With Time Burton’s epic-looking version of Alice In Wonderland set to be released in less than a month, Movie Mazzupial had a chance to chat with Alice. Okay, not literally Alice because she’s a fictional character and that would mean I’m slightly crazy. Rather, the sweet Australian actress who plays her; Mia Wasikowska (above).
The 20-year-old actress first burst on the scene with a supporting role in the brilliant Aussie flick Suburban Mayhem in 2006. Her big break though came when she starred in the award-winning series In Treatment, which led to roles in larger Hollywood films like Defiance.
Yet nothing can compare to what is arguably the biggest role of her career as a grown-up Alice in Burton’s 3D version of the classic tale.
The trailers and stills from the movie have been going loco online, mainly because they look incredible. Personally, this is the film I’m looking to most in 2010 so you can understand my excitement when I got to chat with Wasikowska today about what it was like to be part of this exceptional film. A ridiculously sweet, polite and soft-spoken girl, she shared some interesting perspectives on the future of 3D, her favourite films and of course, what it’s like to work with some of the most powerful and respected people in the industry.
I hope you enjoy the interview transcript as much I did chatting to her, she’s truly lovely.
MM: Firstly, what was it like to film a movie like this? It looks like an amazing process to be a part of?
Mia: It was fantastic. Its been a really long process because we shot the movie in 2008, towards the end of the year and it’s almost been two years now. It has been a fantastic experience.
MM: From an acting perspective, what was that like? I mean, did you have to visualise a lot of what was going on given the use of a green screen?
Mia: Well, three months of it was green screen and there’s not a lot to draw from. You have to rely on concept art and the director telling you what you’re feeling. It’s strange. There were scenes when I had to interact with a tennis ball or sticky tape which was about 50 per cent of the movie.
MM: Have you read the book? Most people know the story from the Disney movie but the book is quite dark.
Mia: I have, I read it again before I started filming and as an adult saw a different side to it as kid. It’s such a unique story. I saw the observations, the darkness and the humour that I didn’t before. It’s such a beloved story by so many people and to be able to bring it to another generation is such a big honour.
MM: Did it seem surreal to you, coming from a background of lower budget Australian films or even gritty dramas like Defiance?
Mia: Not at all. Where I come from, especially living in Canberra in a completely different world, everyone was really great at making me feel very welcome and comfortable.
MM: And what was it like to work with Tim Burton?
Mia: Tim’s so great and such a wonderful person. He was so collaborative and open to my ideas, and he gives you so much trust from the beginning. He’s so clear with his vision and his direction. I really admire him.
MM: Could you see yourself working with him again in the future?
Mia: I’d love to work with him again as he’s an incredible artist and filmmaker. Being able to watch the whole process of him finding a project and bringing it to life was incredible to see. I learnt a lot and it was amazing to be a part of that.
MM: What was it like to work with such an amazing cast? It seems pretty much anyone who’s anyone is there like Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, you know what I mean.
Mia: It was great, it was similar in that they made me feel very comfortable. I grew up watching them and loving everything they were in so it was very surreal. It was almost like taking their careers as an example and I’m very inspired by the way they have navigated their way through life and their careers. That was very cool for me.
MM: So was it easier to interact with them as an actor once they were recreated into those amazing characters?
Mia: That was the best part. Seeing them in all their costumes and makeup gave me ideas and that’s a lot of how we had to get inspiration for the characters. The first time I saw Johnny is his full hair and make-up I didn’t even recognise him so it was very easy to believe him as that character.
MM: I bet, the images I’ve seen so far are incredible. What kind of research did you have to do for Alice?
Mia: I used the storybooks as the backbone of who she is and it was the framework for our Alice because in our story she’s 19 and older, a different person to who she is in the book. I drew experience from the process I’ve gone through as a teenager and seen my friends go through, that awkwardness and feeling that all these pressures are on you. It was about stripping away Alice the icon, the fairytale, and just finding the teenager.
MM: Given the success of Avatar and being part of Alice, which is no doubt going to be a huge 3D film, do you think that 3D is the future of filmmaking?
Mia: I’m not entirely sure it’s the future, it’s definitely going to be very popular and interesting to see how the technology evolves and when it’s used and how. I’m definitely still in love with film film’s though.
MM: What’s another fairytale you would like to see brought to life? I understand you passed up a Sleeping Beauty adaptation recently.
Mia: Yeah, um, I’m probably a little old but I always loved Hansel & Gretel.
MM: That would be great, I could definitely see Tim Burton doing a version of that given the darkness and gothic themes.
Mia: Yeah, totally. I think he already has done something like that.
MM: So what’s next for you? What’s the next project you have coming up?
Mia: I start Jane Eyre at the end of March so I’m looking forward to that. I love doing things that are different from anything I’ve done before. It keeps it interesting, doing different things in different ways. I look forward to finding lots of different characters that challenge me and to also give something back to the audience.
MM: This is a bit off topic from the Alice In Wonderland stuff, but what are some of your favourite films or films that inspired you to get in this industry?
I really loved A Woman Under The Influence and Blue, Red and White. I love Sophie’s Choice, The Piano, An Angel At The Table. Um, there’s so many.
MM: Yeah, I know, sorry. It’s a bit of an impossible question. What do you think it is about these films that you love so much? I mean, are there underlying themes or great performances that attract you?
Mia: The characters are very unique and you don’t see them anywhere else except in those films. There are wonderful actors that portray those parts, they’re beautiful stories, beautifully filmed and everything about those films is amazing.
MM: Okay, well, thanks so much for your time and I hope you have fun on the press tour and all the premieres and everything, it should be very exciting.
Mia: Yes and thank you, thanks for doing this. I hope you have a lovely day.