At only 20 years old, Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is poised to take the world by storm. Not only did she land the coveted role of Alice in Tim Burton's upcoming 'Alice in Wonderland,' but she also recently graced the cover of Vanity Fair, along with other members of young Hollywood.

Effortlessly polite and demure, Wasikowska sits calmly in her Four Seasons hotel suite, as if the impending media storm doesn't faze her in the least. She is modest and bashful about the trajectory of her career – and seems doubtful that 'Alice' will rocket her to stardom. Moviefone sat down to talk with her about acting the monster literary role, and what it was like working with Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp (to name a few).

At only 20 years old, Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is poised to take the world by storm. Not only did she land the coveted role of Alice in Tim Burton's upcoming 'Alice in Wonderland,' but she also recently graced the cover of Vanity Fair, along with other members of young Hollywood.

Effortlessly polite and demure, Wasikowska sits calmly in her Four Seasons hotel suite, as if the impending media storm doesn't faze her in the least. She is modest and bashful about the trajectory of her career – and seems doubtful that 'Alice' will rocket her to stardom. Moviefone sat down to talk with her about acting the monster literary role, and what it was like working with Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp (to name a few).

Your hair is short now. Were those extensions in the movie?

Nope, that was my real hair. It's quite nice not to have that everywhere. It always needed to be curled, it was in my face all the time.

How on Earth did you secure this role?


I heard about it in 2008, and I put down a video audition in Australia. I sent it off to the UK casting director, and then I didn't hear anything for a number of months. Then they called me out to the UK to do an audition with Tim [Burton]. I think I did three more before I got the role.

Was it nerve-wracking at all to do the audition in front of Tim?

Yeah, kind of. The closer you get to landing the role, the more intense you become about wanting it. Tim was very comfortable, though – he's not intimidating.

Did you have to suppress your accent for the movie?


Yes, I had to speak with an English accent. I quite like doing an accent, it takes you away from yourself a little bit. It's fun.


How familiar were you with the 'Alice' story before you took on the role?

I was pretty familiar. I had read the books when I was a kid, and loved them. I read them again before I started the film. I found all these things as an adult that I didn't see as a kid. The humour, all that; I appreciated it on a whole other level. I think that's what's so unique about it, that it appeals to both adults and kids.

'Alice' has the potential to be a very dark and scary story, though.

Oh, most definitely. But I think there's a balance. It's not completely dark... I think on some level kids enjoy being scared, to a certain extent. It's an adventure.

Alice is a gigantic literary figure. Did you feel any pressure in taking on this role?

Yes. There's a certain amount of pressure that comes with playing a character that's so beloved by so many generations, and so iconic. At the same time, we were realistic in our approach – obviously you can't please everybody, so it was more important for us to stay true to what our idea of Alice was.

Our Alice is quite different from the Alice who was 7. She's 19, and she's returning to Wonderland for the first time since her first visit, and dealing with a lot of things that young women deal with at that age, where you have a lot of expectations from people and society, and she feels a certain amount of discomfort with that. The main message about finding herself and empowering herself is a very important one for young women to remember.



Tim, Johnny, and Helena have all worked together numerous times. Was it hard to adjust to such an established group of actors?

It was like joining a family for me. They were beyond welcoming. I immediately felt comfortable, and not at all like I was out of place.

Besides yourself, who was your favourite character?


Well, I do like the Tweedles, and the Cheshire Cat for its creepiness. And the Caterpillar. But overall, I loved the way Annie [Hathaway] played the White Queen. She's the good queen, but also completely twisted. All of them brought a side to their characters that I didn't see – their imaginations are so vivid, it was really amazing.

Did you enjoy filming any scenes more than others?

Oddly enough, I liked the scenes in England a lot, before I even go to Wonderland. I just liked any of the scenes where I could be the correct size. [Laughs] It was somewhat frustrating at different proportions. I'd be looking at an eye-line, or a piece of sticky tape, or a tennis ball on a stick, and I'd have to imagine that this was a character. Sometimes it was like acting in a void.

How fun was it on-set?

There was a lot of fun. Whenever Johnny was on-set, it lifted the feeling. Tim has so much fun working with him too. They speak their own language. They can just look at each other and know what they want. One word from Tim, and Johnny's like, "I got it, I got it."

Are you ready for stardom?


I'm taking it as it comes, we'll see. One day at a time.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland opens in theatres on March 5, 2010.
CATEGORIES Interviews