Since becoming a mother, Julia Roberts doesn’t work as much, putting her family first. But when Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell) approached her about playing the wicked queen in his new take on Snow White in Mirror Mirror, she jumped at the chance to work with the director.
After a beloved King vanishes, his ruthless wife (Roberts) seizes control of the kingdom and keeps her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White (Lily Collins), hidden away in the palace. When the princess encounters the visiting Prince Charming (Armie Hammer), the Queen banishes her to the forest, where she is taken in by a band of rebellious dwarfs.
Julia Roberts spoke of her family friendly movie at the press day for the film.
Many of your films have been compared to modern day fairy tales, had you always wanted to do a traditional one?
No, nor did I have any interest in this one really until Tarsem lured me, in his luring way, and looking at the script and realizing that there was really something here. But the one sentence pitch of it on the phone, ‘Hey, they’re doing this Snow White adaptation,’ didn’t grab my attention.
What did Tarsem say to convince you to do the role?
I’m such a fan of Tarsem and so when I heard that it was his movie, his interpretation, I thought, ‘Okay, I’d love to meet him and if I have to go and sit and hear him talk about Snow White for an hour then that’s what we’ll do.’ He had such a great take on it, and he had just a vibrant personality.
I read the script that he had and I was really taken and surprised, and suddenly thought, ‘This is all coming together in this unexpected way.’ And off we went from there.
[Tarsem’s] movies are so visual, original and interesting. I always wondered, how does that work? His fearlessness brought an incredible sense of integrity to the film, which allowed all of the actors to fully realize these characters.
The Grimm story is a few pages long and the Disney film, which has nothing to do with our movie, allows for only limited interpretations of the characters. Tarsem tells the story on a far larger level.
Your character is so bad in this, did you have to look for the wicked inside you?
I’m happy to announce she is not inside me, but without naming names I drew from a couple of people I know better than I wish I did, and found it very fun and helpful.
What is the most evil thing you’ve ever done?
Lied to the press, but it was only one time!
Do you have a favorite fairy tale?
I don’t really. I keep making it up but it’s really all just a lie, and now I feel bad because I don’t want to tell anymore lies.
Have you introduced your children to any fairy tales yet?
They have a lot of fairy tale books. They have such great illustrations, some of the old ones, and with proper parental editing when reading, they’re quite lovely before bed.
Are you going to let your children see this or are they still too young?
I think they are, considering the part that I play. We have a pretty rigid viewing [policy] in our house. We’re more book people. We’ll find our time that will be happy and joyous for us to share [the movie] all together, but it probably isn’t in two weeks.
Can you talk about working with Lily Collins and Armie Hammer?
Lily Collins is impressive as Snow White. She looks exactly like you want Snow White to look. I was completely enchanted by her, because she’s a very young girl and already a pro. She was such a good sport because my character was so awful and vicious to her and she was always very sweet to me.
Armie’s so wonderful, he’s a lovely guy and he really brought a very clever dimension I thought to Prince Charming. He really could have just stood there and talked and it would have been terrific, and he wanted to be really clever about it and put a lot of consideration into it.
I thought he made some great choices and he’s really professional. He always had some little clever thing that he was bringing to it. It made it very entertaining to watch the whole thing unfold.
When you were first establishing yourself in Hollywood were you the receiving end of any evil queen type treatment from actresses who still saw themselves as the fairest of them all?
Yes, but I wouldn’t limit it to just actresses, but I did. It was a good lesson to learn too, to learn how you never ever want to behave like that to another person. There’s value in that.
The evil queen has a reflection that is kind of like her inner conscience telling her what is really going on. Who do you usually sound off against to give you an honest answer, as opposed to the answer you want to hear?
I always want to hear the truth whatever it is, and I’ve always felt that way. I have an amazing family and a great group of friends and that’s what I expect from them and rely on and I think they do the same for me.
It’s also what I look for in a great working relationship, people that will be honest and will be very plain speaking and not beat around the bush, just say, ‘This is what we need and this is what works and this is what doesn’t.’ That’s the best of life right there.