Alice Krige interview: From Borg Queen to Witch in Gretel & Hansel

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 10: Alice Krige attends the 'Chariots Of Fire' UK Film Premiere at Empire Leicester Square on July 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 10: Alice Krige attends the 'Chariots Of Fire' UK Film Premiere at Empire Leicester Square on July 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images) /
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Alice Krige
Alice Krige stars in GRETEL & HANSEL.. Photo Credit: Patrick Redmond / Orion Pictures /

Out of the Mundane

1428 Elm: At first, you were hesitant to venture into the world of Gretel & Hansel after you read the initial screenplay. However, when you saw the shooting script you said that the “language became extraordinarily potent.” Explain how that changed your mind about wanting to participate in the film.

Alice Krige: Well, at the same time as I got the shooting script, I met Osgood. It was Osgood really and the language, that made me decide to do the film. The language took it out of the mundane.

I haven’t seen the finished product yet so I don’t know what I ultimately did as The Witch, who she became but I was fascinated because the language took the script into a different space like a Greek tragedy. What happened to my character wasn’t ordinary. She went to a terrible place.

There was that but there was also Osgood. I just knew he was going to infuse order. I hope this is what happened.

Its what we both fought to do with compassion for The Witch with her difficulties to be human. Its not easy. I hope that in the end, people feel heartache for her because she didn’t want to but she ended up here in this horrible place.

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On the other hand, going back to Silent Hill, Christabella was in such a dark place but there was no way out of it. Because Osgood felt compassion for The Witch as an addict, she hated where she was but she couldn’t stop being who she was. There was that crack that let the light in.

There was some light in her. For me, with Christabella, there wasn’t any. That was the difference.

You could see in The Witch that once, there was humanity there.

A Catastrophic Bond

1428 Elm:  You also stated that when you were researching The Witch that you “imagined a layered and complex set of motivations, which emerged following a catastrophic event when she was a young woman.”

Do you think this is how she bonds with Gretel’s character at first since they both had something traumatic happen to them? (Gretel being rejected by her mother and left to fend for herself with her brother). Is that unfortunate commonality how she gained Gretel’s trust?

Alice Krige: I absolutely think so. Gretel was abandoned. The human psyche is so complicated and it doesn’t work in a straight line, does it? Its not cut and dried. Sometimes it is hard to understand the journey.

So, The Witch had a beautiful child who had a dark gift which consumed it and as a result, the child was ripped away from her. On a weird level, she is abandoned by her child.

In her grief, she can’t bear having anymore children so she eats them. Its too weird for words but that is what happened to The Witch. She recognizes in Gretel who she was and she recognizes her power.

The Witch can’t help herself. She tries to take Gretel down her lonely road. I believe that Gretel is who she is and she won’t go down The Witch’s path because she isn’t her. She’s Gretel.

That is why The Witch doesn’t want to eat her. She recognizes herself in Gretel. She can eat Hansel but she can’t eat Gretel because she is who my character was in the past.

1428 Elm: For our last question, if you had to describe Gretel & Hansel in a sentence what would it be?

Alice Krige: “Inside grim imagination of who Gretel, Hansel and The Witch are and how they became the characters that we meet in the forest.”

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Thanks again to Ms. Krige for her time. Gretel & Hansel opens in theaters on Jan. 31.

Are you planning to see Gretel & Hansel? What is your favorite Alice Krige role? Let us know in the comments.