SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
As the costume, hair, makeup and prosthetics
departments all had to deal with the trials and
tribulations of marrying the images of the principals
with their doubles, so did PETER ELLIOTT. The
established movement director has worked on more
than 50 features including such classics as Gorillas in
the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and Greystoke: The
Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and recent marvels
such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy.
Elliott's challenge on this film was to teach the
principal actors and their respective doubles how to
all match the manner in which they move. To do this
he collaborated with the cast to invent a walk that was
achievable by both actors playing the same role. Then,
each pair had to learn to walk in a manner that was
unique to their particular character.
"I was given three weeks during which we had
intense rehearsals," recalls Elliott. "I started with the
doubles, just to get the generic framework, then took our
principals and worked on walks. People do not realize
how hard it is to change something as integral as the way
you walkâ¦and then make it look and feel completely
natural. It was a tight time frame to get it ready, but we
managed it in the end."
One of the most intrinsic things that the actors
changed for their walks was their
center of gravity. "When we sit
on two legs, our center of gravity
is completely balanced and in the
middle," shares Elliott. "To release
the weight from one leg to take a step,
we lean backwards slightly, which
releases our weight to put the other
leg forward. Our center of gravity is
continually and very minutely going
backwards and forwards."
This was quite different among
the taller and shorter actors. Says
Elliott: "Our doubles had a whole different way of
walking. Their legs are shorter, and they don't have the
same distance our principals do in which to achieve that.
So they change their center of gravity from side to side,
which creates a natural twist in their walk."
It was quite a new experience for our new band of
dwarves. "We had to go to dwarf college," recounts Frost.
"Peter Elliott, who is one of the best movement coaches
in the world, trained us to walk in a particular way for
what seemed like weeks and weeks. There was a joke
amongst the dwarves on set. You'd just hear someone cry
out 'small steps,' which is exactly what Peter shouted at
us constantly for weeks while hitting us with bamboo."
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