Red Riding Hood - Max Irons and Shiloh Fernandez
Henry (Max Irons) and Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) © 2011 Warner Bros

In the new, updated and totally revised version of Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Amanda Seyfried portrays Valerie, whose sister has been murdered by a local werewolf. Through this traumatic event, she has two suitors vying for her attention, Henry (Max Irons), from one of the wealthiest families in the village, and Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a poor woodcutter she has loved all of her life.

When the townspeople bring in a werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) to find and kill the beast, he only brings more turmoil by telling them that during the day the werewolf becomes human, and could be any one of them, tearing apart the once close-knit village.

Max Irons, the son of Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack, and Shiloh Fernandez spoke of their new venture at the press day for the movie.

This sure isn’t the Red Riding Hood we grew up with – what was your reaction when you first read the script?

Red Riding Hood - Max Irons
Henry (Max Irons) © 2011 Warner Bros

Max Irons: I was excited because when you see the title Red Riding Hood on the script, you think you know it. And then you read it and you see how the writers and Catherine have taken a fairy tale that means so much to people, universally, and they built upon those themes and they built a wonderfully imaginative movie around it.

Shiloh Fernandez: I think that being a film with younger actors I was so attracted to the fact that it was such a thriller and such a whodunit, in a neat way. To take this fairy tale, like Max was saying, that we’re all so familiar with and to extract parts of it and create a whole film around it is something that can’t be beat. And to work with Catherine and Amanda and the whole cast was just a dream come true.

Speaking of Catherine Hardwicke, who seriously knows young actors better than any director out there right now, what was it like for you to work for her?

Max: As an actor you’ve just got to make the scene work as best you can, but Catherine weaves a kind of magic which I don’t understand. I don’t know how she does it, but you just have to trust her and follow her direction and then it seems to work.

Weren’t you on her radar for Twilight?

Red Riding Hood - Max Irons
Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) © 2011 Warner Bros

Shiloh: Yeah, I’m very grateful. I’ve always been a huge fan of her’s and her energy is so infectious and she’s so passionate that you have no choice but to follow her into battle and to trust her leadership and to play with her. She’s totally open to ideas and to trying new things, improv and to doing as many strange things as possible to get the right feel for the scene.

How did you like working with Amanda?

Shiloh: She’s just fun, I just like her as a person and to watch somebody that talented and to be able to play with them, to do this medieval, wild film was thrilling. She’s an incredible actress.

You of course come from pretty good acting stock, was there ever a point where your parents said, ‘Be a lawyer, please don’t do this?’

Red Riding Hood - Max Irons
Henry (Max Irons) and Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) © 2011 Warner Bros

Max: Oh, absolutely. My mom wanted me to be a plumber. She’s a bit of a socialist and she said, ‘Be a plumber, be a carpenter, be anything but an actor.’ And they also warned me of the financial instability, the mental instability, the psychological worries, the jealousy, but then when she saw that I was serious, she said, ‘Go do it.’ And they backed off and the let me do it my way, which is all I can ask for.

What was it like having Gary Oldman on the set?

Shiloh: There’s nothing more intimidating than standing with Gary Oldman and watching him work, he’s fantastic. The great thing is he does make you feel a little bit more comfortable with his humor and his method of getting into a scene is a wonder to watch.

Max: I find myself as a young actor trying to keep below the radar and not do anything wrong. And then Gary comes on the set the first day wearing this big purple tunic and he’s just giving his lines at the top of his voice, singing some of his lines, and you think, ‘There’s a man who’s not afraid to take a couple of risks and to be a bit dangerous,’ and you see that in his performance and I think to embody that idea is good.

Did you guys have a favorite fairy tale growing up?

Red Riding Hood - Shiloh Fernandez
Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) © 2011 Warner Bros

Max: Did you ever see The Little Engine that Could? It was great. It’s very simple, just keep going and you’ll achieve what you want to achieve. Keep on chugging.

Shiloh: I’ve had to rack my brain for this one, I don’t remember being told a lot of them but recently I remembered Rip Van Winkle was a big one for me. I just thought how fun to be able to sleep for 40 years, or however long it is, and to wake up in a new time. Those were all things that appealed to me.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.