It’s been quite the month for Anne Hathaway. She was one of the few members of the romantic comedy ensemble “Valentine’s Day” to escape with her dignity and reputation intact and how she’s got a prominent role in what will most likely be the biggest opener so far of 2010: “Alice in Wonderland.”
While much of the spotlight has been on Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, it’s Hathaway who is one of the few real surprises as the Red Queen’s sister, The White Queen.
Speaking at a press conference last month in Hollywood, Hathaway says she reveled in the freedom director Tim Burton gave her with the character. She recalls, “From the first conversation we had, where he said, ‘In Wonderland, I don”t want anything to be all good or all bad, so I don”t want it to be the Red Queen is the bad one and you”re like 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.'”
This lead to Hathaway always playing the White Queen like there is something “off” about her and Bonham Carter portraying the Red Queen like a misunderstood freak you actually feel some sympathy for.
Hathaway explains her thought process saying, “I thought, ‘Oh, how fun if my character has sort of a hidden psychosis and is dangerous and 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.”
But that wasn’t all. It’s implied that one of the reasons the White Queen has stood by as her sibling has pretty much destroyed the magical realm is her vow of non-violence. Yes, that’s right, the White Queen is a pacifist, but it wasn’t Hathaway’s idea.
“The pacifist thing was in the script,” Hathaway says. “My character has taken a vow of non-violence. She hits a bug and is like [she gets a thrill from it]. That kind of gave me the idea that 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 it”s kind of her default setting. I”m like, ‘I don”t want her to be in charge, so I guess I have to be in charge.'”
Hathaway’s exploration of the character made her a vegan, she imagined her jumping into mosh pits and she must like Blondie for no other reason than she’s blonde herself (and Hathaway is a fan — no, we don’t get this one either). In all seriousness though, Hathaway also wanted the White Queen to have a regal aura around her, so she studied Greta Garbo films for inspiration.
“I watched a lot of her silent films because I still think no one has ever quite moved on film the way she did,” Hathaway says of the screen icon. “I mean, her whole body just looks like it”s breathing. And it was a time where acting was very stylized to kind of be very over the top and she”s utterly real in it.”
And while not all critics are overjoyed with Burton’s interpretation of the Lewis Carroll classic, the filmmaker has a new fan in the “Get Smart” star.
“I’m fond of saying that I would have played a mushroom in this if that”s the way he saw me in it. So, I would have happily donned my green onesie and been up in stilts,” Hathaway says. “I would have just done anything to be in ‘Wonderland.'”
“Alice in Wonderland” opens nationwide in Disney 3-D and IMAX 3-D on Friday. Find out more info on the movie as well as tickets and showtimes here.