Saturday, February 13, 2010
Burton on the Red Queen's Head
When we first see Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, the first thing we notice is her gargantuan head.
"Oh, it's true, I can't even look at Helena anymore because now her real head just seems like a small orange," director Tim Burton deadpanned. "It's like she's got some shrunken head. It's sad."
Burton continued with more reasoned explanations: "In lots of illustrations and incarnations of Carroll's work through the years, it always seems like she had a big head. It was an interesting challenge for us to find the right size and weight and proportions. One of the things we wanted to do was to use the actors and their performances -- to use the real them -- and then make them different. It's still their performance but it's just made weird. We wanted to achieve this blend. That was an important dynamic."
"In a lot of children's literature and other literature it's kind of the same thing over and over -- there's good queens and bad queens, and here you have that but the elements are a bit blurred," Burton said. "Everybody's weird and has weird qualities to them. She's kind of a mixture. When I look at her now, she reminds me of pictures I've seen of Leona Helmsley. There's a tiny bit of elements of my mother in there too, for some strange reason. And Helena brings her own things to it too."
The Red Queen = Leona Helmsley?
The head was a large challenge during filming. Because the proportions were scaled up later in post-production, the actors had to consider the magnitude of Carter's cranium in their green screen sea.
"This was not a place to work with method actors," Burton said. "I was very lucky to have a cast that was willing to just go for it and be manipulated, so to speak. Luckily there was no head-size requirements in their contract clauses. 'No you can't make my head more than 70% larger.'"
See Carter's remarkably round head on March 5th in cinemas.
Just look at that head...