Interview: Gemma Arterton; Former Bond Girl Gemma Arterton Has Kicked Her Way Back into Action as a Witch Killer. Next Up She's Sucking Blood as a Vampire - and Loving It, as SHEREEN LOW Discovers

Article excerpt

Byline: SHEREEN LOW

IF YOU go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise... because instead of teddy bears having a picnic, nasty witches have set up home in the depths of the dark forests, waiting to steal innocent youngsters.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, is inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairytale but it has a twist in the tale.

Fifteen years after their escape from a cannibalistic witch, brother and sister Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) have conquered their fears to become witch killers. They're fierce, formidably-skilled bounty hunters with a taste for blood and murder, and hell-bent on retribution.

"I love the original fairytale and this starts there, then makes a real departure," says Arterton. "The film joins up with Hansel and Gretel in the midst of their fame as witch hunters.

"But it's also a time when they're starting to wonder who they are and why these terrible things happened to them, which leads them into a very tense situation. It's really about the two of them and it's original, a brother and sister bad-ass team."

After being abandoned by their parents, the siblings have to work together to bring down a coven of witches who are planning the ultimate revenge against humankind to gain immortality.

"The sibling relationship is such a great one to explore. Hansel and Gretel have this unstoppable bond, but they're also so different from each other," explains the actress. "She's the brains of the operation, he's the brawn. He's the joker and the show-off. She's more the watcher, the researcher, the one who tries to really understand witchcraft. They have to each play to their strengths."

The 27-year-old, who graduated from Rada in 2007, enjoyed working with Renner, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker in 2010.

"Jeremy is so amazing at action, but he also has a lot of sensitivity when needed. He brings a lot of fun to their relationship," she says. "He's become a really good friend. We just have a very natural connection, very open-hearted and we trusted each other instantaneously. It was so important for us to get that brother and sister relationship right."

A self-confessed 'girly girl', Arterton enjoyed the opportunity to play a feisty female.

"It was a real relief to play that kind of part. Usually you still have to have a romantic connection with one of the characters, but in this one I don't and it's great," she says.

She threw herself into the training for the role, which sees her hoisting some impressive weapons, throwing punches and kicking some serious witch butt. …