Red Riding Hood opens in UAE cinemas next weekend, but if you’re expecting a to-the-letter adaptation of the classic folk tale Little Red Riding Hood, you’ll be in for a shock. Despite the obvious link between the two, the upcoming film, from Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, is based only loosely on a tale that first appeared in print in the 14th century. Here, 25-year-old actress Amanda Seyfried talks about donning her red cape to take on the lead role.
Why was the ‘little’ dropped from the film’s title? Little Red Riding Hood was a child, and it can’t be a coming-of-age story if it’s a child, because that’s not what children are dealing with in their life at the time. This is a girl who has a lot of tension and turmoil, and is questioning herself and developing into a young adult.
What attracted you to the project? I actually didn’t read the script before I met with Catherine [Hardwicke], and she had crazy visuals to show me. I thought, how difficult is it to make this old, timeless tale into a full-length movie? And she had these great ideas, so then I met with Leonardo DiCaprio, and that was it.
What helped you decide how to play the character? I think the first direction I had was separated from the usual damsel in distress, and more towards somebody who’s not in distress at all. She’s this young, strong female that’s going through her life and trying to navigate herself through her young adult life in this medieval village. That’s how I wanted to play it. Of course, she’s the heroine in the movie; it centres around her, so she needs to have guts. That was really attractive, because I like playing women that have no fear.
Did you see her as a modern woman 500 years ago? Well, yeah. I mean, we added contemporary elements to it, like a love triangle and the coming-of-age element, which was very contemporary, as well as how she was dealing with her parents and the man she loves and the man she was betrothed to. Catherine knows how to work a good coming-of-age story; she is obviously connected to that youthful essence. She knows how to design that.
Tell us about the iconic ‘What big eyes you have’ moment. We had to use that, and it didn’t seem to fit in any place except for something that was from a dream. I think it works really well because it’s an iconic piece of the narrative. To do it with Julie Christie [who plays Red Riding Hood’s grandmother] and with prosthetics, like big teeth and huge pupils, it was just really cool, the way we did it.
You’re quite jealous in the film when your love interest is dancing with another woman. Does that reflect how you are in real life? I feel like in the movie he’s doing it purposefully, looking at me and being very seductive with this woman. And when it’s purposeful, then I would definitely confront it. Jealousy is what we feel; I think every human feels it. So, yeah, I do get jealous when someone’s trying to provoke it.
Do you act like you’re jealous? No. I usually confront the person immediately, and say, ‘I don’t like that; please stop.’
Does it work? Usually it does. It’s about being honest about your feelings, then not having to deal with any drama.
Which fairy tale resonates with you most? I love postmodern kids’ book Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka.