Johnny Depp carries on the scary tradition of orange hair

Feb. 24, 2010 | 7:25 a.m.

Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter on Alice landscape


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.

Ralph Malph

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.

Carrot Top
Dennis Rodman

“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


Alice in Wonderland poster

The White Queen is domestic goddess

Avril Lavigne wanders in “Wonderland”

“Alice in Wonderland” as silent film, musical and … porn?

Mia Wasikowska on Depp: “He’s so brave and smart”

Johnny Depp picks his poison for “Alice”

“Alice” star says “Wonderland” is a sequel, not remake

Burton says “Alice” has a “national treasure” in actress Windsor

Burton and stars will be at “Alice” fan event in L.A. on Feb. 19

Meet Bloodhound, a newcomer to Wonderland

“Alice” screenwriter is ready for the haters

Red Queen = Leona Helmsley? Maybe so, says Burton

Burton took a “Shining” to Tweedledee and Tweedledum


4 Responses to Johnny Depp carries on the scary tradition of orange hair

  1. Andrea says:

    Oh great! Here's more cannon fodder for the anti-gingers.

  2. Chip says:

    Haha Carrot Top..nice

  3. sleazytiki says:

    "Oh great! Here's more cannon fodder for the anti-gingers. "
    HAHA! I thought gingers were cannon fodder!!!

  4. Jenny123 says:

    I just saw Alice in Wonderland last night! It was…. well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone =D You should have seen the lines! But it was so worth it. And everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was decked out in Alice gear, from Mad Hatter hats to Alice dresses to really cool Alice in Wonderland t-shirts. I went to my local radio station site and you can actually win some really cool Alice goodies like t-shirts I saw last night, nail polish, and awesome posters. Check it out!

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