MAGIC MIA

AUSSIE AC­TOR CON­TIN­UES ALICE’S SIL­VER-SCREEN AD­VEN­TURE

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - PETER MITCHELL Alice Through the Look­ing Glass opens to­day

A few weeks ago pro­ducer Suzanne Todd was look­ing at some large pho­tos hang­ing on the wall of a con­fer­ence room at the Dis­ney stu­dios in Los An­ge­les.

The pho­tos fea­tured the cast of Todd’s 2010 sur­prise box-of­fice block­buster Alice in

Won­der­land, in­clud­ing Johnny Depp, Anne Hath­away and He­lena Bon­ham Carter.

De­spite the star power in the pho­tos, Todd’s eyes were fo­cused on “baby Mia”.

Can­berra-born ac­tor Mia Wasikowska was only 19 when cast by Todd and di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton as the ti­tle char­ac­ter, based on Lewis Car­roll’s 1865 chil­dren’s clas­sic.

“I’m so impressed with her,” Todd says. “Even at 19 she was self-pos­sessed, thought­ful and intelligent and came at ev­ery­thing from a place of in­tegrity.”

Wasikowska’s first break was in the TV se­ries All Saints in 2004 and in 2008 a role on the US se­ries In Treat­ment in­tro­duced her to Amer­i­can au­di­ences and film­mak­ers. The sur­prise suc­cess of Alice

in Won­der­land, which joined Ti­tanic and Avatar at the time as the only films to earn more than $US1 bil­lion at the global box of­fice, would have tossed many young ac­tors down a Hol­ly­wood rab­bit hole.

How­ever, Wasikowska landed on her feet.

In­stead of search­ing for other block­busters, Wasikowska starred in a mix of crit­i­cally ac­claimed roles helmed by elite di­rec­tors in­clud­ing Gus Van Sant ( Rest­less), Ro­drigo Gar­cia ( Al­bert Nobbs), John Hill­coat ( Law­less), Cary Fuku­naga (Jane Eyre), Lisa Cholo­denko ( The Kids Are All Right), Park Chan-wook ( Stoker) and John Cur­ran’s chal­leng­ing Aus­tralian ad­ven­ture film, Tracks.

Wasikowska says the suc­cess of Alice in Won­der­land did not im­pact her be­cause she be­lieves she had lit­tle to do with its huge box-of­fice re­turn.

“I felt like a very small part of it be­cause a lot of the suc­cess was be­cause of the other re­ally great ac­tors and creative peo­ple who were do­ing it,” Wasikowska says. “I felt kind of re­moved.” Wasikowska, Todd, Bur­ton, Depp, Hath­away and Bon­ham Carter have re­united for a se­quel loosely based on Car­roll’s fol­low-up novel, Through the Look­ing-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

Bur­ton has taken a pro­duc­ing role, with Brit, James Bobin, di­rect­ing.

There was pres­sure af­ter the suc­cess of the first movie to make a se­quel, but Car­roll’s Through the Look­ing-Glass lacked a sto­ry­line so it was a strug­gle to come up with a strong script.

“It was eight chap­ters about a chess game and although it is very en­ter­tain­ing, there wasn’t any­thing to draw from for a three-act struc­ture for a movie,” Todd says.

The creative team, how­ever, latched on to a small part of the book re­lat­ing to time – how peo­ple spend their time, waste it and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­alise how pre­cious it is.

The main new char­ac­ter in the movie se­quel is Time, played by co­me­dian Sacha Baron Co­hen.

Wasikowska, 26, says au­di­ences will dis­cover Alice is a dif­fer­ent per­son in the new film.

“In the first one Alice is a lit­tle un­com­fort­able, awk­ward and un­sure of her­self, but this one she has just spent a year trav­el­ling around and be­ing the cap­tain of ship so she is ex­tremely em­pow­ered and knows who she is,” she says.

Todd says that is ac­tu­ally a good de­scrip­tion of Wasikowska – not just to­day but back when she was 19year-old “baby Mia”.

“There are so many young ac­tors who strug­gle with de­ci­sions in their ca­reer,” Todd says. “There are so many tra­jec­to­ries.

“Are you go­ing to be some­body who takes ev­ery movie be­cause you want to work all of the time or do you just want to be on the cover of

Peo­ple mag­a­zine? “Mia has al­ways been some­one who has been about the work.

“She made her choices very care­fully based on in­ter­est­ing di­rec­tors she wanted to work with and cul­ti­vat­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Mia Wasikowska in the ti­tle role with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hat­ter in Alice Through the Look­ing Glass.

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