cedric nicolas

With The Huntsman: Winter’s War, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan makes his feature directorial debut with the fantasy sequel. Nicolas-Troyan worked on Snow White and The Huntsman, as a visual effects supervisor and second-unit director. After the experience of collaborating with director Rupert Sanders, the 47-year-old visual effects artist decided to finally direct a movie of his own.

The sequel stars Chris HemsworthJessica ChastainEmily Blunt, and Charlize Theron. This time around, the story centers around Hemsworth’s Eric the Huntsman, who must retrieve the lost mirror for Snow White, in order to prevent — you guessed it — winter’s war.

Below, read our Cedric Nicolas-Troyan interview, in which he discusses his debut feature, a surprise narrator in the film, a key VFX shot, and, of course, Gore Verbinski‘s 2005 drama, The Weather Man.

You said you weren’t sure, in your 30s, whether you could direct, but after Snow White and The Huntsman, you felt ready. What changed for you? 

You know, it was being on the set, working side-to-side with Rupert, and definitely doing second-unit work, with the intricate fight scenes, things where there’s a lot of pressure and timing. You can say, conceptually, “Oh, I can do it.” You’ll see it in your mind, but then you have to make it happen on the set. Making a movie is like running a marathon: for 75 days, on a set or outside on a location, you gotta be able to be, mentally and physically, prepared. It can be a bit taxing, as far as stress goes and whatnot. You know, conceptually, you can do it, but can you go through it day in and day out and still be fresh? Doing the first movie, coming out of that, I thought, “Now I know I can do this.”

How did the experience of directing your first film live up to or subvert your expectations?

Well, the thing is, because I’ve been in this business for 20 years, I knew what I was signing up for when I got this movie. I was pretty realistic, of what it was and what was going to happen, so I wasn’t really surprised by anything there. I think the big question was: How is the relationship with the actors going to work? Are they going to get along? Are we going to get along? Are we going to have a great time, an OK time, or a bad time? Those were definitely big questions.

Also, I was thinking, “Well, I have that going on, but what about the real-estate in my mind?” People don’t realize that you have a certain amount of room in your mind. Most of the time, there is room left for little things. One of the biggest surprises of doing this movie was that every piece of real-estate in my head was opened by the movie. That was new to me, and I probably didn’t see it coming. That was surprising.

When the actors and I started working together, all of the sudden the pressure started to disappear, because I realized that we were all getting along, respecting each other, and having a good time. I realized the week before we started shooting, when we rehearsed a little bit and did some stuff together, that we were going to get along great. Sometimes you think, “Oh, maybe it’ll just be like this for a few weeks, and then it’s going to go south.” After the first days on set, we knew we were going to stay like that all the way until the end, and that’s exactly what happened.

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