Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass marks the return of Mia Wasikowska playing the title heroine who must return to Wonderland to help fix the Mad Hatter who is suffering from a depressing stupor. Anne Hathaway also reprises her role as the White Queen, whom we find out has a few skeletons in her closet.
We were recently invited to the film’s press junket where we learned about why the cast wanted to come back to Wonderland, their memories of reading Lewis Carroll, and why Hathaway thinks it is wrong to think of actors as role models. Check it all out below.
As we all know, there is no reason to revisit a film world without any real stakes, and for film producer Suzanne Todd, it took a long time to come up with an idea that was worth taking on. “We went back to the literature. We went back to what has been so popular for 150 years and themes came up that we were interested in that Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter, wanted to take on,” said Todd. “Then when James [Bobin] came in, what he was interested in, and we really focused on what you’ve seen in the movie, which is time and the preciousness of time and spending time with loved ones, and also what a pretty kick-ass girl can do when she sets her mind to it.”
Mia Wasikowska was more than excited to make her return to reprise her title role, but never expected that she would do so. “I know the film world a little bit more and having already done the first film and worked with the cast and a lot of the creative team, I knew what I was stepping into the second time around,” said the actress.
For Anne Hathaway, it was fun to explore the White Queen in greater depth. “It was fun to learn that she’s not perfect,” Hathaway said. “She’s sort of lovely in the first one, but a bit oppressively good and so it was nice to know like everyone she’s got a past and she has regret and she feels shame and she feels guilt, and that you can be forgiven for these things. I was really thrilled that we were trying to see what the emotions were about these characters that looked so fantastical but feel so relatable.”
But if there was one thing that changed for Wasikowska, it was the costumes, some of which the actress admitted were quite uncomfortable. “Colleen Atwood is brilliant, obviously such a genius, but also quite evil, because they are very uncomfortable costumes,” Wasikowska said. “In this one, I got to wear a lot of trousers and things that were a lot more accessible. Alice in this film was really active.”
Hathaway was relatively disappointed that she didn’t get to wear any trousers like her fellow co-star but said that Atwood’s designs actually helped create her character. “As soon as I put on the dress I was like ‘oh, she’s air,'” the actress said. “I started to think about the relationship between her and Helena [Bonham Carter], and I thought if you have the family member who has a large personality, who has a lot of emotions, you compensate by taking up less space, and so I thought if you’re somebody who is literally turning herself into almost weightlessness and yet it is so ornament. So I thought it was rich and very airy, and that is how I came up with my airhead.”
Despite taking over a franchise that Tim Burton has created, Bobin was still able to bring his voice to the sequel through his experience reading the works of Carroll. “I remember reading Lewis Caroll as a kid and he made me laugh and obviously a lot of stuff I have done in the past has to do with comedy so I wanted to try to bring in some of that into this story,” Bobin said. “He’s the author of absurdist realist humor, which you can pretty much trace in a direct line because you got Monty Python, which again is my part of growing up. I wanted to kind of bring that because it was really a fun idea and of course I inherited an unbelievable cast so how could you not say yes to this?” But for Bobin, it was a question of tone. He added, “I wanted to pay tribute to him in a sense that it’d be a story that he would appreciate. I think that even though time travel is a literary conceit is later than him, as a mathematician, he would appreciate the idea of time travel, you know equations and physics. I wanted to keep that part of it too, but at the same time having Time be a person was, of course, Lewis Carrol’s idea. Lewis Carrol wrote in the book when Hatter meets Alice for the first time, “I been stuck here since last March when Time and I quarreled.” It’s kind of those bits. It’s basically trying to incorporate elements of Lewis Carrol while maintaining the Tim world, but then bringing something of what you think those things are, and then there’s the day by day living your life thing. The end result I am really pleased in.”
“When you talk about what you’re talking about in terms of achievement of the tone and the look, it is thousands and thousands if not millions of decisions,” Todd chimed. “We were very lucky in many cases to have Danny Elfman to come back to do the score and Colleen Atwood, who won an Oscar for the first Alice, to come back to do costumes. We had a new production designer, Dan Henna, another Academy Award winner, whom we were very lucky we chose someone who fit in and helped James honor what Tim had done, push him into something fresh and new that was James’ own thing. Ken Ralston doing the visual effects, obviously, them coming back, they had been Oscar-nominated for the first movie, and Ken has won many other Oscars. It was many, many I’d say millions of decisions.”
With the films drawing inspiration from the works of Lewis Carroll, everyone involved has had a different introduction. Hathaway had read an annotated version of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, for which was inspired by Carroll’s novels. So the actress started to read Alice in Wonderland in order to have a better understanding of Lolita. “I think being 19 and fairly dramatic and college at the time, I think I focused on how much how well Lewis Carroll described madness,” Hathaway said, “That idea that you see the world a little bit off. I remember feeling very connected to that at the same time. As you feel when you encounter people who champion that way of living I felt a kinship, I felt a home whereas I previously felt isolated.”
Though Hathaway’s body of work is extensive she is known for starring in family friendly films. So there is a certain expectation that she is supposed to be some sort of role model. “When I did The Princess Diaries I got a lot of questions about being a role model. It never occurred to me that actors should be role models, for a multitude of reasons,” Hathaway said. “That’s not what I am interested in. I don’t make films for that reason. If they happen to work out that way sure I am thrilled.” She is, however, very proud of her filmography “I’ve now been in a lot of films that actually you can go into a movie theater and have a date night with your family or you can snug down on the couch and everybody is in sweatpants and make a human amoeba and just chill out together and feel warm and feel connected and I’m proud my body of work includes stories that allow families to experience them together,” the actress said. “I can’t say I am going to continue to make them because I have a child now. I just will continue to hopefully make them because I respond to them and seek challenges as an actress.”
Through the Looking Glass has a strong message of female empowerment, and Hathaway went on to praise Disney’s initiative to make films with strong female characters. “I invite you to stop the narrative saying women lose power as they get older,” said the actress. “Iâ€™m tired of myself feeling the opposite. Take the narrative back the way Alice does.”
Alice Through the Looking Glass opens in theaters on May 27, 2016.