When Natalie Portman signed on to play a psychotic ballerina in a lurid Darren Aronofsky film, film critics paused. Ironically, the concerns they raised were the same ones that became the crux of the movie's plot: did she really have it in her to take her character to play a villain? Even though the title was an inexplicable hit, for an actress known for girl-next-door roles (and a Naboo Queen), the departure was significant.
The same point may now be raised about Julia Roberts, newly cast as the "Evil Queen" in Relativity Media's Snow White film. To be clear: there's a big difference between a fairy tale villain and Portman's straight-out-of-a horror movie Black Swan. But audiences still have to get used to the former mega-star playing anyone other than herself.
The only other fairy tale movie that Julia Roberts has starred in was Steven Spielberg's revisionist Peter Pan tale Hook, where she played Tinkerbell. This new Snow White adaptation appears to be in a similar vein:
Relativity's version of "Snow White" will eschew the traditional story in favor of a modern retelling that boasts more comedy and adventure. Script finds the heroine teaming up with a gang of seven quarrelsome dwarves to battle her evil stepmother, who has killed Snow White's father and destroyed the kingdom that is rightfully hers.
The question remains: can Julia Roberts be a convincing villain? Up until now, her steeliest moment has probably been when she refused to come home early to Aaron Eckhart.