Cast and creative team discuss “Alice Through the Looking Glass” at press conference in Beverly Hills

in Disney, Movies

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With “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (the sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 movie “Alice in Wonderland”) making its theatrical debut this week, Walt Disney Studios held a press conference in Beverly Hills, where director James Bobin, producer Suzanne Todd, and stars Mia Wasikowska and Anne Hathaway were present to share their feelings on the process of making the film.

Producer Suzanne Todd spoke first about how the desire to make the sequel came about. “Well, it took us a long time after the first movie to come up with an idea that we felt was really worth taking on. As everyone here knows, movies are very difficult to make. So we went back to the literature. We went back into what was so popular for a hundred-fifty years. And themes came up that were were interested in– that Linda Wolverton, the screenwriter, wanted to take on, and when James [Bobin] came on board, [ideas] that he was interested in.”

“And we [focused] on what’s in the movie now, which is Time and the preciousness of time, and the importance of spending time with loved ones, and also what a pretty, kick-ass girl can do if she sets her mind to it.”

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Star Mia Wasikowska (Alice herself) commented on what it was like returning to the character that launched her career into the mainstream, and what it’s like playing a powerful female role model. “Yeah, it was great. At the beginning of this film she has been traveling around the world for the last two years, and she’s the captain of her own ship, so she’s coming from a very empowered place.”

“I just love that she has a very strong sense of who she is, despite the fact that expectations for her are really low when she returns to England. She’s able to hold onto that sense that she’s worth more than what other people want for her. Yeah, I think she’s great.”

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Director James Bobin was then asked why he chose “Alice Through the Looking Glass” as his new project. “Well, I’m English, so I think when you grow up with Alice, it’s part of your life. So I really felt like I knew who Alice was for me. The Alice in this film is really my idea what Alice would be like if she was grown up. But also I remember reading Lewis Carroll as a kid, and he made me laugh.”

“And obviously, lots of stuff I’ve done in the past has been comedy. So I wanted to try to bring a little of that to this story. Because I always thought [Carroll] was the author of surrealist, absurdist humor, which was pretty much a direct line to Monty Python. Again, part of my growing up. So, how do you not say yes to this film?”

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Cast member Anne Hathaway (Mirana) discussed how she felt about getting to explore her character’s past and play a younger version of the White Queen. “Yeah, it was fun to learn that she’s not perfect. I think she’s lovely in the first one, but a bit oppressively good.”

“And so it was nice to know that, like everyone, she’s got a past, and she has regrets, and she feels shame, she feels guilt, and that we [can] forgive her of these things. So I actually was really thrilled that we were trying to see what the deeper issues were about these characters that look so fantastical but feel so believable.”

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The two actresses were asked about their thoughts on their elaborate wardrobes in the movie. Wasikowska responded, “[Costume designer] Colleen Atwood is brilliant, and obviously such a genius, but also quite evil because they’re very uncomfortable costumes. But in this one I got to wear lots of trousers, and things that were a lot more accessible. Alice in this film is very active.”

Image Copyright 2016 Disney
Image Copyright 2016 Disney

Hathaway added, “You know, I thought that Colleen’s costume probably created my character. I had certain one-note ideas about who she was, and then as I found the dress I thought, ‘Oh, she’s air.’ And I also started to think about the relationship between her and Helena [Bonham Carter’s character, The Red Queen] and I thought, if you have a family member who has a very very large personality, who has a lot of emotions, you compensate by taking up less space.”

“And so I thought, ‘here’s somebody who’s turning herself into almost weightlessness.’ And yet, it’s still so ornamented. So I just thought it’s very rich and very airy. And that’s how I kind of came up with my airhead.”

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Finally, James Bobin elaborated on the creative process of continuing a movie franchise from where iconic director Tim Burton left off, and how he was able to maintain the visual style of storytelling while still bringing his own ideas into the movie. “It’s a question of tone. And tone is the result of a million decisions you make over the period of production of the movie.”

“So it’s something that we’re incredibly aware of, because obviously Tim’s movie looks so beautiful, and there’s a certain brand to his type of work. But this [new] film is set in a different time period and geographical location, so I was allowed to bring something of myself to it, as well.”

WATCH “ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS” TRAILER:

Bobin continued, “Of course we really owe a debt to Lewis Carroll. I’m pretty familiar with his work, and I really felt that once we [knew we] couldn’t tell the story of the book, I wanted to pay tribute to him in a sense that [this] would be a story that he would appreciate. And even though time travel, as a literary conceit, [appeared] later than him, I think as a mathematician he would appreciate the idea of time travel.”

“But at the same time, having Time be a person was of course Lewis Carroll’s idea. Lewis Carroll wrote in the book, when the Hatter meets Alice for the first time, [‘I’ve been stuck at this tea party since last March, when Time and I quarreled.’]”

“So it’s kind of those bits. It’s basically trying to incorporate elements of Lewis Carroll, whilst maintaining a Tim [Burton] world.”

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Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” opens this Friday, May 27th in theaters nationwide.

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