Alice Through The Looking Glass - Sacha Baron Cohen and James Bobin interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
SACHA Baron Cohen and James Bobin talk about some of the challenges of bringing Alice Through The Looking Glass to the big screen.
The former talks about his take on the role of Time and how he arrived at the accent, while Bobin talks about his approach to directing the film and how he collaborated with Tim Burton. They were speaking at a UK press conference…
Q. Time is a big theme of this film and it has a very strong female character in the lead. Was that something that appealed when you read the script?
James Bobin: Yes, Lewis Carroll was always very keen to make sure that everyone understood that Alice was part of this new generation of women who were very different to their predecessors. Alice’s generation grew up to be suffragettes. They changed the world.
Q. Time is quite a complex character. We never know if he is the good guy or the bad guy. Did you have fun bringing that to life?
Sacha Baron Cohen: This guy kept bullying me [gestures towards Johnny Depp]. I had elastic bands thrown at me. He had his security team hound me and pin me down. I was, I think the term is wedgied. I was overwhelmed. But I still haven’t answered the question, have I?
Q. Time is complex…
Sacha Baron Cohen: Time is complex. I wanted to wear tights in the movie because I have sort of ladies legs. So, it was very important for me to have a ‘tighted’ character. Also, I tried to create this character who was immature, incredibly narcissistic and ill-suited for the most important job in the world… so a bit like Donald Trump!
Q. James, how did you collaborate with Tim Burton?
James Bobin: I remember going to see Tim from the very outset in Vancouver, and he gave me a warning saying how very hard it was [laughs]! His main advice was ‘don’t shoot on green [screen] because it drives you completely crazy!’ So, I didn’t do that and it proved incredibly helpful. But he was happy for me to create my own world within the parameters of the world he had created with Alice In Wonderland. So, in terms of character design and theatre design, he was very helpful. And, of course, script stuff. And of course, Tim lives here in London, and we shot in London too, so that was very helpful in terms of being able to keep in contact.
Q. James, if you could choose three people dead or alive to invite to a Mad Hatter’s tea party, who would they be?
James Bobin: Oscar Wilde. Charles Dickens. It’s very high brow. And Charlie Chaplin.
Q. Sacha, how did you arrive at your accent?
Sacha Baron Cohen: He’s slightly Bavarian… I don’t know. Bavaria by way of California. [Puts on the accent] He has that kind of overly pompous, very emphatic way of talking, where everything seems very crucial even though it can be complete nonsense.
Q. James, do you think there’s an accurate and fair representation of lesbian and gay characters in Disney movies to teach the next generation about the ever-changing world that we all live in?
James Bobin: That’s a jolly good question! Um, I think so. I think it’s something that everyone is aware of these days because it’s part of the world we live in. So, when you make a film these days you can’t help but put that into them anyway. So, if you were to ask how did I update Lewis Carroll, I just did what I thought was interesting and important. But certainly, it’s something that people are always very aware of.