Mia Wasikowska is reprising her role as the adventurous and headstrong title character of Alice Kingsleigh in Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass, which opens in theatre's nationwide on Friday, May 27th, 2016.
The Australian native, often known for her Indie movie roles, starred in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland, which many consider a breakout role for her. Since she started acting at the age of 15 just 11 years ago, she's been nominated for 39 awards and had 6 wins. She's wildly talented, versatile, and demure, and we had the chance to sit down and chat with Mia Wasikowska about all things Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Mia talked about how she loved being able to reprise the role and that Alice has grown and become more independent since the first movie. She's enjoyed seeing Alice's journey and what it means as a message to youth.
In the first film, she was still a little uncomfortable and trying to bridge that gap between knowing who she is on the inside and then being able to be that on the outside. And I think that was sort of her journey in the first film. And then in this film, she's just spent 3 years as the captain of her own ship, and she has a really strong sense of who she is.
She comes back into this story with a really strong sense of that, and despite the fact that expectations of her are really low in her society, she manages to sort of hold on to that sense of being worth more than what people want of her, which I think is really great and important for young girls and boys everywhere.
Alice is a great role model in terms of being independent and strong willed and believing in herself. Mia loves that Alice has the innate sense of who she is and is able to look beyond her challenges and the people always questioning her and is able to hold on to that strong sense of herself. She believes that's a great message for young girls and women to take from this movie. In her role, she is an independent woman who isn't worried about what other people think. Alice is all about look at what you can do if you believe in the impossible.
Even when she goes to the ball with the oriental costume she just doesn’t' even seem to notice the judgment like coming off of everybody else, and that sort of just seems to roll off her back. I guess just that sense of not caring so much about what other people think, I think, is really important.
It's not something I ever considered until you see that it has an impact on people. It's not something that I really ever thought about until after the fact, but I'm excited for this film because I think we've come a long way, and especially in terms of, in this film where we're kind of satirizing the idea of female hysteria, which only a hundred years ago was taken very seriously.
So it's a big step to be able to be like, “Well, this is so obviously ridiculous.” Whereas like not so long ago, it was so serious. That's a big step, and then there's obviously a long way to go before things are entirely equal, but I'm like excited that slowly it's more normal that there's like a lead character in a big summer movie that's a female, and such a feisty one. And she's not in a way a love interest. It's just around being a friend and a loyal person, and I think that's really important.
While every actor and actress may have lots of favorite moments from a film, Mia really enjoyed one particular scene with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in the Marketplace when she's trying to explain to the Mad Hatter that she's met him before when he's older and she's younger.
I think that's so sweet, and it's got like such an essence of the original book to it, that whole abstract, quite bizarre nature of it.
There are so many fantastic quotes in Lewis Carroll's works, which is one of the reasons the Alice books are so memorable and have become such classics. We asked Mia what her favorite quote associated with Alice Through the Looking Glass is. She agreed there were so many, but talked about how she really liked the message of Time.
You can't change the past but you can learn from it, and that's I think really deeply understanding. It’s the best way to kind of live your life and be in the moment, to accept what's happened in the past and move on into the future openly and not be sort of fixated on trying to change something that's already happened, which I feel like we can get a bit caught up in.
Mia has some favorite relationships in the film, as well. She really valued the relationship between Alice and Time.
I think Sacha [Baron Cohen] plays a confident idiot very well. He's this old powerful loser in a way and Alice is the only one that of isn't scared enough to pull him out on how he just doesn't make any sense at all. I like that she has no fear in approaching anyone, but especially him, because he's gotten such a strong ego.
I think there's a 6-hour version of the film somewhere because he improvises a lot and he's quite ambitious about it. I'm not sure how he thought half of that was going to get in a Disney movie if you're at all like familiar with his humor. It was just very entertaining. Every day was something like completely different, so I would say he's very ambitious and very smart and really funny.
Mia also really loved filming the scenes with the Mad Hatter. Partly because there was so much green screen filming, so the scenes with the Mad Hatter were often on physical sets so those days were somewhat more enjoyable, but Mia said the scenes were “really lovely scenes between the two of us and that was really nice.” Having worked with Depp and many of the rest of the cast before, it was nice to have a level of familiarity with them. She said that always helps when you step into a project like Alice Through the Looking Glass that is so abstract.
So we all sort of knew each other and that always helps stepping into a project like this, which is quite abstract. He's such a wonderful person, such a lovely, sensitive person and I love that he's so kind of creative. All his characters are very, very different, but they're also distinctly his own characters.
Every film also comes with its set of challenges. Whether those challenges arise from stunts, specials effects, or something in the role itself. Mia said even just reading the script can be daunting because it can take so long.
It takes an hour and a half to read the script, and you're like, “Okay, so I do a lot of running,” and then that translates to 5 months of running every day and jumping, and it feels quite physical. And so just sustaining that level of energy when you have quite little coming back at you in terms of the set. It's just a big green blob of light. We had a few more sets on this film, which was really great, but otherwise, it's quite an abstract experience.
I had a 2 week period before we started filming with the stunt coordinators, which is really great. They were really a brilliant group of people. There's no illusions to the fact that I did quite a lot of the physical stuff, but I had a wonderful stunt double who did a lot of that really difficult, painful stuff. So I would come in and do like the fun, whimsy bits, and then she'd be like thrown across the room.
Mia has done so many period films, so approaching something more fantasy and abstract was a different level of energy compared to her period works.
This is a bit more of a heightened experience for all sorts of reasons, and I feel like period can kind of cross many genres in one way and many different tones. I've done some period films that have felt like quite naturalistic, and then others that are quite like exaggerated and fantastical. This was just sort of a different level of energy, I guess, and obviously like there's not much like ambiguity in children's films, because I think that ambiguity is unsettling, so things are very straight forward. And even in terms of like emotions, you very clearly express how you feel, because I think kids like that clarity.
Mia talked about how growing up reading the Alice books, you can read them at different stages in your life and get something different out of them depending on when you read them and what is going on in your life. That is just one of the brilliant things about Lewis Carroll.
I think the great thing about the books is that you can read them at any stage in your life, and they mean a completely different thing. I think kids see stuff in it that adults don't and vice versa. I like that it lends itself to like many different interpretations. I hope if anything, all these interpretations kind of bring people back to the original source material.
Someone says, “We're all mad here” or “You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” I think that's like really comforting and great.
Mia's favorite theme from the movie dealt with the relationship between family.
I did really like that it looks at the relationships between all the characters a lot, like Alice and her mother, and the Hatter and his father, and then it looks at sort of like the root of the rivalry between the sisters. Your own relationship with your mom changes again and again as you grow older and you go through different stages in your life, and that kind of like reestablishing that relationship and how that happens like constantly. Alice and her mom learn from each other and are able to really appreciate each other again. It's really sweet in this.
If she could go back to any period in time, Mia would go back to the Victorian Era because she's done so many films in that period and she's like to see if they've gotten it accurate. She says she'd like to see what they missed.
I would never, ever want to live in that time even having spent just a few months in those costumes. Even after the first one, I said I'd like never do another period film, and I obviously haven't kept that up, but yeah, I would never really want to live in that time, but I would love to see it.
When she's not on set, she's gardening at her home in Australia, or enjoying the ocean since she's so close. Mia is also an avid reader. She's filmed so much back to back for the last 3 years she's rather looking forward to a short break before picking up her next project. One thing she hasn't done that she's love to try is comedy. Good comedy is something she feels is hard to come by and it's a genre she hasn't delved into yet.
Read about the Red Carpet Premiere of Alice Through the Looking Glass
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS opens in theatres everywhere this Friday, May 27th.
I’ve been invited on an all expense paid trip to LA courtesy of Disney. As always, all opinions are my own.