A new face in ‘Wonderland’ — meet Bloodhound

Feb. 17, 2010 | 6:41 a.m.

“ALICE IN WONDERLAND” COUNTDOWN: 17 DAYS

Are you ready for a trip down the rabbit hole? Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Disney are adding a strange new chapter to the Lewis Carroll classic with their “Alice in Wonderland,” a film that presents a young woman who finds herself in the world of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Red Queen. She is welcomed as a returning visitor — but is she, in fact, the same Alice who roamed the trippy realm as a child? Time will tell. Here at the Hero Complex, we’re counting down to the film’s March 5 release with daily coverage. Today, Burton talks about the Bloodhound character.

Bloodhound from Alice in Wonderland

The film is called “Alice in Wonderland” but the story it tells is quite different than the many other films that have used that title in the past. There is, for instance, a character that never appeared in the pages of Lews Carroll’s two “Alice” books — the Bloodhound, who you see above.

The role is handled by veteran British actor Timothy Spall, who worked with Burton on “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Spall may be best known as Peter Pettigrew in the “Harry Potter” films and he also played Mr. Poe in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events ” and the malicious toady Nathaniel in “Enchanted.” Spall is an especially prolific actor and has an energy that Burton admires.

“Timothy Spall is amazing,” Burton said. “I love him. He’s exciting because he’s always doing something different, he’s always working and doing some interesting project. He does all sorts of cool things.”

The bloodhound’s presence may be “a reaction against the Cheshire Cat” in the film, says Burton, who is no fan of felines. “The film felt a bit feline- and rodent-heavy, perhaps, and I think the Bloodhound adds a certain little gravity to it. When you see all of the characters, the animal ones, together, he added a little balance to it.”

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton created the hound dog to bring a conflicted character into Alice’s odyssey. As she told the Hero Complex earlier: “He kind of betrays the Hatter originally, and then he feels really badly about it, and then he assists Alice in the rest of the story. His family is being held hostage, and then in the end … well, let’s not spoil it.”

The canine is one of the fully animated characters in the film and Spall’s work was all at the microphone in an audio studio. The film may go on bizarre flight of fancy, but for the animated animal. Burton says, the goal was to keep them rooted in the real-world as far as their look and movement — except for the talking part.

“We were trying to find with this character and the other talking-animal characters the right kind of animation and the goal was to keep it naturalistic and to fit into that world in the background,” Burton said. “The movement of the animals is really what I’m referring to, in some animation the characters don’t move the way animals do and we wanted to go the direction of being naturalistic.”

– Geoff Boucher 

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Images: Walt Disney Studios

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