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Johnny Depp on Alice in Wonderland

Published March 4, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Walt Disney Pictures
When Tim Burton recreated Alice in Wonderland, he went to his go-to star to play the Mad Hatter. Casting Johnny Depp as the eccentric tea party host seems like a no brainer, and Depp took the role as seriously as any of his other kooks.

Johnny Depp is the Mad Hatter

“In terms of the Hatter, [I was] looking at it from that perspective of this guy who literally is damaged goods, physically damaged, emotionally a little obtuse,” Depp said. “Taking that and deciding that he should be, as opposed to just this hyper, nutty guy, he should explore all sides of the personality at an extreme level.”

There was no shortage of inspiration for Depp in Lewis Carroll’s original texts. “Ironically, it was only maybe a year prior to Tim calling, I had re-read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and what I took away from it was these very strange, little cryptic nuggets that he’d thrown in there. I was really intrigued by them, became fascinated by them because they were asking questions that couldn’t be answered almost, or were making statements that you couldn’t quite understand, like “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Those things just became so important to the character. You realize that the more you read it, if I read the book again today, I’d find 100 other things that I missed last time. It’s a constantly changing book.”

Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland

19th Century literature has provided the basis of many of Depp’s works, like Sleepy Hollow and Finding Neverland. It’s about time he got to Lewis Carroll. “I’m hoping to do The Hashish-Eater next. I just adore it, from certainly J.M. Barrie and the wonderful characters he created, Lewis Carroll, even French literature, like Baudelaire or over in the states, Poe. You open those books, you open The Flowers of Evil and begin to read, if it were written today, you’d be absolutely stupefied by the work. It’s this incredible period where the work is timeless, ageless. So yeah, I just love all those guys. It’s my deep passion in those great 19th century writers.”

With Tim Burton, Depp just hopes he fulfilled his friend’s vision. “Each time out of the gate with Tim, the initial thing for me is to obviously come up with a character. But then, there’s a certain amount of pressure where I go, ‘Jesus, will this be the one where I disappoint him?’ So, I try really hard, especially early on, to come up with something that’s very different, that he hasn’t experienced before, we haven’t experienced together before, and that would stimulate him and inspire him to make choices based on that character. I try not to embarrass him, basically.”

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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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Walt Disney Pictures

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