‘Alice in Wonderland’ star Mia Wasikowska on Johnny Depp: ‘He’s so brave and smart’

Dec. 22, 2009 | 5:35 p.m.


Mia Wasikowska


So what was Mia Wasikowska’s experience filming the new Tim Burton extravaganza “Alice in Wonderland”? Very “isolating” admits the 20-year old Aussie who won the title role after the producers went on a major casting search.

Lonely, perhaps, because 90% of the filming was on green screen, the special, bare background used for special-effects shots. Every time Alice speaks to an animated character such as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat or the Caterpillar, Wasikowska was actually communing with a piece of sticky tape or a tennis ball or a cardboard cutout standing in for one of Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical creations.

Alice In Wonderland Mad Hatter

“I was basically planted in this sea of green,” the Aussie said. “I really had to use my imagination.”

Audiences might recognize Wasikowska from her nine-episode role as Sophie, a suicidal teen gymnast, on the HBO series “In Treatment.” She’s not a little girl in “Wonderland” either — in Burton’s version, Alice is 19 (and a return visitor, according to the denizens of Wonderland in the new trailer) not the 7-year-old in the literary classic. Wasikowska elaborated: “She’s grown up a lot and is somewhat a different person, and she’s kind of going back to her roots and discovering herself” and battling the evil Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter.

One of Alice’s friends in the film is the mad, mad, mad Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp in a tangerine fluorescent wig, with lime-colored eyes rimmed in red, and a pallid complexion.

“I think he’s so brave and smart with his choices. He can play a crazy character but still give it a core humanity which I think people can identify with,” Wasikowska said. (Depp, who prepares for his roles by drawing his characters, particularly wanted the crazy orange hair, an allusion to the mercury poisoning — many hatters, it turns out, used mercury to cure felt. As Depp told the Los Angeles Times last summer: “I think he was poisoned, very, very poisoned, and it was coming out through his hair, through his fingernails and eyes.”)

Mad as he might be, the Hatter is Alice’s ally. “They’re on the same side, “ Wasikowska said. “They have an understanding about each other. They both feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship.”

— Rachel Abramowitz


Tweedledee and Tweedledum

New “Alice in Wonderland” trailer

“Through the Looking Glass” owned by “real” Alice goes on sale

Frank Beddor takes “Alice” to a strange new Wonderland

Tim Burton and “Alice” feel the love at D23 Expo

Tim Burton’s graveyard cabaret

“Alice” a big part of Disney’s D23 Expo

Burton on past “Alice” films: “There wasn’t anything underneath”

Meet the cast: Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”

Photo credit: Walt Disney Co.


6 Responses to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ star Mia Wasikowska on Johnny Depp: ‘He’s so brave and smart’

  1. kt says:

    About the Author: Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, third of eleven children of an Anglican priest, was a mathematician and a logician who was a lecturer at Oxford for some 26 years. He was also an accomplished photographer, and a Church Deacon. Dodgson's pen name, (and the name by which you will undoubtedly know him best), was Lewis Carroll. He is best known for his whimsical tales, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
    In Carroll's original (1862-1864) manuscript for the story, Alice's Adventures Underground, which he personally illustrated, Alice was not the little blonde girl in a pinafore we have come to know from subsequent illustrations
    Charles Dodgson himself also recalled that day and others that followed:
    "Many a day we rowed together on that quiet stream – the three little maidens and I – and many a fairy tale had been extemporised for their benefit- .. -yet none of these tales got written down: they lived and died, like summer midges, each in its own golden afternoon until there came a day when, as it chanced, one of the listeners petitioned that the tale might be written down for her."
    This first manuscript, which was called Alice's Adventures under Ground is thought to have probably been destroyed in 1864 when, on November 26th 1864, Dodgson presented Alice Liddell with a more elaborate hand-printed second version which included 37 of his own illustrations as a Christmas present.
    The manuscript, entitled "Alice's Adventures Underground" was presented to Alice Liddell, inscribed as "A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child, in Memory of a Summer Day".

  2. kathie crook says:

    holy crud i cannot wait for this movie to come out tim burton is awesome and is so specific with is magneficent movies i treasure them all because he is great at what he does for a living hope he comes out with more twisted and crupted movies to come out with!!!!

  3. Jonah says:

    Possibly Depp's most textured performance but Wasikowska shouldn't deflect attention from her role; she is utterly charming as Alice. This is what we thought:

  4. Jonah says:

    Also, if you loved Burton's AIW you might want to dig a little deeper. We recommend The Annotated Alice, a definitive guide through Alice's adventures:

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