It’s clear from the trailers that Snow White and the Huntsman (out June 1) will be a much darker take on the traditional fairytale, with Kristen Stewart as the titular princess who trains with a fearsome huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to wrest her kingdom back from the bloodthirsty Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Among these archetypes is a reimagined version of Prince Charming: William, the orphaned son of a duke whose love for Snow White and need to regain his land spurs him on to join the war.
We got to speak with actor Sam Claflin about this much darker take on the typically sweet, somewhat ineffectual Prince Charming: He trained as much as the other actors, learning how to shoot arrows, ride horses, and fight in full-body armor. But among the intensive training, he also developed several friendships on set. The most interesting development was that he and Chris Hemsworth became buddies. Seeing as our society loves to fabricate love triangles in movies — and actor rivalries off-camera — you might expect that the two men avoided one another. Instead, it’s quite the opposite:
“There was a fair bit of interaction; there was a fair few scenes which maybe didn’t make the final cut. I got to know Chris very, very well. I think he’s done an absolute diamond job of it, really. You can’t imagine anyone else playing that part; he was born to play it. He’s very down-to-earth and has a great sense of humor. There’s a definite bromance going there.”
From reading his interview with Teen.com from last year, I know that poor Sam had a couple of falls while shooting, so I asked him to share any fun anecdotes from the set. This question is hit-or-miss with actors: Often you get a lame story that isn’t worth printing, but Sam came through with a self-deprecating tale that had me laughing and that clearly showed how he and Chris had bonded:
“For me, the horse riding was a big challenge. There was a particular day that Chris and I both had to storm into the castle grounds and dismount our horses while they were still moving. I’d never dismounted a horse that was still moving without someone helping me; I was top-to-toe in armor, as well. It called for me to swing my leg over the horse’s head and just hop off, to do it very gallantly and glamorously like a Hollywood star. I, the klutz, basically swung my leg over; the leg that was meant to just drop out, got caught in the stirrup and then the horse carried on running.
“My bum hit the floor; luckily the metal armor broke my fall, but basically because it was so restricting, I couldn’t then get myself back up. So I was flailing around like a little turtle on his shell, to which [director Rupert Sanders] was just shouting, ‘Carry on, keep going!’ Chris then had to literally lift me up, and then he starts listing over… It was like Laurel and Hardy in a silent movie gone wrong.”
Sam pointed out that even though both their characters are in love with Snow, the movie’s central conflict isn’t about her choosing a guy, but rather winning back her kingdom. The love triangle became “a subplot”; not surprising, since in his last big role in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Sam played the lovelorn Phillip. He worked with Sanders to ensure that William wasn’t anchoring the plot of Snow White in a similar way.
In addition to working alongside these hot young stars, Sam was reunited with his mentor Ian McShane, who played Blackbeard in Pirates and who appears in Snow White as Beith, the dwarves’ leader. Sam revealed that he owes his Hollywood career to the Deadwood star:
“Three winters in a row I’ve worked with him; without Ian, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I had. My first job I did was with him, in Pillars of the Earth. Then a year later, we both got involved with Pirates of the Caribbean. I think they asked his opinion, what he thought about me as an actor and a person, and he very kindly put in a good word. He really has taken me under his wing and looks out for me, calls me ‘darling.’ It’s a good bromance to have—he’s like my film father.”
Klutzy anecdotes aside, Sam is glad that he’s taken away these bruises and skills for future roles. Referencing the rigorous horse riding and archery training, he said, “These are things where I still wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I’ve homed in on those skills… When I get offered the part of Robin Hood, I will be fine.”