Anne Hathaway is starring as the White Queen in Tim Burton’s epic 3D fantasy adventure “Alice In Wonderland,’ which will hit theaters March 5. She recently dished on the film in a Disney Q&A.
“The film already has a passionate following,” said David Singh, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Walt Disney Studios.
“Fans are eager to step into the incredible 3D Wonderland that Burton has created and get a glimpse at what he’s done with these brilliant characters, and we’re ready to give it to them,” he said.
The cast also includes Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and rising star Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
Hathaway made her mark in a wide variety of films, from her Oscar nomination in Jonathan Demme’s 2008 drama “Rachel Getting Married,” to her starring role in Garry Marshall’s hit comedy “The Princess Diaries,” and its sequel.
Hathaway recently dished on the film in a Disney Q&A about her upcoming role. Here are the highlights.
Q: Why have his books been enjoyed for generations?
Hathaway: In my opinion, what makes a great book is something that is universally specific. I didn’t read the “Alice” books when I was a child. I read them when I was in college. I was really into Nabokov, and apparently, he was really into Lewis Carroll, so I thought it was a good idea. So I read it from the perspective of a young woman becoming a woman—and I really related to it, the idea that you’re never the right size, that you could drink something to make you feel smaller, or eat something to make you feel bigger. On the surface, it’s kind of light and fantastical, but it actually does play into a lot of deep, psychological fears we have—inadequacies that we feel we have, insecurities, the way we relate to the world around us.
Q: Why are the characters also great for a Tim Burton movie?
Hathaway: One of the reasons why “Alice In Wonderland” and Tim are such a great match is because nothing is exactly as it seems in Wonderland. Nothing is entirely good or entirely bad. There’s a mixture of life and texture and intention, and I think that’s something with which Tim is really comfortable. And if you look throughout his filmography, nothing is ever what it appears to be or should be.
Q: Describe the character you play.
Hathaway: I play the White Queen. When I was trying to work her out, I kept saying to myself, ‘She is a punk-rock, vegan pacifist.’ So I listened to a lot of Blondie, I watched a lot of Greta Garbo movies, and I looked at a lot of the artwork of Dan Flavin. Then a little bit of Norma Desmond got thrown in there, too. And she just kind of emerged. And I really like her. When I first came onboard the project, Tim talked a lot about the relationship between the sisters, and that really opened the character up to me a lot. She comes from the same gene pool as the Red Queen. She really likes the dark side, but she’s so scared of going too far into it that she’s made everything appear very light and happy.
Q: What is the relationship between the White Queen and the Red Queen?
Hathaway: The relationship between the White Queen and the Red Queen is not good. They are sisters, but I don’t think it was ever particularly good. I just think that my character would never admit that she doesn’t like her sister. I think she tries to make excuses for her. She tries to find little things to love about her, but she really doesn’t that much. I think, from her perspective, if the Red Queen were just a bit nicer to her—allow the possibility that they could be friends, allow the room for love—that she would be willing to give over to it. But the Red Queen just rubs her the wrong way. They’re not buddies—they’re just related.
Q: What does Mia Wasikowska bring to her role?
Hathaway: Mia Wasikowska is an absolute delight of a young woman. She’s so playful and natural and down-to-earth—but she also has this ethereal quality to her, she feels timeless. What she brings to Alice is very, very difficult to pull off. Every time I do a scene with her, I’m just amazed at what she’s doing with it and that a young actress can bring so much gravity to this world. It’s somewhat eerie, the way she’s able to communicate feeling and where Alice is at that moment. It was lovely to work with her, just to get to observe that.
Q: What is your impression about how this film is being made?
Hathaway: I took a very Zen approach to filmmaking on this one. It sounds silly, but I had no idea what was going on. I walked in and it was like being in a neon-green terrarium–green on all sides, and tons of empty space. Tim knew what was going on—he was the one that is in control of it. All I needed to do was hit my mark and say my lines, and wait for Tim to tell me that we’re ready to move on. And that was my approach to it. I didn’t put any other pressure on myself. I just showed up and acted.
Q: What do audiences have to look forward to with this film?
Hathaway: Because the world of this film begins and ends in the imagination of Tim Burton, you’re not seeing a movie that’s been shot on locations that you’ve seen a million times. Because this world has no rules, you’re seeing so many different and separate brushstrokes and colors and characterizations somehow getting combined through Tim. And what I think you’re getting is an absolute exploration of the imagination. I think that’s the essence of the book, and I think that’s the spirit Tim’s brought to the film. Everybody on the film was so clever, so creative, so imaginative—and I think that’s what the film is about—how can we tell a story that honors the imagination in the most imaginative way humanly possible? And that’s such a fantastic idea.
The movie will debut on March 5, 2010.