Mirror, Mirror: Julia Roberts–The Queen

Mirror, Mirror by Tarsem Singh opens March 30, 2012

The Queen: Julia Roberts



As Singh and Goldmann refined the story of Mirror Mirror, a character that traditionally lurks in the background began to assert herself front and center as a villain with complex motivations. “In the time-honored version of the story, the Queen’s motivation is vanity,” says Singh. “In our film, it’s more about power. She wants to control the kingdom and her beauty is the means to that end.”



Crafty, vain and utterly amoral, the Queen could easily have become a stock villainess, but Singh had a more subtle idea, and made a casting choice that defied conventional wisdom. To play the epitome of evil, he wanted an actress who represents exactly the opposite to most moviegoers. “I saw the Queen as someone who is wicked, dark and malicious but also irresistibly charming,” says the director. “Julia Roberts is so intensely charismatic that she was able to do that fairly easily.”



Roberts puts her trademark magnetism to use as an unscrupulous enchantress with designs on a wealthy and handsome younger man and unbounded animosity toward her orphaned ward. “She was our first and only choice for this role,” says Goldmann. “Her laugh and smile have made her an icon. Here, those same attributes become an aspect of her evil side. It’s fun to see her image turned upside down.”


Playing against type, Roberts brings a new dimension to the role.  “Who better to play the evil queen than America’s Sweetheart?” says producer Kevin Misher. “To ask someone with a larger-than-life persona like Julia Roberts to personify one of the classic villainesses in fairy-tale history was a great opportunity for something fresh and innovative.”



Already familiar with Singh’s work, Roberts was instantly intrigued. “His movies are so visual and original and interesting,” she says. “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.”



Roberts says the multidimensional aspect of her character was another incentive to take on the role. “There’s a dual personality component that was really intriguing,” the Oscar-winning actress explains. We see the Queen as she appears in everyday life and then, of course, as the reflection of the Queen in the mirror. The Mirror Queen is calmer and more collected. She possesses the power and confidence that the Queen herself struggles to maintain.”


At heart, the film remains a coming-of-age story of a young woman who faces many challenges. As Roberts puts it, “The Queen is just the conflict. 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.”