A live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, “Cinderella” brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually-dazzling spectacle for a whole new generation.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of the stars, Lily James and Richard Madden as well as Director Kenneth Branagh. After screening the film, I had a few burning questions that I am happy to say I was able to get answered. Hopefully you find them as enlightening as I did!
Lily James — Cinderella
Q: What was it like to bring such an iconic character to life?
Lily: Terrifying. When I got the part I was completely overwhelmed, but i couldn’t be more excited, and that very quickly turned into fear and pressure because has an idea in their mind of who Cinderella is but luckily our Director (Kenneth Branagh) had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do and how he wanted her to be portrayed.
Q: There are a lot of moments where Cinderella is speaking to animals. What was done on the set to help that make believable for you?
Lily: That varied. In my screen test I was given real mice to talk to! During the shoot crew members held mini tennis balls on sticks and would make squeaky mice sounds. All the ducks, geese, and my horse whose name was Pinnochio, became very key to building my character.
Q: What was your favorite moment from the movie?
Lily: When Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest. That was the first scene we shot and I barely knew Richard. So I think Ken wanted to capture that nervous energy energy of two young human beings meeting for the first time.
Richard Madden — The Prince
Q:What was it like to play the Prince?
Richard: I think that in the cartoon film he’s really pretty one-dimensional. You don’t even get to know his name. So it was nice to kind of flesh him and to kind of parallel Cinderella who is a daughter and housemaid, we see this prince as a Son, Solider, and also a friend.
Q: Lily mentioned that her favorite moment in the film was when Cinderella and the Prince meet for the first time. What are your thoughts on filming that scene?
Richard: Terror! What was a bit poetic about it was that there were so many parallels between the characters we were portraying and the action of that scene. For instance, Lily couldn’t really ride a horse at that point. So I was spending time calming her horse down very much like the Prince would actually do. So all of that nervous energy fed into the scene much nicely.
Q: How did your experience on Game of Thrones prepare you for this role?
Richard: I knew how to ride a horse! Also, to play a young man with a lot of responsibility that he didn’t ask for is something very similar to Rob Stark.
Kenneth Branagh — Director
Q: What appealed to you about Directing Cinderella
Kenneth: It was an exciting surprise to get the call to direct. I liked that it was a story of women and was surprised by how emotional it was. I thought there was something significant we could do with the central character while still staying true to the classic where pumpkins and mice transform into carriages and horses.
Q: Cate Blanchett’s performance as Lady Tremaine is quite different than her cartoon counterpart. Can you talk a little bit about how the two of you went about developing the character?
Kenneth: The idea was to come in full-blooded with every aspect of this film and Lady Tremaine was not exception. From the moment Cate enters wearing that enormous hat and fantastic costume silhouette, all designed by Sandy Powell, into addition to a cat on a leash, she seized the chance to be the movies villainess and just performs it with relish. Also the chance to see her backstory that Screenwriter Chris Weitz provides be embodied with her sense of loss and pain and is multi-dimensional in the hands of a terrific actress such as Cate. She approached the character having this fascination with the idea of ‘cruelty between girls’ which I think does a remarkably good job at exploring.
Q: What did feel like to be able to breathe fresh air into this script and story?
Kenneth: I think the Disney company, with ‘Frozen’ and ‘Maleficent,’ have been really taking a fresh look at what they’re doing. So with Cinderella and other projects they’re committed to taking these classic into the live-action realm with a strong sense of reinvention and creating something that is new and innovative.
BONUS: Frozen Fever — Director, Chris Buck and Producer Peter Del Vechio
- All of the Frozen characters are back! Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf (plus one other surprise appearance)
- There’s a new song called “Making Today A Perfect Day”
- It took 7 months to produce the short from start to finish.
- The Follow-the-String idea came from a friend of Chris who later used the idea to hide his children’s easter baskets.
- The little snowmen are called “Snowgies”
CINDERELLA opens in theaters everywhere on March 13th!