Live-Action ‘Sword in the Stone’ Remake Isn’t Happening Says Damsel Director

Mar 8, 2024

The Big Picture

Damsel twists classic fairy tales, with Princess Elodie (Millie Bobby Brown) facing a dark, terrifying fate that she must navigate on her own.
Director Juan Carlos

Fresnadillo’s dream was working with icons like Angela Bassett, Robin Wright, and creating a unique dragon for the film.
The film breaks stereotypes and offers a modern take on fairy tales, ensuring new generations experience something fresh and captivating.

For their dark fantasy, Damsel, starring Stranger Things’ star Millie Bobby Brown, Netflix tapped filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who’s right at home in the genre. This twisted fairy tale takes the conventional cautionary tales and turns them on their head when young Princess Elodie (Brown) is married into the royal family. This happily-ever-after isn’t quite as it seems, and Elodie finds herself in a terrifying, waking nightmare that only she can save herself from.

In this interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Fresnadillo reflects on the DNA of his filmography and discusses his own dream come true of getting to work with Hollywood icons like Angela Bassett and Robin Wright. They also talk about challenging scenes to film, Brown confronting her fears on set, and the status of Disney’s live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone. You can check it all out in the video above, or read the transcript below.

Damsel A dutiful damsel agrees to marry a handsome prince, only to find the royal family has recruited her as a sacrifice to repay an ancient debt.Release Date March 8, 2024 Runtime 85 minutes Main Genre Fantasy Studio Netflix

COLLIDER: You’ve made a number of things in your career. If someone has never seen anything you’ve done, what is the first thing you’d like them watching and why?

JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLO: I’m very keen to show a family in an extraordinary situation. I think that’s kind of my DNA. If you see all of my movies, there’s always a family going through a very challenging and difficult journey. The way that the story shapes them, the way that they transform themselves, is one of the things that I feel most attached to tell to the audience.

So which on your résumé would you like people to watch first?

FRESNADILLO: I think my first movie, Intacto. It’s kind of a declaration of the things that I love and how I love supernatural scenarios and esoteric rules. So, I’m very keen to show, in these kinds of peculiar worlds and universes, real characters and real human beings. I would say that’s kind of my thing.

Image via 20th Century Studios

How much fun is it to be the director of a movie when you get to feature a dragon?

FRESNADILLO: It’s so fun, but it takes a lot of time at the same time, I have to tell you. It’s a very long process. You have to be so patient, but at the end of the day it’s worth it because you see something completely unreal and something that you would never imagine. So, it’s a dream-come-true to have a dragon in your movie because you can see all the nuances and little things that you’ve been thinking for a while suddenly portrayed in this kind of beast. So, it was a blast for me to create this dragon for Damsel.

I love dragons. I do think that’s one of the reasons why Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon are so popular. Besides everything else. How much are you looking at other movies like DragonHeart or all the things that have had dragons, and seeing, “This works. I like this?” Where are you drawing from, and where are you like, “Oh, that was a bad example?”

FRESNADILLO: I’ve seen a lot of dragon movies, as you can imagine, but I tried to be faithful with the story of this dragon, particularly to design how he’s going to look. There is a very important background story that we tell in the movie, and I think that was the core to shape the dragon and to design this beautiful creature in the movie. Obviously, as a filmmaker I always love to be original and unique, but in this case I think we were so loyal to the concept and to the story that we’re telling, which is this kind of dragon who is thirsty for revenge. I think that shaped the whole thing. It was a challenge, as I told you before, but I’m so excited to share this now with the audience because I think it’s really unique. I think it’s a dragon that you’ve never seen before.

Related Millie Bobby Brown Battles a Dragon in Netflix’s ‘Damsel’ Trailer There’s a moderate level of distress.

One of the other things I think the audiences are going to enjoy is the fact that this script flips the whole fairy tale on its head. It’s a good stepmom, the list goes on and on, she has to save herself. Can you talk about that aspect of the script?

FRESNADILLO: That was one of the things, when I read the script for the first time, I was so in love with. I think it completely breaks down all the stereotypes about fairy tales, and it shows something new and modern. I think it was really good to show this to the new generations, especially, because I think it’s a proper revision from these classic tales. I felt that it was the right time to do this now and make this movie in such a unique way with this kind of beautiful, new, modern take on this fairy tale.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ Editor Helped Shape This Dark Fantasy

I love talking about editing because it’s where it all comes together. How did this film change in the editing room in ways you didn’t expect?

FRESNADILLO: I would say that every single movie changes in the editing process because editing is almost like writing. In fact, I always say that you write the movie in three steps: when you’re writing it, when you’re shooting it, and when you’re editing. So the editing is massively important, and yes, we changed a lot of things. Making a movie is almost like research. You’re exploring a world. You’re kind of digging into a universe. You need to adapt and adjust many things. And working with John Gilbert, the editor of The Lord of the Rings [The Fellowship of the Ring], was a privilege for me because he has the background and the knowledge to really shape things and move things around to create this beautiful dark fantasy story that we did.

I’m sure you showed this to friends and family, other filmmakers. Who gave you the best feedback or the best notes and said something that you’re like, “Oh, I gotta fix this?”

FRESNADILLO: It was almost advice in the very beginning of the process when I was designing and prepping the script. It was coming from a friend of mine, who is also a filmmaker, and he told me, “Don’t forget that despite the fact that this is a fantasy movie with a lot of supernatural things, a lot of visual effects, don’t forget that you have to track, all the way, what your protagonist is feeling in every single scene. You have to convey to the audience what she’s feeling all the time.” That was kind of a mantra for me in this movie. For that reason, I decided to track Elodie in every single scene with the camera. And the camera, as you can note, is really close to her because I really wanted the audience to experience what she’s going through.

Why ‘Damsel’ Was a Dream Come True for This Director
Image via Netflix

When you saw the shooting schedule, which day did you have circled in terms of, “I can’t wait to film this,” and what day was circled in terms of, “How the F are we gonna film this?”

FRESNADILLO: [Laughs] I will reply to the second one first because it’s kind of an immediate thing that I thought of, which is the day that we were going to shoot the moment that Elodie’s stuck in one of the caves and she cannot move. I was so scared because I knew that Millie Bobby Brown has claustrophobia, and that’s not easy to overcome if you have to shoot in that place. So, we designed the whole scene with a lot of things to help her. I had a really long conversation with her and I was almost close to her, holding her hand, because I knew that it would be a challenge for her. But she behaved in such a beautiful way, she completely jumped into the water, and overcame her fear in such a beautiful way. And it’s there, it’s in the movie. The suffering that you see in the movie, it’s real. She was kind of touching something that’s really tricky for her. So, that was a difficult day, I would say.

Image via Netflix

The day that I pointed out that was like, “Oh my god, this is gonna be like a dream come true,” is the meeting between Lady Bayford and Queen Isabelle with Angela Bassett and Robin Wright. To have those two actresses colliding into each other and having this kind of duel was a dream come true because I’ve loved them since I was a young filmmaker. I dreamt a lot about working with them, so having them in that scene was a blast.

I think that having them in the movie also adds a lot of people who are now going to watch it, who were fans of their work. It’s great casting.

Disney’s Live-Action ‘The Sword in the Stone’ Has Been Put on Hold

I’m almost out of time with you, but I read that you’re involved in a Sword in the Stone live-action remake or version. Is that true?

FRESNADILLO: I was attached a long time ago, and I prepped a lot for Disney for that movie. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the studio decided to hold the project. So right now it’s in a holding situation, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, to be honest. But I think it’s a great story. I would be so keen to make it if they decided to greenlight the project.

I have a lot of friends who are in the same boat as that. They’ve prepped for a long time and then all of a sudden, “We’ll see.”

FRESNADILLO: But as you can imagine, this industry is always dealing with many projects, and you don’t know exactly which are the ones that are going to make it. So, yeah, The Sword in the Stone, I really hope that that happens because I think there is a big fanbase waiting for that.

Damsel starts streaming on Netflix March 8.

Watch on Netflix

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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