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 his version of the Dormouse.
“Remember what the Dormouse said: Feed your head, feed your head…”
That’s the memorable final line from the Jefferson Airplane classic “White Rabbit,” but when it came time for Tim Burton to cast the role for the Dormouse for “Alice in Wonderland” he took different advice: Watch your telly.
“I’ve been living in England for many, many years and I’m a huge ‘EastEnders‘ fan,” said Burton, referring to the soapy (and routinely controversial) drama that has aired on BBC One since 1985. “And Barbara Windsor is just wonderful on it and in so many other things. I’m serious, she’s a national treasure in England.”
To date, Windsor has appeared in 1,399 episodes of “EastEnders” and is the matriarch of the Queen Victoria pub and a signature character in the television life of England; as the landlady of the Victoria she has memorably ejected scoundrels and rivals with her catchphrase “Get outta my pub!” — which, no surprise, has become a favorite closing-time catchphrase in certain London taverns. If you watch highlight clips of her run on the show you also notice that she is very adept at slapping people.
Windsor’s Albert Square character has become something like the British equivalent of Archie Bunker in cultural resonance, so there has been much made of her October announcement that she will leave the show to spend more time with her husband (although she added that she would like to return in 2012).
It was Windsor’s voice that sealed the deal for the Dormouse role, but Burton sounds more like an autograph seeker than a world-famous filmmaker when he speaks about the 72-year-old actress.
“She’s just the nicest, the greatest — well, I don’t know, it’s just nice to meet people that you’re a fan of, then you find they’re really cool people. We’re lucky to have her in the cast.”
— Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED
Top, the Dormouse in “Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney Studios). Middle, Barbara Windsor in a publicity photo for “EastEnders” (BBC). Bottom, a promotional poster for “Alice in Wonderland”