Red Riding Hood: Hardwicke’s Version, Starring Amanda Seyfried

The fable horror feature, Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine (Twilight) Hardwicke and starring Amanda Seyfried, will be released by Warner on March 11.

Hardwicke says that Amanda Seyfried immediately came to mind in casting the part of Valerie. “From the first time I saw Amanda, I knew she was something special,” the director affirms. “She had everything we needed for the character, especially because Valerie is not a classic damsel in distress. Amanda is tough, she’s sexy, she’s funny, she’s vulnerable—she has it all. And the way she looks is straight out of a fairy tale. She has an ethereal quality, with the most amazing eyes that just draw you in.”

In turn, Seyfried says that this new take on an old fairy tale is what drew her in. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t read Red Riding Hood growing up, so it was cool to take a story we all know and have some fun with it. The thriller aspect was exciting to me, and the medieval setting made it feel gothic and added to the romance.”

Valerie is, at once, at the apex of the film’s romantic triangle and also directly connected to the mystery of the werewolf. When it becomes apparent that the beast is someone close to her, Valerie is given reason to question everyone in her life. “As the story unfolds, she is trying to figure out who it could be, based on the signs she’s been given,” Seyfried explains. “It’s terrifying for her because, at different points, she has cause to suspect everybody.”

Hardwicke adds, “Paranoia starts to creep in as Valerie starts seeing little details she hadn’t noticed before, and now they are taking on new meaning. Her entire life she has seen her family and friends in one light, and suddenly things have shifted, causing shadows of doubt.”

It isn’t long before those shadows fall on the two very dissimilar young men vying for Valerie’s heart, Peter and Henry, played by newcomers Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons, respectively.

Fernandez relates, “Peter is a woodcutter, who is also Valerie’s boyfriend. They have to be secretive about their relationship because he’s a poor orphan and something of an outsider. At the start of the film, he discovers that she has been betrothed to Henry, so Peter asks Valerie to run away with him. He wants to show her the world she’s never seen—the city, the ocean…anything, as long as they can be together. But before they can go tragedy strikes. They find out Valerie’s sister, Lucie, has been murdered by the werewolf.”

We also learn that Lucie had been in love with Henry, but he only has eyes for Valerie. Irons notes, “Henry is the town blacksmith and the son of the wealthiest family in town. He can’t understand how Valerie could have her heart set on Peter because Henry honestly believes he is the better choice in terms of the life he can offer her.”

“It’s that age-old romantic dilemma: should she make the safe choice, who, in this case, also happens to be dashingly handsome, or the one who seems a bit dangerous but is sexy and exciting? I think any young woman would dream of having this choice, especially if it came in the form of Shiloh and Max,” Hardwicke laughs.

”Shiloh has so much heart and soul, and had great chemistry with Amanda,” the director continues. “He also brought some mystery to his character that leads you to wonder what might be going on beneath the surface.”

Killoran adds, “Max has this wonderfully engaging presence about him. What I loved about his performance is that everything he does comes from a place of strength and honor, but he lets you know that Henry could have a dark side, too. In casting these roles, we wanted to make it so Valerie’s decision isn’t an obvious one; it needed to be a hard choice between two equally wonderful but different men, who are both worthy.”

Coming from different perspectives, Valerie’s parents, Suzette and Cesaire, have conflicting views on whether it will be Peter or Henry who can make their daughter happy in the long run.

Virginia Madsen, who plays Suzette, offers, “Suzette believes the only way for her daughter to have a better life is to marry the rich boy, Henry, who also happens to be very nice. She thinks Valerie deserves better than the poor woodcutter, the bad boy. That’s just lust and it will never last. Then the murder of her elder daughter, Lucie, threatens to reveal secrets that make her even more protective of her one remaining child. Bottom line, Suzette doesn’t want Valerie to end up like her—married to a woodcutter, who is also a drunken fool.”

Cast as Cesaire, Billy Burke admits that his character “is a man who likes to tip a few back, but his daughter loves him and forgives his faults. Maybe her attraction to Peter is partly due to the old cliché that girls tend to be attracted to men who remind them of their fathers.

Cesaire is a woodcutter himself, so he likes Peter and considers him a fine suitor for his daughter. That’s only part of the chasm that has developed with his wife over the years, which is probably due to his drinking. But Cesaire doesn’t see how that is hurting anyone, including himself.”

The family member with whom Valerie is closest is her grandmother. “They share a great bond,” confirms Seyfried. “They’ve always connected on a level beyond what Valerie has with her parents. Valerie is really inspired by how independent her grandmother is.”

In “Red Riding Hood,” Grandmother, played by Julie Christie, is decidedly not the image of the character in the classic story. Hardwicke emphasizes, “One of the first things I said was there was no way our Grandmother would be a craggy, old crone. She’s very bohemian—wearing long dreadlocks, she lives outside of the main village, deep in the woods, and there is an air of mystery surrounding her.

”We were thrilled when we got Julie Christie for the role,” she continues. “She’s so amazing and so beautiful—she took my breath away. And Julie appreciated that her character was not going to be some stuffy old grandmother.”

”She’s a non-conformist,” says Christie of her character’s eclectic lifestyle. “She’s an artist and an herbalist and something of a healer. She is very wise and understanding and has been a kind of protector to Valerie, who has always been able to trust her grandmother with her innermost secrets.”

After the werewolf strikes within her own family, Valerie runs to her grandmother’s house, even as the men of the village, thirsty for revenge, band together to track down and kill the beast. Though their hunt takes a terrible toll, the men return believing they have been triumphant. Meanwhile, the village priest, Father Auguste, trusting that he is doing what is best for his flock, has summoned the renowned werewolf hunter Father Solomon to Daggerhorn.

Lukas Haas, who appears as Father Auguste, says, “He is in complete awe of Father Solomon. I believe Father Auguste sincerely wants to do the right thing, but the fact that the wolf has killed again may also have been an excuse for him to call upon his idol. His hero worship may have clouded his judgment, but Auguste soon begins to realize who might pose the gravest danger to his village.”

Gary Oldman took on the role of the over-zealous Father Solomon, whom he describes as “a man possessed. But I don’t think of him as a villain. Rather, he has looked into the abyss and is now absolutely convinced of the righteousness of his mission. He truly believes he is the sword of God…and he has a flair for fashion,” the actor deadpans. “I thought I could have some fun with the role. I was also intrigued that it was a darker twist on what was already a dark tale. As children, stories like Red Riding Hood were probably the first time we were conscious of fear. What lies in wait out there in the woods? In the hands of Catherine Hardwicke, we see it through a different prism.”

”Working with Gary Oldman was a dream come true,” states Hardwicke. “He never ceased to astound me. He is not only a fearless actor, he’s generous, collaborative and hysterically funny. Everybody on the set had mad crushes on both Gary and Julie.”

Father Solomon arrives as the village is about to celebrate the slaughter of the wolf, but Solomon admonishes them that the terror is not over.

Their “kill,” he informs them, is just an ordinary grey wolf, while the werewolf remains very much alive. Then he delivers the chilling reality: the creature, who is human by day, lives among them. It is only under a full moon that one of their trusted neighbors takes the form of the wolf. Worse yet, this is no ordinary moon, but rather a cosmic phenomenon that happens only once every thirteen years when Mars and the moon align—a blood moon. When the red moon hangs in the night sky, the non-lethal bite of the werewolf will turn the victim from prey to predator, from human to werewolf. For the next three days, the villagers’ very souls are at risk.