TeenHollywood has an interview with Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. In it, they discuss playing feuding royal sisters in Alice in Wonderland, their female roles, how their children have responded to the film, and more. Here's the entire interview, but beware of minor SPOILERS!:
TeenHollywood: Helena, that's an adorable dress.
Helena: Thank you! I thought it was appropriate for Alice.
TeenHollywood: When people say you have a "big head" in this movie, they aren't speaking of your ego, right?
Helena: Well, I’m not as inflated (today). Maybe that’s why Tim gave me the job. I’m one of the few actresses who can blow up their head.
TeenHollywood: Is there music in the background? Can someone turn that off?
Helena: Funny. That’s my music. That’s what we do at home is we have the (film's) score going…
TeenHollywood: Talk about the challenges of acting all this against green screen. Seems more and more films are getting made that way now.
Helena: When you’re acting you kind of have to imagine anyway but the unsung heroes of (the movie) are these various green people dressed in leotards that fed us the lines off(stage). (For example) Michael Sheen (White Rabbit) wasn't there. I had a 12-inch drawing of a rabbit but, behind him was this green screen actor so that’s what we had to act opposite. I would have appreciated it if (Michael) had come in his bunny outfit once but he didn’t. (laughter). This actress (indicating Anne) is the one who had to do her own special effects. She didn’t have anything special done to her. We all had to act opposite tennis balls and bits of tape but you do that anyway. Actually tennis balls and bits of tape can be good actors; minimalists (Anne is laughing).
Anne: I would do anything if Tim wanted me to. I would have played a mushroom in this if that’s the way he saw me in it. I would have happily donned my green onesie and been up on stilts. I would have done anything to be in Wonderland but it’s kind of nice to be a real person as well. Being CGI'd or not? I have no preference, sorry I don’t.
Helena: Tim did digitize my waist. Did anyone notice that? They go on about my head but my waist is digitalized. (laughter). He told me that from the beginning, ‘don’t worry. Don’t go for the full pull-in with the corset every morning’ so I didn’t. Then halfway through says ‘you know? The waist is gonna cost too much so…’ So halfway through I suddenly went for the pull and then luckily, someone just told me ‘no we could do the waist’.
TeenHollywood: Anne, can you talk about your character the White Queen?
Anne: I’m so much more interested in what Helena has to say about it. One of the most fun parts about my character was this freedom that Tim gave me from the first conversation we had. He said ‘you know, in Wonderland, I don’t want anything to be all good or all bad so I don’t want it to be that the Red Queen is the bad one and you’re the nice, benevolent one who’s all good’. So, he said ‘have fun exploring the relationship between the two of them. They come from the same place’. So I thought ‘how fun if my character has a sort of hidden psychosis’..
Helena: It’s not all that hidden (we laugh).
Anne: Now it’s not. She is interested in knives and things like that and is kind of adorable on the outside and has tried very hard to become this good, almost over the top, positive creature but, underneath, she kind of has a murderous streak that comes out when she’s around weaponry. So, it wasn’t necessarily that they were opposites. They were just sisters who were different.
TeenHollywood: You have sympathy for the Red Queen at the end of this I think.
Helena: Oh, thank you.
TeenHollywood: Helena, I heard you had to spend hours in the make-up chair each day. What was the problem?
Helena: (laughing) You see the problem! Speak to my husband. No, it wasn’t that long. I just said hours for the sympathy effect but it was only two and a half hours.
But they put a bald cap on and get rid of my hairline then have to paint it and put my beauty make-up on, that took some time, then my huge wig. They didn’t blow my head up every morning. They did that on camera. I had this one camera, there are two cameras in the world that do this, they just blow your heads up. I had this huge camera dedicated to me, which was fine by me.
TeenHollywood: You weren't in the make-up chair longer than for your ape make-up for Planet of the Apes?
Helena: No, that was much longer. That was four hours. He (Tim) likes to put make-up on me, likes to deform me. I love it. I always like looking as different as I can.
TeenHollywood: Anne, when did you read the “Alice in Wonderland” books? Or “Jabberwocky” (a Lewis Carroll poem)?
Anne: When I was in fifth grade I had a teacher who made the entire class memorize “Jabberwocky” and perform it. So, I made Tim, during the battle sequence, let me recite the poem. And he looked at me, ‘you know it’s not going to be in the film’. And I said ‘I know but just for my own sense of completion, in my life, please let me do this’.
I didn’t read “Alice” until I was in college. I was really moved by it. She’s a very emotional character and I think a lot of people feel confused at 19, as to who they are, who they think they are, who they want to be. We struggle with a sense of identity then and other times in your life. I really read the book from that perspective; of a girl who is trying to find her identity which is great because that’s what the movie focuses on; which Alice are you? So, that was my experience.
TeenHollywood: Anne, you were quoted as saying you thought of the White Queen as a punk rock, Vegan pacifist. Can you explain?
Anne: The pacifist thing was in the script. My character had taken a vow of non-violence but it was also in the script that, when she talks about that she hits a bug so that gave me the idea that’s she’s taken this vow against her will, that she recognizes that her sister is sick and believes that a means to an end is cutting people’s heads off and that’s kind of her default setting and I’m just like ‘I don’t want her to be in charge so I have to be in charge’.
I like the idea that my character probably, left to her own devices, might not have wanted to be queen.
So, then I started to think about who she was when she was in her off-queen time and I realized she spends a lot of time in the kitchen and I made her a Vegan then I just imagined her in Mosh pits and not really punching anyone but fighting against these people really hard and then I thought ‘I like Blondie’ and she’s blonde so that was obvious but I still wanted her to have a regal thing so I watched a Greta Garbo movie. I watched a lot of her silent films. I thought nobody has ever moved on film the way she did. Her whole body looks like it’s breathing.
TeenHollywood: Helena, as a mom of young kids, what do you think is an appropriate age for them to see this film?
Helena: I don’t know what age. Tim always has a theory that it’s us who have got the problem. We impose fears on our kids and the kids are actually quite robust. So, it depends on your kid.
We haven’t shown it to Billy (age 6) yet because it wasn’t finished until a few days ago. When we were trying to find a nursery school for him, according to the Montesorri method, (kids) can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy until age six. (The woman there) recommended no fairy tales so that’s why we didn’t send our son to Montesorri because telling Tim Burton that fairy tales are not a good idea is ….. ooooh (laughter).
TeenHollywood: What were your kids' reactions when they first saw you in costume?
Helena: My little daughter who was only one, just went ‘Mommie!’ (laughter). That’s what I look like at home but it was bizarre. But my son, slightly frailer and sensitive, he just didn’t want to look at me.
TeenHollywood: Helena, you’ve played everything from sex symbols to villains. Do you gravitate more to one than the other?
Helena: Thank you. Is this the sex symbol one; a frightening sex symbol? Actually somebody did approach me in the lift today because they found me attractive with a big head. No, the older I get, I only get villains at the moment but whatever is well-written and has a good somebody behind the camera who knows what they’re doing and a really good storyteller… I’ll act anything.
TeenHollywood: Anne, the film is really female empowering. Girls should dream the impossible, as Alice does, and make it so. Can you relate to that?
Anne: Yes. I think my life is an impossible dream. Acting made me curious about what actually is impossible and once you go after it, you find that a lot of things are very achievable. I think some things may seem impossible but you have to try.