Movie Talk

‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ Five Film Facts

Movie Talk

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Gemma Arterton & Jeremy Renner in Paramount's 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters'

Have you ever wondered what happened to poor Hansel and Gretel, those wayward youngsters of folklore fame who narrowly avoided becoming a wicked witch’s delectable dinner? According to “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” those cute little kids grow up to be witch-hunting warriors with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play the now adult siblings, who travel the land, well-armed and leather-clad, taking out witches with reckless abandon in ever creative and blood-splattering ways. We all know the action-horror adventure will be a whole new spin on the Brothers Grimm, but here are Five Film Facts you may not know.

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Paramount Pictures' 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters'

Witch Wary

1. While the original Grimm Brothers fairytale didn’t have such impressive weaponry, it did have its share of violence. The original German folktale, which Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published back in 1812, tells the story of young Hansel and Gretel who are left for dead in the woods after their abusive stepmother decides they eat too much. When the starving kids see a gingerbread house in the forest, they are lured in by the owner, an old lady who entices with promises of hot food and warm beds. Soon enough the siblings realize the old lady is a wicked witch who intent on eating them. Eventually, the kids outwit their captor and push her headfirst into a lit oven, incinerating the screaming witch into ashes. So you can see how Hansel and Gretel could grow up to be more than a little leery of witches.

[Related: Get local showtimes and tickets for 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters']

Sibling Rivalry

2. Jeremy Renner didn’t have to dig too deeply to find motivation to play a sibling, as he’s a brother six times over, including a two-year-old brother, some 40 years his junior. When Yahoo!’s Michael Yo asked Renner what it’s like to be a brother to such a youngster, Renner replied, “I just saw the little sucker over Christmas, and I’m like, ‘You’re not my brother. I know you are, but you’re not. And I’m not changing your diaper, either.’ It’s a strange thing man.” You can see the entirety of Michael Yo’s interview above.

Renner in Demand

3. Renner’s stock rose quickly after his Oscar nominated performance in Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2008), and this film was one of the first big studio offerings that Renner bit on. “H&G” was shot way back in March of 2011, right after filming “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011) but before “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012) and “The Bourne Legacy” (2012), both of which came out last summer. Instead of opening early last March, as it was originally slated, Paramount pushed back the release date till this weekend, hoping to capitalize on Renner’s now firmly established leading man status. You can get a sense of Renner's star power in the trailer above.

[Related: 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' exclusive Red Band trailer]

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Famke Janssen in 'GoldenEye' & Gemma Arterton in 'Quantum of Solace'. Photos courtesy of United Artists & Sony …

Bond Girls Abound

4. While it’s not a rarity to find two Bond girls in one Bond movie, it isn’t so often you get two outside the 007 universe. But “H&G” delivers just that. In “Quantum of Solace” (2008), Arterton plays feisty red-head Strawberry Fields, a fellow MI6 agent who succumbs to Daniel Craig’s irresistible charms before going for a deadly swim in a pool of crude oil. In “Hansel & Gretel,” Famke Janssen plays Muriel, the most powerful witch in the forest, but this isn’t Janssen’s first time playing a hard-to-kill woman. As Russian assassin Xenia Onatopp in “GoldenEye” (1995), Janssen makes Pierce Brosnan’s first foray into super-spying nearly as difficult as passing the jungle level in the Nintendo 64 video game based on the film. Funnily enough, that was when “H&G” writer/director Tommy Wirkola first took notice of Janssen: “I had a crush on Famke since I saw her in ‘GoldenEye,’ which is an amazing villain.”

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Tommy Wirkola & Gemma Arterton in Paramount Pictures' 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters'

A Bloody Comedy

5. While the film isn’t necessarily a comedy, the story is told with tongue firmly in cheek. Perhaps some of the reason the jokes fly so well is because funnyman Will Ferrell and his long-time collaborator Adam McKay serve as producers on the film. After seeing Wirkola’s Nazi zombie film “Dead Snow” at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Ferrell and McKay’s producer Kevin Messick insisted that when the Norwegian writer/director decided to come to America, Wirkola’s first meeting would be with Ferrell and company. “My first meeting, my first day was with those guys and I pitched ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to them and they took me to Paramount the day after,” Wirkola told ShockTillYouDrop.com.

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