The Huntsman stars admit their glamorous costumes didn't allow for much movement when it came to stunt scenes

By Scott Huver
Updated April 13, 2016 05:30 PM
Universal Pictures

Can an action heroine be dressed to the nines and still kick major butt? That was the question facing Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain on the fantasy adventure The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Dressed in costume designer Colleen Atwood’s gorgeous and lavishly detailed fairy-tale wardrobe for the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, the trio of actresses discovered that as eager as they were to take on some hardcore fight scenes, sometimes their fancy frocks and footwear weren’t very cooperative.

“Charlize and I spent our time hobbling around in high heels going, ‘My feet hurt!’ ” said Blunt, who plays the film’s ice-powered snow queen Freya, in an exaggerated Valley Girl-ish whine at a press conference for the film on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “That was like the extent of our actions.”

“‘This dress is heavy!’ ” echoed a chuckling Theron, who reprises the role of the evil queen Ravenna, Freya’s sister, from the earlier film. “The costumes really changed my posture. I would say that definitely came into play. There’s something about a corset that will make you just sit up straight! The cape was, for me, a big one …I had to kind of veer my neck forward, otherwise my hair and my crown would kind of get caught in the neck part of it.”

Blunt admitted that, weighed down by their uber-glam gowns, they left much of the heavy lifting in action sequences to their costar Chastain, who plays a huntswoman with fighting skills on par with her former love Eric (played by returning star Chris Hemsworth). “And Jessica would like come into the makeup bus just pouring with sweat from some awful stunt coordinating.”

Chastain revealed she started to get pretty confident about her fighting prowess after undergoing weeks of pre-shoot stunt training in London, learning to used speed and momentum to make her a genuine match in battle with the much more imposing Hemsworth.

“I thought after a few weeks with a stunt guy, I was like, ‘Oh I got this’ – in my tennies,” said Chastain. “The last week I started training in the shoes that I wear [on screen], which have lifts in them. About four-and-a-half inches. They look like flats, but inside it’s a heel. And that was shocking. All of a sudden, I put the boots on and was like ‘Wow, this is really different.’ ”

Theron remembers a moment where she got slightly irked with director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan when he was trying to help choreograph quick movements in her heavy, awkward garb. “And I was, like, ‘Do you know what I’m wearing? You lost me at fast. Nothing’s going to be fast about this.’ ”

But she was chastened when she saw Chastain’s can-do spirit as she prepped for a big stunt fall. “As I’m bitching and moaning about turning in the scene, I’m looking up at Jessica who’s like ready to jump. She’s like up there, she’s got like barely a harness on. There’s no mat. I’m just like, ‘Oh my God, I need to shut up. Pull it together.’ ”

Nicolas-Troyan says Theron was more of A trouper than she admits, citing the very same fight sequence she thought she couldn’t handle. “Like she said, she can’t turn, but that’s half the truth. Because what you have to realize is like, a lot of those shots, she is actually doing it. The amount of shots in that sequence that are performed by the stunt double are minimal. Every time you see all those [shots], she does it in that dress. That was amazing.”

“I had four crew members holding me up, but I did it myself, guys!” agreed Theron triumphantly. “I was like, ‘Can I get somebody to just hold me right here?’ There was like five guys surrounding me. I was just holding on to them. They’re like, ‘We can’t get Chris in the frame.’ I was like, ‘I don’t care. I can do it now. Let’s do this.’ ”