Friday, March 11, 2011


Catherine Hardwicke in Toronto - March 2011
Known commercially as the Most Successful Female Director of all time, Catherine Hardwicke would appear to have a lot - pardon the pun - riding on her re-imagination of The Brothers Grimm classic, Red Riding Hood. After surprisingly opting not to sign-on for the second Film in The Twilight Saga franchise due to the rushed demands of its studio, many are wondering: will Catherine Hardwicke be able to replicate her success without that franchise?

Sitting down to chat with Hardwicke recently during the Toronto stopoff of her promotional tour for Red Riding Hood, the Architect-turned-Production Designer-turned Filmmaker sure had me fooled if there was an inkling of pressure. The effervescent Texas native walked into the room all smiles, apologizing for running behind schedule in one of many interviews she had slated for the day.  "Ooh, that`s cute!", she said as she  admired a Paul Smith-designed Limited Edition bottle of Evian on the table.

Despite Red Riding Hood being Hardwicke`s fifth time directing a Feature Film with critical successes Lords of Dogtown and moreso Thirteen on her Résumé, this is the first project which allowed her to incorporate her talents as an Architect and an Artist into her Filmmaking. "When I first arrived in Hollywood I was so naïve and thought they only wanted creative people.  I thought I could be like Tim Burton and just do whatever I wanted", she  giggles.  Incorporating her artistic vision into the Film wasn`t an easy feat though as  Hardwicke had to draft various images, paintings and drawings and present them to the studio, "Essentially, I had to sell Warner Bros. on their own project", she admits.

One of the greatest challenges to making this Film was working with a non-present Villain - the CGI Wolf. At one point, Hardwicke and her Team had contemplated hiring a trained Wolf for the Film and even went as far as to buy a $69 Costume online, having a Child run around with the Cast reacting. Ultimately, the Director found herself getting right into the role of The Wolf.  "I yelled at the Cast a lot and am sure I scared them!", she recalls after having done hours of research studying Videos of  how Animals behave in situations where they are trapped or caged-in, "I was a ferocious Beast unleashed".

Paranoia is one of themes most central to the Film and Actor Gary Oldman as Father Solomon perhaps says it best with the line, "You don`t know what someone is capable of".  Protagonist Valerie, played by Porcelain-skinned Beauty Amanda Seyfried, sees her world through a paranoid lens and Hardwicke feels in this day and age of feeling watched or deceived on the Internet, such a theme still resonates with audiences.  "Valerie is someone who will fight, even if it`s someone she loves.  She`s tough and through all of this, she`s fiercer and more independent.".  Oldman of course, absolutely steals the show in Red Riding Hood being deliciously villainous and it was revealed that he went directly to Warner Bros. and threw himself right into consideration for the role after having a strong working relationship with the studio in a string of hits like the Batman and Harry Potter franchises.

Red Riding Hood perhaps isn`t so much geared towards Children as many might believe and Hardwicke acknowledges this, taking a traditional tale and increasing the Grit Factor.  The theme of Valerie`s blooming sexuality is examined with sensitivity.  Soon-to-be Heartthrob Shiloh Fernandez who plays Peter, one of Valerie`s potential suitors, is pitted against the aristocratic Henry, played by Max Irons (yes, son of Jeremy).  

Questioning how it is that she brought out the electricity particularly in Fernandez and Seyfried, Hardwicke tells me that it was most important that her Lead Actress, who was cast first, felt something organic.  The Director invited potential choices for the roles of Henry and Peter back to her home in Venice Beach, along with Seyfried, in what she jokes was a The Bachelor-type set-up.  "I also try to make the set as comfortable as possible - everything down to the music played - to make my Actors feel sexy.  You`ve got to make it hot!", she chuckles.  Blush.

Warner Bros.`Red Riding Hood opens in theatres Friday, March 11, 2011 - check back then for a full review.  And you, Mavenati can qualify to win a signed Photo (above) from Catherine Hardwicke herself.  To qualify for the win, tell me in the Comments section the name of the Actor who plays the villainous Father Solomon.  You must enter by April 1, 2011 midnight to qualify.  Good luck! 

(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)

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