Yesterday we heard from Ray Winstone on his thoughts on being a dwarf and today it’s the turn of Nick Frost who plays the dwarf named Nion. In the interview, we get to find out how to pronounce his name correctly (sort of), and how Nick found filming this epic movie.
Snow White and the Huntsman is released today!
HeyUGuys – Do you think this will be your biggest fan-based movie to date?
Nick Frost – Yeah, maybe. I think Kristen’s fans will see to that. Whenever I tweet about anything to do with Snow White and the Huntsman, it get around 3000 or 4000 immediately tweets back with people linking it in but she has a fantastic fan-base.
How do we pronounce the name of your dwarf Nion correctly?
I think maybe Neon but I like Nion because whenever I hear Neon I think of Neo from The Matrix and I got off of it a little but so Nion (Nighon) is fine!
How far down the list of other dwarves did they get to before you said ‘I’m in!’
Probably one or two! I was the last one to be cast so there was a full list. Rupert [Sanders] (Director) showed me some of the concept drawings when we had our first meetings. There were all the dwarves drawn with all their outfits on and there was an eighth one with a question mark on. I saw Bob [Hoskins], Ray [Winstone], Ian [McShane], Toby [Jones], Eddie [Marsan], Brian [Gleeson], Johnny [Harris] and ‘Absolutely!’.
You have by far the coolest haircut though!
[Laughs], Hair, makeup and production said that everyone was going to shave their heads bald for the part and then we’ll put wigs on. I was like…… “hmmm alright”…. and my wife was a bit pissed off that I was going to have to do it. The clincher was that it was going to be an hour less in make-up every day if we don’t have to put a bald cap on you. But I was still in make-up for six hours every day and then I walked in and no-one else had shaved their head!
So you were the only one who did it?!
Yeah, like a real knob-head! So everyday I came in at 3am or 4am and they’d take a razer and shave it bald every day.
How did they make you look shorter? Was it all green-screen and CG and did you all shoot together?
We hardly shot any green-screen. There was some but not much at all. We went to a dwarf college for three weeks to learn how to walk like dwarves. They were very aware of our step-size and that was really important in terms of being able to change us into dwarves in post so we had to walk like dwarves constantly. They also had doubles of us who were little actors which they had our masks on, took casts of our faces and made these amazing prosthetic masks so at any time there were two of us on set. It was quite odd because we were all in one little tent, and then you’d look over and there we were again in another tent. It was quite weird.
I like the fact they also did quite a lot of in-camera stuff. Sometimes it was as simple as putting Chris and Kristen being on platforms and us being in a little ditch that they dug.
Then in post, how did they finish the effect?
They cut thirteen inches our of body and our legs and then marry the two together.
You’ve done all sorts of shooting now with Paul, working with a CG character, Tintin was Motion Capture and now this….
I think it’s good for me as an actor to do these things from a technical point of view so a) you see how they work and b) if this is the future going forward for a lot of films, I think it’s good to know what you’re doing from the get-go.
It wouldn’t be my job, this would be down to Rupert and the Producers but you have to trust that the FX guys are on it. And they are. The guys we worked with on Paul (Double Negative) right up until a week or maybe a month before Paul was released, they showed us things and we were like ‘Well…. it’s good, but it’s not backgrounding’ but then you see it finished and it’s amazing. You just have to trust that these FX guys know their onions and it’ll just be fine. There’s a lot of that on set, on any set because you’re so deep in it all. I think sometimes you’re forgiven for thinking when it’s on a screen 50 feet wide and we’re taking four months to shoot something that is 2 hours long, those things that you’ve fussed an panicked over will be fine and it will always somehow, be fine.
How is Nion different from the other seven dwarves?
Ray, our characters are quite similar. We chatted about our back-story when we got together. We imagined that we’re from the same clan or tribe and have come to this group as a two. We think a lot of these dwarves found each other thinking there’s no one else left so why don’t we stick together. I think half of us trust Snow White and ‘Tallsters’ (that’s what we call it in the film) and the other half don’t as we’ve had our homes, families and kids taken away so half of us want to kill any tall people and the other half don’t. Then we find Snow White finds us all or we find Snow White and and she begins to change us all. Me and Ray are the last to begin to trust her but her inner beauty starts to win us over. Rupert is quite clever with that and says that dwarves have a gift of seeing beauty in dark places which is why they were gold miners, seeing gold in the pitch black and that’s why they were so successful. So now they say that Snow White is gold to us and we’re compelled to follow her where we don’t trust her at first but there is something which compels us to follow her.
There’s the image that we see all the dwarves together during a scene (image above), were you fighting for position in that shot?
In that I made sure I was at the very back, which is not what actors want to do – they’d want to be right up front next to Kristen to make sure that they don’t get cut but he doesn’t trust her. Gort and Nion say she has to earn the trust.
What was working with Rupert like as a first time feature director and with such an impressive cast. Was he intimidated?
If he was he didn’t show it. I think he’s up there with Greg Mottola, unflappable man on set. He was partly, one of the reasons why I wanted to do this. When I first met him, he was smart, nice and had a real vision. He knew how he was going to get there and I loved watching him on set. He was surrounded with people building shit and moving lights, sound and boiling around him and he just, took it and knew exactly what he wanted. I liked it, if I looked at Rupert and he was calm and fine it was like, ‘great, cuppa tea!’.
Finally, will there ever be a sequel to Paul?
We’ve never heard anything so I think that will be that. We wanted one and had lots of good ideas but even if we started it now it would be five years.