Mirror Mirror: Snow White by Tarsem Singh

Mirror Mirror, Tarsem Singh’s version of the beloved fairy tale, stars Lily Collins as Snow White and Julia Roberts as the evil Queen. A fresh and funny retelling of the classic fable, the film also stars Armie Hammer as the Prince, Sean Bean as the King, and Nathan Lane as the Queen’s hapless servant, Brighton.




After a beloved King vanishes, his ruthless wife seizes control of the kingdom and keeps her beautiful 18-year-old stepdaughter, Snow White, hidden away in the palace. But when the princess attracts the attention of a charming and wealthy visiting prince, the jealous Queen banishes the girl to a nearby forest.


Taken in by a band of rebellious but kindhearted dwarfs, Snow White blossoms into a brave young woman determined to save her country from the Queen. With the support of her new friends, she roars into action to reclaim her birthright and win back her Prince in this magical adventure comedy that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.


Singh (Immortals, The Cell) directs from a screenplay by Marc Klein and Jason Keller, from a screen story by Melisa Wallack. An innocent young royal, a wicked stepmother, a charming prince and seven little men living in the woods—these are the elements of Singh’s new epic. They may seem familiar, but audiences will be surprised and delighted by new twists the visionary director has brought to an age-old tale in Mirror Mirror.




According to producer Bernie Goldmann, who collaborated with producer Josh Pate and writer Melisa Wallack to develop the concept for Mirror Mirror, they were inspired by a photo depicting a live model as the fairy-tale heroine. “What we set out to do was to make a live action of the classic fairy tale, Snow White, that had the feel, the size and the scope of an animated movie. We realized that it’s a great story that had never been explored narratively in a live-action movie.”




In looking for a director to turn the concept into reality, Goldmann says Tarsem Singh was the obvious choice. “Tarsem was the perfect filmmaker to direct this film,” says Goldmann. “He knows how to enhance a story with color and light and is very comfortable with the kind of scope we wanted for this movie. There’s no one else like him.”




For Singh, who was finishing work on the action epic Immortals for Relativity Media, this project was a chance to tackle something he had never done before: a family-friendly movie that combines action, comedy and intrigue with his signature visual splendor. “This was one of the few projects I was interested in doing,” says Singh. “It’s a totally different energy from my other films and I was deeply interested in updating a classic and eternal story.”




With Singh on board, the script began to take shape as a big-screen spectacle leavened with humor and romance. Singh and Goldmann decided that the best way to start the search for a unique take on the classic tale was by returning to the original story. They discovered a wealth of options. “The story actually has existed for five or six hundred years throughout Europe, in many different countries and different versions,” says Goldmann. “We were able to incorporate what we learned from our research into the concept for our movie.”




Singh explains: “Going back and looking at the original story was a very important process. There are thousands of different variations that have developed since it was first written. These variations provided us with many inspired ideas that were later used in the film.”




In some of the early versions, the dwarfs earn their living as highway robbers. In the words of one of the film’s characters, they “steal from the rich—and keep it.” “We thought that was an interesting thing to go back to,” says Goldmann. “It gives whole other side to their characters. They’ve been marginalized by society and this is their revenge.




“In some of the stories, we also discovered a beast of sorts that lived in the woods and we decided to bring that into our story,” Goldmann continues. “Then we also expanded the role of the King and added a mystery surrounding him.”




In addition to historical incarnations of the Snow White tale, Singh plumbed his own imagination for inspiration. “I knew right away that the bulk of this narrative was going to center on the relationship between the Queen, Snow White and the Prince,” he says.




Goldmann is confident the film will resonate with audiences of all ages and would like to see it take its place beside other big screen adaptations of classic tales. “Hopefully, this is a movie that will play for years as a perennial family favorite and redefine the story of Snow White.”




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.”