EXCLUSIVE: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland INTERVIEWS: Alice and Her Love
By: Lynn Barker
In this Spin-off series from the popular “Once Upon a Time” we’ll follow the adventures of Alice, both in Victorian England and down the rabbit hole in the mystical Wonderland. The show is dark and yet quite fun with all your fave characters, The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and more. This time, Alice is 20-something and not around 12 as depicted in the early books.
Actress Sophie Lowe is originally from England but moved to Australia when she was 10. She loves shooting the series in Vancouver but misses her family. We talked with her earlier this year in Pasadena, California.
Alice (Sophie) arriving in Wonderland
Kidzworld: What do you hope girls especially will get from watching you as Alice?
- Sophie: I just wanted, in general to (tell them) to follow what you love, or someone you love or a thing you love, to go out there and get it because you can.
Kidzworld: Could you talk about Alice’s relationship with the genie Cyrus, like when she meets him and what’s happening now? We know she’s searching for him.
- Sophie: I can’t tell you yet how they met. It’s a secret but, as soon as they meet it’s an instant connection and they kind of complete each other. There are things in each other that they are missing until they come together. They have a very deep love and, hopefully, they’ll find each other.
Alice and her dreamy genie Cyrus
Kidzworld: Alice is in a kind of mental asylum in the first episode. We assume because nobody believes her that Wonderland exists. She then goes back to Wonderland. Will we go back to the asylum again to tell her story?
- Sophie: I think we’ll venture back to Victorian England for sure and learn more about her past, how she got into the asylum in the first place. We’ll definitely explore that more. She’s a different person in those times and that place than when she’s in Wonderland. No one believes her but in Wonderland, this whole, more confident person comes out. So it’s like playing two characters for me.
Alice in Victorian England
Kidzworld: Was it a learning experience for you working with special effects against a green screen?
- Sophie: I’d never done it before. I was frequently saying “Okay, so what am I looking at?” “So this stick is a rabbit? Okay”. There was this green stick that I had to pretend was the white rabbit. It was funny but I’m kind of getting used to it now. They have really amazing visuals on set to show you to get you in the mood of the scene. Then they show you on computer kind of how it will look. That helps a lot.
The strange white rabbit
Kidzworld: What kind of character relationship does Alice have with The Knave of Hearts?
- Sophie: The Knave of Hearts, it will be revealed how they became so close as friends but I was excited to have this male/female relationship as friends. I think that’s important to show. He’s heaps of fun. She’s got her love (the Genie) and Knave is a friend.
The Knave of Hearts worries about Alice
Kidzworld: If your character could cross over and be with a character on the “Once Upon a Time” parent series, which would it be?
- Sophie: Hummm, there are so many cool characters. I really look up to them as actors and love the show so any of them would be great. If Barbara Hershey (who plays Cora) showed up that would be great.
Kidzworld: What has been the most surprising thing about playing Alice and getting this role?
- Sophie: I’ve only done films before and become close (to the cast) then, boom! You are gone and in the outside world. It’s exciting for me because I’ll have a new family for a long time and I’m sure we’ll become really close for a while. It’s long hours but I can’t complain.
Alice on a toadstool
Kidzworld: So had you read about Alice when you were little or did you see the old Disney movie?
- Sophie: Yeah, and I’ve seen the Disney movie many times. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted to be Alice! “Alice in Wonderland” was like my mom’s only book growing up. They lived in a tough town and didn’t have much money and that was her book.
Kidzworld: Have you done anything with the Cheshire Cat yet?
- Sophie: No. They still have to cast his voice but that’s one of my favorite characters. I love cats. I have my cat Freckles at home.
The Cheshire Cat
Kidzworld: Have you had to do any fight training for the action scenes?
- Sophie: I had a bit of training here and there but I just kind of went for it. I come from a dancing background and I used to do gymnastics and trapeze and trampoline so I felt comfortable throwing myself around. I have a scene coming up with a sword and I’ll have to train for that.
Kidzworld: Is there anything you wish the writers would come up with for Alice to do?
- Sophie: I wish she could fly. That would be fun.
Kidzworld: Is Alice like young 20’s in the series?
- Sophie: Yeah, she’s becoming a young woman just like I am so I’m trying to use my own experiences to play her to make her really truthful.
Alice refuses to say Wonderland isn't real
Kidzworld: Who is the jokester on the set? Every set seems to have one.
- Sophie: Oh, my gosh Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts) is so hilarious. He’s so funny and Naveen Andrews (Jafar) is also hilarious and so nice.
Michael Socha as Knave of Hearts (in street clothes)
Kidzworld: Why do you think the Alice in Wonderland story just lives throughout the years?
- Sophie: It has such a great sense of adventure and everyone makes up their own Wonderland in their head to escape. I think people wish there was somewhere like that to just go crazy and do weird stuff in.
So what about Alice’s love Cyrus, a genie she meets in Wonderland and must try to find and re-connect with?
Cute actor Peter Gadiot was in some commercials directed by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. This is the first time you’ve seen him on American TV but he was in “Fresh Meat” and “My Spy Family” on Brit TV and MTV;s “Hot Mess”. What does he think of his role as Alice’s genie love?
Kidzworld: Before this, what was your impression of a genie? What came into your head when you got the part? Like Robin Williams in Disney’s “Aladdin”?
- Peter: (laughs) It was a different thing. Their idea of the character was having him be very soulful and mysterious, having a dark past. We’ve only seen one side of Cyrus when he’s with Alice when he has this romantic, good side. But what we’ll see throughout the serious is that Cyrus is very troubled, he’s darker. He’s not just this romantic, charming guy always. Being with Alice gives him that other side.
Peter as Cyrus
Kidzworld: How does this story get revealed? Does the series go back into his past a lot?
- Peter: It goes back and forth a lot. There isn’t a linear line. Alice and I see each other, meet each other, get broken apart then you’ll see a lot of flashbacks to our love story. Lots of surprises.
Kidzworld: What do you like about your Cyrus character?
- Peter: What I like about Cyrus is basically there is a good-guy essence who can kick (butt) as well. We will see that Alice’s abilities (to kick butt) are taught to her by Cyrus. She’s this normal girl who comes to Wonderland and it’s a dangerous place and Cyrus knows that so you’re gonna see this sequence where I teach her how to fight. He’s got everything; darkness, sadness, romance and a warrior ability to him.
Genie Cyrus gets the point
Kidzworld: What is he trying to control, his darkness? How did he get in the bottle anyway?
- Peter: How does a genie become a genie? As far as I’m aware, a genie was a human then through a magical curse, they transform and get shackled to become a genie. I don’t know the answer to how he got there yet. That’s in his backstory. Was he a bad boy who got punished and is now serving penance? Has he changed? But I do know that he’s not just sitting there, this charming guy waiting for his love. No. He’s dark and angry.
The weird caterpillar
Kidzworld: How important is Alice to him?
- Peter: I think what's most important is this love that he finds. He’s a genie, but what he discovers with Alice is love, and that's what he seeks and reaches for and ultimately, he has to fight to maintain.
Cyrus and Alice think about a leap
Check out “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” on ABC TV starting October 10th!
A poster for Once Upon A Time In Wonderland