An incredible new project is in the making from writer/director Max Gold. Beast is a darker take on the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast starring Thor Björnsson (aka THE MOUNTAIN from HBO’s Game of Thrones). Beast is something special: shot entirely in Iceland with an entire Icelandic cast and crew, the film interweaves the classic fairy tale with Icelandic folklore. It challenges our notion of fairy tale heroines and explores ferocity, tragedy, and love. The project is currently running a Kickstarter campaign that you can be a part of before it ends Tuesday, April 7.
Check out the stunning trailer and our exclusive interview with Max Gold below:
The title of the film is “Beast,” and true to the original fairy tale, we don’t quite yet know how to feel about him. How does the film explore his backstory and overall character?
Beast is alienated and lives in shame because he is cursed with a hunger for human flesh. Beast lives alone in a cave guarding this magical rose that is his life force, but it also chokes the land in famine.When Beast meets Bell, he immediately sees a new reason to live.
Ingi Hrafn embodies the role with a deep sensitivity combined with unique physicality that he’s spent months developing. Ingi studied carnivorous cats for inspiration, and his animal side definitely shows. At the same time, when you put the camera closer to him you see how gentle of a person he is.
What was the casting process like?
The casting process was extensive. I held three large casting calls in Los Angeles and saw hundreds of people. Then I went back and forth to Iceland and met many people there. The most difficult part was that so many of them were talented! In addition to that, I’ve seen thousands of submissions via social media, which has been a cool way to do casting. Many of the talented people who reached out to audition are now following the project on Twitter/Facebook and many have even backed it on Kickstarter. That’s a really cool thing, it’s like we’ve built a family from the ground up.
Ingi and Berta have so fully embodied the roles that it’s no longer “Beast” and “Bell” in my mind, it’s just “Ingi” and “Berta.”
What sort of Icelandic fairy tales and folktales inspired this film?
I’ve done a thorough study of the Icelandic Sagas (which are more histories than folklore) combined with the Poetic Eddas which is a foundation of Norse mythology. Additionally, there is a wealth of traditional Icelandic folklore, sources unknown. What all of these texts have in common- fiction or nonfiction- is a deep respect for the land. Everything emerges from the land and returns to it. Especially magic.
Our tale takes place in the year 800, which was a pivotal point in Icelandic history. The Vikings invaded the land, which was inhabited by Gaelic monks.
Filming in Iceland must be challenging but it also must be incredibly beautiful as well. What sort of challenges have you faced and what has been the most inspiring about your location shooting?
Yes, filming in Iceland in the winter especially was a challenge, but always beautiful. The actors were far tougher than we were, because they endured those conditions in nothing but tunics! The day we shot the fight scene with Thor Bjornnson, the blizzard was so dense that you couldn’t see more than a yard ahead of you! Every day was an adventure, and while each member of the crew was tested down to his and her bones- every single person rose to the occasion. As a result, we are like a family now and going back to shoot in May and June will be a cake walk! 🙂 Just kidding, it won’t be a cakewalk. The wind is just as strong in May as it is in January, and the weather just as capricious.
The character of Bell has a very dark and traumatizing past. How does “Beast” play with our expectations of stories and traditional fairy tale tropes?
One theme that the film engages is a reversal of the fairytale archetypes. Bell is by no means a damsel in distress. She is actually more fierce than Beast himself! There is no knight (or Viking) in shining armor who waltzes in to save the day.
The central question of the film is: ‘Where does that love go when you lose someone you love?’
A big thanks to Max for the exclusive interview with Legendarium! You can learn more about Beast and help support the making of the film at their kickstarter page. The campaign ends April 7, 2015!