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Creatures of Alice in Wonderland

Published March 1, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Walt Disney Pictures
Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is full of surreal creatures you may remember from reading the Lewis Carroll books. Even if you don’t, just knowing it’s a Tim Burton movie lets you know there’s a visual treat in store. Some of the many Wonderland creatures got to share their stories at a press conference for the film.

Alice in Wonderland's Creatures Talk

Crispin Glover plays the Knave of Hearts, right hand to the evil queen. “I was on big, tall, green painters stilts for a lot of it, and I was in the green screen element,” Glover said. “But, I loved it. I had a genuinely great time working on this film and am just grateful to be in it. I’m excited about it. Earlier in my career, I’d get very set on a particular idea for things and, with every take, I’d want to get into that particular idea. Now, I’ve reversed and become expansive, and want to give different versions for the editor to play with.”

Michael Sheen provides the voice of the White Rabbit, who leads Alice down the rabbit hole and remains nervous throughout. “I would haven give anything, literally, to put the ears and the tail on, and jump around,” Sheen said. “I would have loved to have done that. One of the things I loved about the film most is that the animals really do look like animals. They’re not humanized, in any way. When a horse suddenly turns around to the Knave of Hearts and says something disparaging about dogs, you really don’t expect it. It’s really effective. So I can understand exactly why they went with the idea of really going for the animal thing. But, I still look very cute with a little bunny nose, so maybe I can be in there, if there’s a sequel or something.” So, I did a couple of sessions with Tim, and just had him all to myself, in London and in America. I was filmed with just a basic camera, so when I saw it, I was amazed at how much all my hand movements were there. Tim said, “Really perform it. Don’t just do the voice. Move and do as much performing as you can. Twitch your nose as much as you can.” So, I really recognized my hands. It was really funny. I didn’t think I’d recognize any of that.

Matt Lucas plays the dual role of Tweedledee and Tweedledum. “What happened was that I was in one of these very fetching, green lycra body suits that are very slimming,” Lucas said. “You could see my face and it’s my face matted onto the chubby casing that you see in the film, for both characters. So, there was another actor, called Ethan Cohn, who was great, and he played whatever Tweedle I didn’t play, at the time. He had a brilliant memory. He’d say, ‘No, remember, you did it like that,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, thank you,’ because it might be a couple of hours from when I played one Tweedle to the other. In a way, he was my memory, as much as anything else, and I really wouldn’t have been able to play this part without him.”

Because Alice shrinks and grows throughout the movie, even the petite characters had to play the height differences. “It was strange,” Lucas continued. “Sometimes we were walking on stilts because the first time we meet Alice, we are a great deal larger than her, and then other times we were crouched on the floor. But, I liked it and I had my own trailer and I watched TMZ every morning until one morning I was on it, and then I didn’t watch it anymore. I was like, ‘I don’t like this show anymore.’ And, they gave me matzah ball soup for lunch and had mint chocolate ice cream, every day. I liked it. Can I do more films, please? Thank you.”

Alice in Wonderland opens to theaters on March 5th.

For stills, trailers, posters and more movie info, go to the Alice in Wonderland Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Walt Disney Pictures

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