Famke Janssen threatened to wipe out humanity when her Jean Grey transformed into Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand – so the child-threatening sorceress she’ll play in the fairy tale action romp Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters should be relatively benign in comparison.
Janssen has officially signed on for the new take on the Brothers Grimm story, which picks up some fifteen years after the famous siblings’ encounter with the wicked owner of a gingerbread house – and finds the duo now working as specialized bounty hunters with a knack for taking down witches.
Deadline has confirmed that the X-Men trilogy actress is signed on for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which will also star multiple Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner (The Town, The Hurt Locker) and Clash of the Titans‘ Gemma Arterton as the the title characters. Production is tentatively scheduled to begin next month in Germany, under the direction of Tommy Wirkola, who is best known for helming the low-budget Nazi zombie horror-comedy (that’s a mouthful), Dead Snow.
It’s not clear exactly what mood and tone Wirkola will strive for with his unorthodox version of the Hansel and Gretel story. While Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will play out as a serious biographical picture that just happens to feature lots of bloody vampire-related violence, Witch Hunters could either be a dead serious, action-packed fantasy movie or more of a stylish campfest. Given Wirkola’s background, it’s difficult to say whether he’ll play the concept more for laughs or aim for something less silly – like what Jon Favreau is doing with Cowboys and Aliens.
Renner has proven himself to be a capable supporting player or leading man, which will serve him well in his upcoming tentpole projects like Witch Hunters, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and The Avengers. Arterton has made a name for herself in a short period of time, appearing in big-budget fare like the Titans remake and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – and most moviegoers seem to approve of her acting abilities well enough. Pairing the two of them against Janssen as another unnaturally powered vixen, so to speak, could make for either an entertaining or kind of dumb time at the movies.
Look for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters to arrive in theaters by either late 2011 or early 2012.