Last week I got to sit down with two actors from two very established fantasy franchises to chat about a new one they are hoping to launch. Elijah Wood and Rose Leslie were in town to talk all things The Last Witch Hunter their new film they co-star in alongside Vin Diesel, who is also no stranger to geekdom. It’s a very appropriate discussion considering not only the film’s release on Friday, but Halloween is just around the corner and we discuss their thoughts on all thing Witches and Witchcraft both real and fictional.
So neither of you are strangers to the realm of fantasy what keeps drawing you back?
Elijah Wood: Its always the material based. I don’t even know that I am even looking for fantasy. I think I just react to what material I am fortunate enough to read as an opportunity. It’s literally that, having that response to something that just happens to be in the fantasy realm.
Rose Leslie: And it’s an original piece as well. I think that was something for the both of us, and just the fact that, this world, this alternate reality of constantly dipping in and dipping out, was actually very interesting.
EW: It’s not often that at this budget level, that you read something nowadays that is trying to create a new world and is based on an original mythology. Initially that was a major part of the appeal for sure.
Dolan had so many layers in the film, I don’t want to get into spoilers or anything, but I am sure the layers are part of what drew you to the character.
EW: Totally. Yeah. You can kind of in your head, you’re sort of playing a couple of different things at once. There is something always beneath the surface, which is obviously very interesting from an acting standpoint.
So being a genre fan yourself Elijah, why do you think good witch movies are so few and far between and what are some of your favorites?
EW: Witches are not really serviced a great deal, I am not sure why. Favorite witch films: The adaptation of the Roald Dahl novels (The Witches) is still great. The movie is actually..
IN UNISON: TERRIFYING!
RL: I just remember watching it as a child and being mortified the little boy never turns back in into a boy.
EW: Angelica Huston is so unbelievable…
RL: When she pulls off the wig when they are having the big conference in the hotel…
EW: I love that film, that’s a very Roald Dahl take, but its fantastic. The Witch which is coming out in February, that film is the only film I’ve ever seen that deals with witchcraft from a semi realistic perspective. It’s all based on actual writings from the time in early America. It’s written accounts, historical documents, court records, the language is the English language as it would have been spoken in the 1900s, at times it plays like a foreign film. It’s really extraordinary. Oh and I love The Craft. The Craft holds up man! I don’t know the last time you saw it. It’s very much of the 90s and of a certain era, but man it’s good.
RL: I think they are doing a remake of it.
EW: FUCK ME! (Laughs) There are so many takes on witchcraft and what I think is exciting about our film, is it’s a new way to experience them. In this film there is a brief scene with Rose and Vin where they talk about the history of witchcraft and you see this incredible carved tableau, that’s really incredibly detailed and the film kind of posits that witches came before man, which is just a really interesting approach. It modernizes them and this notion that they are amongst us.
I grew up loving witches; I mean in the states we have a connection because of this area, you know with Salem and Massachusetts. I am so fascinated with the notion of witchcraft, but by and large they were innocent people that were killed needlessly for just being slightly different.
RL: My little sister was actually born with a sixth finger, and it had a nail and we’ve always said had she been born in those times she would have been branded a heretic.
Rose, I love in the film when you kind of touch on that, when you’re talking to Kaulder about Salem and what Chloe would have done.
RL: Yeah I feel like she is incredibly affected by it. You know with the past and Breck and I, we had a brilliant dialog, we all had a brilliant dialog and we collaborated on the history of Chloe and her running away was because of that. Running away from her family because she was just fearful of her power.
Did you do any research for your role as Chloe to get yourself ready to play a witch?
RL: Salem certainly. But I kind of find once I was digging quite deep it put me in a very dark mood. I didn’t want to necessarily submerge into that world too long. I was very put off at how these women were treated, but they weren’t all women, but the majority was. The prosecutions, the hearings and the executions in the end with no proof at all. None.
One of the examples of testing a whether you were a witch was you had rock tied to your ankles and if you sank you were innocent. Then if you floated you were going to be killed anyway.
EW: Its ludicrous, there is also the man, they put giant boulders on him, and they would put another boulder and another boulder. The idea was if he was a witch he could withstand the weight, but if he wasn’t he would die, right. His last words, because he was so defiant, because he knew he was doomed, which is really beautiful, in that scenario because there was no way for him to get out was “more weight”.
EW: He said more weight so they put another rock on him and he died. Its heartbreaking and chilling at the same time.
RL: These kinds of stories even now, I go into myself, and I stepped away after a while.
So Kaulder has trademark sword that does some serious damage in the film and you are both connected to characters who are also very good with weapons, do you Frodo’s Sting or Ingrid’s bow could stand toe to toe with Kaulder’s sword?
RL: Hells yeah! Definitely. I think Ingrid’s pretty good with her bow and arrow. I think she could have taken him out.
EW: Sting is great as well. I feel confident.
Do you think Vin would have the same answer?
In unison: Probably not.
RL: He has a flaming sword; he would probably be like “I could take out all of you”.
EW: That’s true.
Speaking of Vin, he’s known as a big fantasy geek, did he have a geek moment with either of you considering your past roles?
EW: Yes. He did with me. Second or third day we were working together. We were sitting outside and we were just talking about the Lord of the Rings. He had questions and he started to tell me about his love for The Silmarillion. He was like you need to tell Peter Jackson he needs to make it, because I need to play this particular role. Yeah, he was definitely keen on Rings for sure.
Now Vin’s already started talking about a sequel, if it happens what part do you hope to play in the next film?
RL: If it happens. I couldn’t even fathom that they are already talking about a sequel before the first one is even released. With Chloe that is her gift and it is a black gift, the ability to dream walk and I think she will go further with that. It’s just a fabulous premise.
EW: I think as much as you can imagine the timeline moving forward in the sequel I could also see a series of films that dips into his past into other conflicts. You’ve got 800 years of history that you can cover and I think that’s actually just as interesting. You could go back into different time periods and see what his conflicts were.