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Red Riding Hood – Amanda Seyfried on navigating herself through young adult life

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Red Riding Hood - Amanda Seyfried
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) in the woods © 2011 Warner Bros

Amanda Seyfried has quite an eclectic career going for her, from starring opposite Meryl Streep in the musical Mamma Mia!, to doing the romantic comedy Letters to Juliet with Vanessa Redgrave, to playing opposite Julianne Moore in the erotic thriller Chloe.

In her new movie Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, she portrays Valerie, who lives in the village of Daggerhorn, where the inhabitance has an uneasy truce with the werewolf, who prowls at every full moon. But under a blood red moon, the wolf changes the stakes by taking the life of a human, Valerie’s sister.

Until this terrible incident, Valerie was planning on eloping with the man she loves, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), because her parents had arranged a marriage for her with Henry (Max Irons), the son of the town’s wealthiest family. In an attempt to capture and kill the predator, the townspeople bring in famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman).

Amanda spoke of the movie and her iconic role at the press day for the film.

What was your initial reaction when Catherine gave you this script?

Red Riding Hood - Amanda Seyfried
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) © 2011 Warner Bros

I resisted a little bit at the beginning because I thought, first of all the responsibility of playing such an iconic character is stressful, and then how is this going to work, what’s the script going to be like? What are they going to do with all of these elements?

They took away some parts of the fairy tale to make it as grounded as they could, adding a supernatural element into a movie. And this is more for young adults, so we had to add all these elements to it.

I read the script and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have no idea who the wolf is, this is genius.’ And then I met with Catherine and she had all these visuals, these drawings, photos and videos.

How would you define your character?

I separated it from the usual damsel-in-distress, which is in most fairy tales. [Valerie] is someone who is not in distress at all. She’s this young, strong female that’s realizing her sexuality and trying to navigate herself through her young adult life in this medieval village. So I thought that’s how I wanted to start playing it. I like playing women who have no fear. Especially in these circumstances she is pretty brave.

What was your first reaction when you saw that beautiful cape?

Red Riding Hood - Amanda Seyfried
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) and the beautiful red cape © 2011 Warner Bros

There are so many different colors and things going on in that cape. It was worked on for months. It was kind of a big deal when the cape came onto the set, because it’s its own character, because it’s the most iconic piece of the story.

Why do you think young people like working with Catherine Hardwicke so much?

I think that she’s a youngster herself in many ways. Her spirit is young. The essence of her is unmatched; she walks around with a backpack, in sneakers. She just has this youthful vibe, she’s full of energy and life and passion and she wants to inspire young audiences to be in love and connect with the sexual part of themselves and figure out who they are. She’s almost like a teacher. I think that’s amazing.

What was it like working with Gary Oldman?

He’s the funniest person I’ve ever worked with. We were doing a lot of action stuff and he was ridiculous, pretending that there was a wolf in front of us, and him yelling at it with a sword. It was ludicrous at times. He was wearing a fake beard and mustache and he couldn’t laugh correctly because he had it on, so one of my favorite memories is watching him break out in a laugh, it warmed me.

It was tiring, but the fact is we always managed to have fun no matter how hot it got or how frustrating it got or how much energy we needed that we didn’t have at that time of night..

There are a lot of young ladies out there that are going to be extremely jealous of you having Shiloh and Max fighting over you.

Red Riding Hood - Amanda Seyfried
Roxanne (Shauna Kain) and Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) © 2011 Warner Bros

I got to make out with Max during auditions and I got to make out with Shiloh a lot throughout the movie. It’s my job, and I’m very grateful, because they’re very good looking guys. They also happen to be very sensitive, sweet, kind and caring.

Why have you let your music slip? Will you be putting out a CD?

Tonight I’ll be in a recording studio. I’m recording that song by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, (sings) ‘Hey there Little Red Riding Hood,’ but it’s a little riff on it. I’m doing it for fun, it may be used in the DVD and may be put on the soundtrack and may be put on the internet. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with it, but I always find a way to incorporate my singing.

Do you think it’s important to update fairy tales for modern audiences?

Yeah, you can always do a coming-of-age thing with it, because it’s always about this young damsel dealing with these crazy circumstances and learning lessons along the way. And the lessons are pretty big and obvious.

I think it’s a good idea that people are bringing them to the big screen and I think the reason we all know these fairy tales, no matter how old we are or where we’re from, is because there is just something about them that’s like a dream-like world, and we have such incredible imaginations as kids and we connect with these things.