    Bromwyn: We’re mighty far from children, Bitch Queen.
    Freya: Adorable. Bring me the Mirror.
    Doreena: You’ll have to kill me first!
    Freya: No, I won’t.

    Eric: Harden your heart, Queen of Winter. Bury the world in a tomb of ice. It matters not. Love will endure.
    Freya: Yes, perhaps you’re right. Shall we find out? [Whispers to Sara] Kill him.

  • Quoting: Emily Blunt

    On her character: Freya is emotionally so unhinged by what happened to her and what happened to her child that there’s a certain madness to the character, and you start to see her unravel throughout the course of the film, which has been so much fun to play.

    On her character: Freya’s an interesting villain because who you meet at the beginning of the film is not who she becomes. 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.

    On Freya’s powers: It’s a very kinetic sort of power. She has to be touching things or touching the floor or feet to the floor. This is not the freezing-power thing we’ve seen before, where you kind of blast people with your hand. It’s actually quite forceful and strong and connected to the earth.

    On Freya’s motivations: I think she truly believes she’s doing the right thing. 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.

    On the challenges of the shoot: The biggest challenge filming was wearing the enormous, silver-braided leather cloak.

    On her attraction to the role: The writing was so good, and Freya was an emotionally complex villain. I knew that the part was something I could bite into and that would stretch me.

    On the wardrobe: They are the most beautiful costumes. 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’s [Atwood, Costume Designer] 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.

    On working with Charlize Theron: It’s been heaven to be around Charlize. 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.

    On working with Cedric Nicolas-Troyan: He really loves actors, so you’re working in an environment that is so emboldening. He loves to laugh. It’s just this amazing childlike enthusiasm for every day.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Co-star Charlize Theron: I’ve never made a movie with two powerhouses like Jessica and Emily. 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.

    Co-star Charlize Theron: Charlize Theron: I got to do most of my stuff with Emily. I’ve basically become a single white female. I just am completely obsessed with her.

    Co-star Chris Hemsworth: Ravenna is so menacing and unforgiving in her attitude. There wasn’t an ounce of humanity in her. What Emily 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.

    Critical Response

    Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist: It’s an odd structure for a film like this, with essentially a half-hour prologue leading into an actual story. But for a while, it feels like this particular act of universe expansion might be worthwhile, mostly thanks to Blunt’s performance. The temptation would have been for the actress to come and match Theron’s scenery-chewing (which the latter doubles down on in her small handful of scenes here), but Blunt, as ever, makes fascinating choices and finds a way to give the film’s Frozen meets Game Of Thrones narrative (in the early stages) an emotional punch.

    Guy Lodge, Variety: Opting not to camp things up — at least minimally so, relative to Theron’s gilded bitchery, is Blunt, who maintains a shrill, brittle sense of vulnerability in Freya even as she crosses over to the dark side, though the film is considerably less interested in such character detailing than in giving her the glitziest brand of digital sorcery money can buy.