A Conversation with Director James Bobin on Alice Through The Looking Glass
It’s the weekend, and you probably know what I am going to ask next. Have you seen Alice Through The Looking Glass? If you haven’t, I suggest you make some time to check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Anyway back to the matter at hand, during my recent trip to LA, I sat down for a Conversation with Director James Bobin on Alice Through The Looking Glass.
He was our first interview of the day, so the energy in the room was optimistic. He came in greeted everyone, shared a joke which was well received then talked about this recent trip to England, Madrid, and New York. He was excited to share the film with the world because he had been working on it since 2013. In chatting with him, his love for Lewis Caroll can’t be missed. It was refreshing to hear him speak about his childhood and what role the book played in his life and continues to play in his life.
Director James Bobin on Alice Through The Looking Glass
On what working on the film meant to him.
I grew up in England. Alice is part of your life. It’s someone you know. It’s a part of your makeup. For me, my parents read it to me, I read it as a kid, my grandparents read it to me. Everyone has it. I did the same with my kids. We love Alice in our family. So when I found out I was doing it, I was really excited.
On coming up with the vivid and imaginative world of Alice.
When I was a kid growing up, the books were illustrated by a guy called John Tenniel. Who is an unbelievably beautiful engraver and that to me was where Alice lived. So when I was working with Dan Hennah our production designer about the world. I use to say to him, look at Tenniel’s drawing ignore the characters in the foreground and look at the world behind them that is the world I wanted to create for this.
On Sacha Cohen and introducing the character, Time.
Time, of course, is Lewis Carroll’s idea. It’s not my idea. I only borrowed it from him. Lewis Carroll talks about Time as a person in the book Alice in Wonderland.
Sweeney Todd was very much inspiration for us. When I watched that movie, I loved his character in that, and obviously, he plays with Johnny. So that feels like that would fit into this one neatly. If you’re going to work with Helena and Johnny as he has many times he kind of fits into that– into the universe already. So that was a good start because to raise your performance to match the levels of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is not easy to do.
I knew he had it in him. It was just a question of kind of working out what that guy was going to be like then we started talking about the character like we did with Borat and Bruno.
I knew Sacha, and I would have a fun time creating the new character time. Who he was, how he spoke, how he held himself. Sacha is a very physical comedian. Sacha could do pretty much anything, and we thought that Time as a concept is a kind of Swiss idea, like clockmakers, etc. and in Switzerland there are two languages, there’s French and German. And we thought German was quite precise in its language, and that was a very good thing for Time too.
On most challenging aspect of the film
For me, the story is challenging because it’s not the story of the book which I knew it would never be. I loved the book very dearly but even as a kid, I realized it’s quite an unusual story because Lewis Caroll wasn’t that concerned with narratives. He liked imagery ideas and the book kind of fall in on itself deliberately things happen, and then other things happen. It’s very consequential and not a cause and effect. I knew that for a film would make an interesting avant-garde movie, but I am not sure I could do that in this situation. I knew the story would be a new story; I knew Linda had an idea about a time travel movie based on the characters from before. I knew I wanted to pay tribute to the book, Lewis Caroll is very important to me.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is currently playing in theaters.
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Disclosure: Walt Disney Studios invited us to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, CA. However, all opinions are mine. Interview image is by Jana Seitzer / MerlotMommy