ALICE IN WONDERLAND” COUNTDOWN: 10 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 describes his version of the Mad Hatter.
The movie is called “Alice in Wonderland” but, really, the star of this film is Johnny Depp, who is making his seventh appearance in a Tim Burton-directed film.
Depp has made a specialty of hiding his leading-man cheekbones behind oddball disguises and the latest is google-eyed hatmaker whose gone around the bend. He is also an exceptional dancer and a not-half-bad swordsman.
The shock of tangerine curls jutting from beneath his hat and his orange-rimmed eyeballs hint at the story lineage of his madness; orange-tinted mercury was used in the manufacture of felt in Victorian England and sometimes it seeped through the skin — with nasty side-effects.
“Hatters kind of went mad because they used certain chemicals in the hat process and little things like that really ground it for the performers and for the audience,” Burton said. “Even though we don’t go into all that about the poison, it creates a full picture that helps ground these characters. So they’re not just random weirdos. Yes, they are weird, but there’s more.”
Depp got the idea for orange from the research he did but Burton seized on the idea for a more personal reason. “There is something really scary about orange hair. Every performer in my childhood who had orange hair, it seemed to signify that they were not to be trusted and could be dangerous. Bozo, Carrot Top, Ralph Malph — if you go there, it’s frightening stuff.”
— Geoff Boucher
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