A new version of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, this time entitled Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, is on the way and after rumors and speculation we now know who exactly will be playing the titular duo.
Last September Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) let slip in an interview that he was up for the role of Hansel and his casting appears to have been confirmed today. In the same interview last year, Renner mentioned the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, as a possibility to play Gretel. However, fast-forward a few months and Paramount has evidently gone in a different direction with its leading lady.
Heat Vision is reporting that Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans) has snagged the lead role of Gretel in Witch Hunters, beating out the aforementioned Rapace as well as Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) and fellow Bond girl Eva Green (Casino Royale). Not bad for an actress who's only been in the business for three years.
Although Arterton has a few projects listed as "in development" (including the sequel Wrath of the Titans), she will likely focus on Hansel and Gretel first, since director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) is eyeing a March 7th, 2011 shooting start. The scheduling issues fall on Renner's side of the fence, as just eight weeks after he's finished filming Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol he'll move onto The Avengers. Renner will reportedly squeeze Witch Hunters in between the two blockbusters.
Renner and Arterton will play older versions of the Hansel and Gretel characters we all know. The new version will take place years after the gingerbread house incident and will see the eponymous duo - after becoming bounty hunters - taking revenge by hunting down and killing witches. Hence the title of the movie.
Some may say that this is a bastardization of a beloved children's tale, while others (myself included) would say it's a unique spin on the story. Renner is a great choice for the role of Hansel (his Oscar nominated role in The Hurt Locker has really served him well for getting major roles) and while I would have preferred Rapace in the role of Gretel, I have no complaints about Arterton landing the gig.
Since a March 7th shooting date is in the cards, you can expect Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters to open sometime in 2012 (maybe even late 2011). Word is that Paramount is moving things forward quickly with the project in order to get ahead of Fox's adaptation of the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is set to open on June 22nd, 2012.
Source: Heat Vision