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Even with his famously wild imagination, Lewis Carroll could never have imagined how far his most famous character would venture after she tumbled down the rabbit hole.
Alice is re imagined as a young woman thrust into an underground world called Wonderland in the TV miniseries Alice, which wrapped shooting at Tranquille on Friday. About 100 cast and crew have been working on the set for the past week.
“The thing that has been so great for us is Tranquille,” said executive producer Matthew O’Connor. “It will give us a really interesting look for Wonderland.”
This tale is not like the Wonderland Carroll created 150 years ago. Alice finds that her lover Jack has been abducted by a secret organization called the White Rabbit. In pursuit, she tumbles down an abandoned mine shaft into the other world.
The dilapidated remains of the former mental health institution have provided an ideal location around which the Canadian/UK production can digitally build a post modern dystopia, O’Connor explained.
“We’re applying a lot of CGI (computer generated imagery) for what we’re doing, so the city (Wonderland) will look impossibly tall with walkways around it.”
Alice Hamilton, played by Canadian actor Caterina Scorsone (Starz TV’s Crash), is drawn from the storybook and the plot has loose references to the original, but this drama is firmly set in the genre of fantasy science fiction. That series was nominated for nine Emmy’s, O’Connor noted.
Well known actors Kathy Bates (Delores Clayburn, Titanic) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) also star in the show but will have only brief appearances in Vancouver.
Meaney plays the King of Hearts. Bates plays The Queen of Hearts, who runs a gigantic casino patrolled by men in suits of the White Rabbit. People are brought to the casino to gamble and win. Their excitement is bottled as Wonderland’s powerful currency, positive human emotions being the queen’s source of power.
In midday heat Friday, Scorsone didn’t need any of the elixir. An umbrella and repeated applications of sunscreen helped to protect her fair skin.
“She’s a really dynamic character and it’s fun to be playing an iconic character of literature,” said Scorsone, clad in a blue dress with red nylons and ankle boots. The boots may have been a precaution.
“I thought I heard a rattle,” she shouted between takes. “Is that possible?”
don’t go in the direction of the rattle,” a crew member shot back.
Andrew Lee Potts (Band of Brothers. Primeval), the British actor who plays the Hatter was equally enthused about the production.
“We fly through the air on a flamingo, which is going to be interesting,” Potts said. “You need to tell a real story. You kind of feel (the audience) deserves something like that.
“And I’m not that mad,” he added.
Like most productions shooting in the region, this one hired local crew members. Gina Marks, production assistant, is one of them.
“We’re really lucky,” she said of a season that has so far delivered to mid sized productions. Along with 20th Century Fox’s Flica 2, shot here in May, another feature film is scouting TNRD turf, this one a big budget production in the order of $200 million.
Tranquille, which has had a colourful and checkered history of its own, is building a new history as a cinematic backdrop. Films shot there in the past include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), Firewall (2005) and Afghan Knights (2007).
A roughly $10 million production, Alice slated for another 10 weeks of shooting in Vancouver before post production begins in London, England. The miniseries is being shopped around to cable and the networks but may have a theatrical release,