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In what’s looking to be a major holiday tentpole for 2012, Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman reportedly has offers out to Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron for lead roles.
The script for “Huntsman” follows the classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but provides more of a context (and slightly alternative one) for the story. The Huntsman in the original tale is ordered to kill Snow White but lets her go, thus he’s key to what happens in the rest of the story. The movie will follow what might have happened has he not just disappeared from the story. In the script, he’s being “haunted” by a white wolf that killed his wife so he’s got a bit of baggage. For much of the film, he is chained to Snow White and they are both being chased by bounty hunters, so that should give you a sense of the comedy/action dynamic of the film. If Depp stars in the project, he will be playing the titular Huntsman named Eric. He serves as a sort of aid to Snow White and teachers her how she can get back at the queen.
Depp is one of the most famous actors on the planet thanks to his involvement in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Additionally, he has been considered one of the best of his generation for quite some time and is still considered as such to this day. However, he fully thrives in his craft only when portraying eccentric characters (his histrionic performance in Alice in Wonderland serves as a grand exception). The character of the Huntsman sounds basic, but if Depp were to consider it, that likely means there’s more to it we don’t know. In a side note, lesser-known but up-and-comer Tom Hardy was offered the role but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with The Dark Knight Rises.
Considering all that Depp has coming out for the next six months or so, conflicts could keep him from this film too. He has a major December release (The Tourist), spring release (Rango) and summer release (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) to promote for the next six months. Depending on the budget and how much visual effects work would be involved, “Huntsman” would likely need to film in summer/fall of next year to meet its December 2012 release slot. Depp currently has rumored attachments to Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, two directors he regularly collaborates with, so choices will need to be made when Depp becomes free next year.
Evan Daugherty’s script earned a spot in Hollywood’s yearly “Black List” of the best unproduced screenplays. Universal won the rights for a whopping $1.5 million in an intense bidding war, so this is a big film to watch out for over the next couple years. The film will be directed by Rupert Sanders, who has no other credits to his name, so Universal clearly is high on this script.
Meanwhile, Theron is rumored to be playing Ravenna, the evil queen who tries to kill Snow White. Information on the character right now is bare, but the Academy Award winner has lots of acting versatility, so she could easily nail the role.
This is shaping up to be an interesting project, even if Depp and/or Theron don’t play these characters. The film is currently set for release on December 21, 2012, which would pit it head-to-head (at the moment) with “The Hobbit, Pt. 1.” If the return to Middle Earth stays pat in that release date, Universal will need someone like Depp to have a chance at competing.