Entertainment

One-minute pitch perfect witch hunters

EQUAL PARTNERS: Gemma Arterton (Gretel) and Jeremy Renner (Hansel) in a scene from the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
EQUAL PARTNERS: Gemma Arterton (Gretel) and Jeremy Renner (Hansel) in a scene from the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. David Appleby

UNIVERSITY professors do their best to bestow their industry wisdom to their pupils, and sometimes it pays off - big time.

Tommy Wirkola was a film student at Bond University when his original idea for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters came to him.

"As part of our scriptwriting class we had a pitching contest where the teacher pretended to be a Hollywood producer," Wirkola said.

"We had one minute to sell him an idea. I remember going up and that was all I had at that moment, Hansel and Gretel 15 years after the incident and they grow up to be witch hunters.

"He told me, 'Never speak of this idea again until you're in front of a Hollywood producer and I guarantee you'll sell it'."

The budding Norwegian filmmaker followed his professor's advice, returning home and making his Kill Bill spoof Kill Buljo and zombie Nazi horror film, Dead Snow, before pitching Hansel & Gretel to Sanchez Productions.

The fantasy action film, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, is Wirkola's first big-budget feature.

"In the beginning it was all daunting with huge sets and a huge crew, working with Jeremy and Gemma and a big studio checking on everything, but I really enjoyed it," he said.

"When you make a movie in Norway you have to compromise a lot. You can never afford what you envisaged.

"It was quite liberating seeing all these things coming to life in front of my eyes."

The result is a dark and bloody twist on the popular fairytale, where siblings Hansel and Gretel grow up to make a living off killing witches.

"Our goal was to make a funny, crazy, gory, action-filled ride," Wirkola said.

"Hopefully we got the mix right."

Leather-clad and carrying an impressive array of semi-automatic weapons, Hansel and Gretel are called to a small town to investigate the disappearance of almost a dozen children.

Hired by the town's mayor, they immediately get on the wrong side of the sheriff (Peter Stormare).

What follows is a lot of witch hunting, fighting and killing.

Renner is well suited to the action, and as it turns out, the comedy too.

Wirkola was lucky to secure Renner just after his breakout role in The Hurt Locker, before he signed on to The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy and Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

"He's a really funny guy, and he really responded to that side of the script," he said.

"He liked the idea of doing something like that, showing his funny side."

But it's Arterton who clearly revels in her butt-kicking role, where she plays a strong female hero rather than a damsel in distress.

"One of the draws of this movie was the stunt work," she said.

"I was so pleased I didn't have to kiss anybody, or do all that lovey-dovey, gushy stuff. I do enough of that in other films. One of the most appealing things about the character is she is as strong as the boys. She doesn't have to have the guy."

Wirkola said it was important to him that the brother and sister be equals in the fight scenes.

"Gretel is probably the smarter one, while Hansel throws himself into everything without thinking twice," he said.

"She's the one who's thinking and calculating but she fights like a man and gets beat up."

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is in cinemas now.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Beach shacks unsalvageable: owner

Beach shack at 1674 David Low Way Coolum Beach,

Owner of beach shacks reveals that he tried to save them

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as title hopes fade

NOT HAPPY: Julian Wilson bowed out of the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, essentially ending his world title quest.

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as world title hopes fade.

Local Partners

'UNREAL': Paddler videos moment whale swims under his board

ZIGGY Alberts will never forget his morning paddle to Old Woman Island nor photographer Jodie Price will ever have better timing.

Residents' protests fail to stop community centre shift

Coolum Community Centre/ old Coolum Cinema/ Coolum School of Arts.

Council officers recommended the centre be moved

Beach shacks unsalvageable: owner

Beach shack at 1674 David Low Way Coolum Beach,

Owner of beach shacks reveals that he tried to save them

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as title hopes fade

NOT HAPPY: Julian Wilson bowed out of the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, essentially ending his world title quest.

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as world title hopes fade.

Festivals are done and the clean-up has begun

NOT FAZED: Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival director James Birrell and his clean-up helpers from Party Bins said they had already \"broken the back\" of the clean-up on Sunday afternoon.

Festival organisers are winding down after a huge weekend of fun

Peregian's market gain to open soon

Peregian Village Market is set to be opened by Mayor Tony Wellington on Wednesday.

Peregian's new market force

World's toughest smoking laws could get tougher

New smoking laws came into effect in Queensland from Thursday.

New smoking laws 'world's toughest' but harsher laws could follow

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'working on custody agreement'

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are thrashing out a custody agreement

10 of the worst wedding day disasters

Getting hitched without a hitch. That's the aim, right?

Trump's comments make light of statutory rape

Trevor Noah has gone to town on Donald Trump's sexism

Forza Horizon 3 review: Australia's never looked so good

Fancy racing a freight train?

Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Twelve Apostles feature

Tommy goes home in emotional Bachelorette episode

The Bachelorette contestant Tommy Saggus.

BRISBANE bachelor hopes show will give him more confidence.

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.