Hot wonderland darling

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You never know what Tim Burton will pull out of the rabbit hole next. And with his remake of Lewis Carroll’s classic ‘Alice In Wonderland’ set to be curiouser and curiouser than ever before, one of his most surprising choices was casting the relatively unknown Australian actress Mia Wasikowska (pronounced Vash-i-kov-ska) in the title role. Her Polish features and elfin locks may have helped captured the innocence of Alice but for Burton, who is known for his longstanding collaborations across projects, the choice rested on Mia’s emotional intensity. Burton told “It’s just a simple kind of power to her that we really liked. Not flamboyant, not very showy, but just somebody that’s got a lot of internal life to her. That’s why I picked her.”

Despite her youth, 20-year-old Mia has had her fair share of onscreen turmoil. Canberra born and bred, Mia started out acting in small Australian features and short films before beginning to find work across the Pacific. She has played an aspiring Olympic gymnast whose career hopes are hindered by alleged self-sabotage in the HBO series ‘In Treatment,’ earning her critical acclaim in the US. She went on to land supporting roles in feature film, working alongside Daniel Craig in World War II drama ‘Defiance’ as a Polish Holocaust refugee, and playing a rival aviatrix to Hilary Swank’s Amelia Earhart in the 2009 biopic ‘Amelia’. Her latest project is indie film ‘The Kids Are All Right’, in which she plays the daughter of a same sex couple.

In ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Mia is a late teen Alice who, excusing herself from a Victorian society party, stumbles across a rabbit hole and falls into a Wonderland that is, under Burton’s direction, darker and more sinister than in previous versions. Binding all of the assorted events that make up Alice’s adventures is this one actress who provides certain gravity to a story rooted in nonsense.

Before she started to run into all sorts of trouble in Wonderland, Mia took her first steps in ballet, training professionally until she decided to change course and pursue acting. “I used to study dance very intensely, but when I was 14 I started not to enjoy it,” she told Vogue Australia. “It was all about perfection. What I like about acting is that it’s about life, which is all about imperfection.”

Seen through the looking glass, however, Mi’s future is crystal clear.

‘Alice In Wonderland’ is out now on DVD.