I was invited on an all expense paid trip by Disney to attend the Alice Through The Looking Glass Press Junket for an exclusive interview with Producer Suzanne Todd.
Sitting down for an interview with Producer Suzanne Todd of Alice Through The Looking Glass was a great honor. Suzanne owns Team Todd, a film production company and has produced hits for nearly every major studio. Suzanne also produced Disney’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010 which grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office and won two Academy Awards – for Best Achievement in Art Direction and for Costume Design and won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie, among many other award nominations.
I’ll start this off by telling you exactly how amazing and down to earth Producer Suzanne Todd really is. As she walked into the room to sit down for the interview with 25 of us bloggers, she was carrying a box. A really cool box containing a pair of shoes made in honor of Alice in Wonderland. And here is what happened next as she explained the back story on the shoes in her hand…
Suzanne: Okay, so the collection for a regular choice for Alice sold out immediately in 10 minutes. There were lines on Regent Street in London five hours long. There are I think 12 different styles. This one that I got, I’ve only worn these twice. I brought them in the box so you could see how beautiful it looks, like the story book, right? So the detail is fantastic. They only get better and better because even the little tissue paper has amazing Alice characters on it, inside amazing Alice fabric pattern. Little Alice underneath, and each of them has a different design on the bottom.
And then someone asked Suzanne if she was going to be wearing the Alice shoes to the premiere screening of Alice Through The Looking Glass that evening. And that’s when things got really AMAZING.
Suzanne: I am not wearing them tonight, and I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why I am not wearing them tonight, because you guys are all really good, obviously at this internet Tweeting , Twittering, blogging, which I am not so much. You know, I spent 30 years making movies and I’m sort of new to all of this. I posted last week about a really good friend, Maria Shriver who turns 60 this year, and of course instead of asking for a birthday present, because she is a Shriver and, you know, they have a life time of service, she said please just help me with my charity that’s coming up instead of buying me a birthday present. So I said I would help her with her fundraiser, which was this past weekend that was called Move for Minds. It was raising money for Alzheimer’s. She lost a parent to Alzheimer’s. And I had posted, but I’ve never done this before, ’cause again I’m not like you guys way out there in the thing, and I posted for people to support the fundraiser, which I just thought maybe someone will. And all of my friends did, which was so nice. And there was one person that actually donated who I’ve never met, which I thought was so amazing, and she wrote that it was in honor of her grandma, which was so touching, but I think she’s here.
And alas she was….it was Keri, from She Saved, who said “it’s me.”, very quietly and humbly.
Suzanne: It’s you. So I am giving you this (and she gave her the Alice Shoes!) Yes, I am. These are for you. I don’t know what size you are, but I want you to have them. I hope you’re close to like a 9. I’m giving you my special shoes. I was really, really touched that you donated in honor of your grandma. We did the event on Saturday. We raised tons of money for Alzheimer’s research, and I learned so much about it actually. It was a great event. So thank you so much.
And just like that Suzanne melted the hearts of 25 bloggers with her kind heart and soul. And with the shoes out of the way we were ready for our interview, but really, how do you even top that?
Interview with Producer Suzanne Todd
Alice in Wonderland vs Alice Through The Looking Glass…which was tougher to put together?
In a way I think maybe (Through The Looking Glass) was harder because the response to the first film was so kind of unexpected and overwhelming. So there’s all this pressure, you want to do something always with movies that will be commercially viable because that’s why you get to make more movies, but you also want to do something that says something that’s important to you. You don’t want to do those movies that you’re just kind of doing because you need to, if you don’t have to.The older I get, the less I want to ever do a movie that doesn't feed my soul #ThroughTheLookingGlassEvent Click To Tweet
We built big sets on the second one, and getting the cast together was much harder on the second one because they’ve all continued to have flourishing, amazing careers and have won an Oscar since then and how they’ve done so many amazing things and Johnny’s always working. Normally when you’re casting a movie, you go through the script and you make lists of the characters, and then there’s about 20 actors on a list, and you go one by one and you offer it to them. You go to Brad Pitt and say Brad Pitt, do you want to do it? And he says so, and so then you go to George Clooney and say do you want to do it? And you kind of work your way through the process. On the first movie, the really interesting thing about the casting process, because it was Tim Burton, Tim literally just picked the people he wanted, and called them. And every single person said yes. There was one character where he picked somebody and she said yes, and then she had dates issues and so then we had moved on to somebody else, but everybody wanted to do it ’cause they just wanted to obviously like work with Tim and they loved the script. So the second time, obviously, we knew who most of the actors were going to be, but scheduling was very difficult. It’s all like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle.
On motherhood and being a single mom…
I’m learning every day just like the rest of you. I definitely sweat the small stuff less and I feel like in my old life, I definitely sweated it more. And maybe that’s just because I don’t have time for it, or the energy for it. Situations, people, things that bring drama and conflict and aren’t productive moving forward, are things I really stay away from or avoid or I will cross the street to get away from.
And that’s very different for me than I was probably 10 years ago or 15 years ago. I’m very, very focused on what I think will be a positive outcome, and it’s something I actually talk about a lot with my kids and stuff that comes up for them, because I always think the best advice I can ever give myself is the advice I tell my kids. I’m much better at telling my kids what to do usually than I am at telling myself. So if I pause and think about what I would tell them, then I usually do a better job. That idea of trying to avoid the stuff that actually isn’t helping you get where you need to go, including sometimes your own thought process about it like having like negative thoughts inside or telling yourself that something is harder than it really is. Focusing on what you really need and just being brutal about it. Also a little bit of learning to say no.I can just enjoy my life with my kids rather than just trying to be this unobtainable, perfect mom. Click To Tweet
Two of Suzanne’s children are teenagers and finding balance being a working mother can be difficult. She has full custody of her children and one thing she’s learned over the years, which I myself do as often as possible, is that as important as family time is, it is equally as important that each child receives individual one on one time with their parent(s). Whether it’s going to the supermarket or taking a walk down the street, each child needs some undivided attention from their parent(s).
On being a woman in a man’s film world…
It’s just part of working in Hollywood. Unfortunately you look at these dismal numbers of female directors and female producers. And I’ve been doing it literally 30 years now, and it hasn’t really changed very much. I wish that it had changed more. I mean, it’s certainly taken smalls forward, but it’s not like it’s hugely different. It is very difficult. It’s harder as a woman.
On which story line really touched her heart…
There is something about that sister story line (White Queen/Red Queen) because I have two sisters, that’s very special for me. And when you look at the young White Queen, the idea that, she’s not a bad person. I think all of us, you know, my kids for sure have behaved that way. I behaved that way when I was a kid. When you just make a mistake, she just did the wrong thing and in the moment, you feel like you’re on the spot and she said the wrong thing. And then when you see in the movie the trajectory of everything that happened because of that. I love that scene at the end where they have a little tiny bit of reconciliation…although we’ll see how long that lasts, if we make another movie.It's a waste of time to look back, because you can't go back, but you can learn from the past. Click To Tweet
On what it was like working with Sacha Baron Cohen…
Sasha talked about how when he’s developing his character, that the costume is really, really important for him. Sasha played so many interesting characters before that there was certain things he wanted to stay away from. Like he didn’t want to do anything he had done before, so then it was kind of this process of elimination, but the one thing he really, really wanted to do was wear tights. Which I thought was so funny, and I didn’t totally understand it, but I went to the first costume fitting and I saw him in the tights. And it was like, of course, because his legs are ridiculous. He has like two spider legs where literally his thigh is the same size as his ankle, which if you look closely in the movie, you’ll see, but I love that Sasha understood the ridiculousness, the skinniness of his legs, and that’s why he wanted those little pantaloons with the tights. And then under that big hat he has a man bun.
And then at one point, we had discovered this really funny Instagram feed that’s called Man Buns of Disneyland. So its only pictures of dudes with man buns at Disneyland. And we were joking leading up to the movie that we kept saying we wanted to get some Sasha pictures put together like he was at Disneyland, so that Time could be in Man Buns of Disneyland, because we love that feed.
On what it was like working with Johnny Depp…
With Johnny, obviously we weren’t like inventing a new character, but it was so, so amazing. It wasn’t something I was thinking about the first day that Johnny was working and he came and had gone through the makeup and the wig and the contacts and everything. And we were doing a scene and I just remember the first time he opened his mouth and spoke, I got tears in my eyes, because it was like seeing the Hatter again. It had been so many years in between, and as you guys saw in the movie, Johnny is so gifted and brings vulnerability to the Hatter, even behind all of the craziness. He’s such a talented actor, it was like seeing an old friend that I hadn’t seen for so long.
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is now playing in theatres everywhere.
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