This exclusive interview with Producer Suzanne Todd about her new movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, was part of the #ThroughTheLookingGlassEvent press trip with Disney. All travel, accommodations, and activities were provided by Disney, but all thoughts are my own. All interview photos are courtesy of Jana Seitzer / https://whiskynsunshine.com. Amazon affiliate links used in this post.
I had heard all about Suzanne Todd’s famous Alice in Wonderland shoes from my friends who had attended Disney Social Media Moms in Florida just a few weeks before our interview. So it wasn’t too surprising that The Shoes were the first thing that we asked Suzanne about when she walked in to the room. Even before she had a chance to sit down, she held up a fancy box and started talking about her blue sparkly Alice shoes. (You can buy them here!)
Since she didn’t come to the interview wearing the shoes, we all thought that she’d surely wear them at the red carpet premiere that night. When asked about them, she said, “I am not wearing them tonight, and I’ll tell you why…” She then proceeded to tell us a story that left most of the room with their jaws on the floor.
Suzanne began, “I posted last week something about a really good friend, Maria Shriver, who turns 60 this year, and instead of asking for a birthday present, she said please just help me with my charity thing that’s coming up. So I said I would help her with her fundraiser, Move for Minds, raising money for Alzheimers. She lost a parent to Alzheimers. I’ve never done this before, ’cause I’m not like you guys way out there in the (blogging, tweeting, social media) thing, but I posted for people to support the fundraiser. I just though oh, maybe someone will donate. 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. I think she’s here”
And then my sweet friend, Keri Lyn from SheSaved.com piped up, “It’s me.”
Suzanne continued, “It’s you. So I am giving you this. These are for you.”
Amazingly, Suzanne and Keri Lyn both wear a size 9. And later that evening, Keri Lyn wore those beautiful Alice shoes to the premiere. She was my red carpet buddy, and I can’t tell you how many people stopped her to admire or snap pictures of her shoes.
Suzanne Todd on the Themes in Alice Through the Looking Glass
When asked about her favorite themes in Alice Through the Looking Glass, Suzanne referred back to Lewis Carroll’s original stories. It has been 10 years since she started working on the first Alice in Wonderland film, so the story of Alice has been a part of her life for quite a while.
In fact, trying to stay true to Lewis Carroll’s stories and the character of Alice were at the core of making these movies, but in this movie in particular she really appreciated the focus on time, especially because of her most important role as a mother.
“The older I get, the more precious I find my time is to me. (I love that this) is a kind of ‘we girls can do anything’ movie, (especially) for my little girl who is 11 now, and also just recognizing (that) time is so precious to all of us.
“There’s a thing about technology – it was supposed to be created to give all of us more leisure time. Like remember the fax machine or a blackberry, and now you’re gonna leave work early and have extra time to spend with your kids, but really what is does in some ways is it’s turned all of us into 24 hour workers, ’cause there’s no time of the day when you can’t be doing something productive that has to do with your technology.
“It’s a balance that we all have to try and find for when we’re gonna turn it off or put it away and really sit down on the blanket and have a picnic with our kids, ’cause it doesn’t happen enough. But then when it does, I think everybody has that moment where they think oh, this is what I should be doing on a Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping people will watch the movie and have those conversation or just be in that space a little bit more because the movie inspired them to (spend more time together), so that would make me really happy.”
Suzanne’s Advice to Single Working Moms
As single mom of three kids who are with her 100% of the time whose schedule is always crazy (and probably won’t be changing any time soon), Suzanne said that she has found that “it’s important to have time for the three of them together with me, you know family time, but also to have individual time with them. I didn’t realize that in the beginning, how important it was to carve out time for each of them, because they’re all different and unique in their one way.”
Suzanne makes a busy career work by keeping everyone organized through color-coordinated Google calendars. She jokes with her kids that “it’s like a war operation of moving people around.” I know the feeling. I may not be a single mom, but the struggle to keep practices, pick ups, homework, parties, and everything else that goes on with multiple teens and tweens in one house is real.
“I’m learning every day just like the rest of you. I think however many years it is down the road for me now, I definitely – I know it sounds like an Instagram saying – but I definitely sweat the small stuff less. And maybe that’s just because I don’t have time for it, or the energy for it, but situations, people, things that bring drama and conflict and aren’t productive moving forward things, I really stay away from or avoid.”
Suzanne continued, “I’m very, very focused on what I think will be a positive outcome. I always think the best advice I can ever give myself is the advice I tell my kids, because 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, but 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…”
I have a feeling that most moms would agree that it’s much easier to tell our kids what they should be doing versus doing those things ourselves!
Suzanne Todd Discusses the Challenge of Making an Alice Sequel
According to Suzanne, the success of and the response to Alice in Wonderland (2010) was somewhat unexpected, so as they began work on Alice Through the Looking Glass, she felt a greater pressure.
“There’s all this pressure that you want to do something 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. For me with the three kids, the older I get, the less I want to ever do a movie that doesn’t feed my soul.”
There were aspects of the second movie that were both easier and more challenging than making the first movie. The sets in Alice Through the Looking Glass were much more complex and bigger than in the first movie. And because most of the actors in Alice Through the Looking Glass were the same that were in the first movie, the casting process was much less complicated, BUT getting so many talented and busy actors together at the same time was a scheduling nightmare.
Suzanne mentioned that when they cast Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton literally picked the actors he wanted in the film, called them personally on the phone, and every single person said yes.
“Everybody wanted to do it because they wanted to work with Tim and they loved the script.”
On Adding Sacha Baron Cohen to the Cast
Sacha baron Cohen was so perfect as the new character, Time. “When we’d started with (Sacha), I thought one of the funniest things was Sacha talked about how when he’s developing his character, that the costume is really, really important for him.” He talked to costume designer Colleen Atwood and said that the one thing he really, really wanted to do was wear tights.
Suzanne didn’t understand the tights until she went to the first costume fitting and saw him in the tights. “And it was like, of course, because his legs are ridiculous. He has like two spider legs where his thigh is the same size as his angle, which if you look closely in the movie, you’ll see. I love that Sacha understood the ridiculousness, the skinniness of his legs, and that’s why he wanted those little pantaloons with the tights. And then you know under that big hat, he has…we call it a man bun.”
Suzanne’s Special Connection with the Queens
Suzanne ended our interview with an interesting story about her personal connection with the Red Queen and the White Queen and their relationship. “There’s a running joke from the two movies, because I work with my younger sister who happens to have red hair, so in the first movie, there was always this sort of Red Queen, White Queen joke…not that the White Queen is the good one and Red Queen is the bad one. Although you may have thought that in the first movie, certainly in the second movie, you get to see it (change). There is something about that sister story line, because I have two sisters, that’s very special for me.
“And also, you know, when you look at the young White Queen, the idea that she’s not a bad person. I think all of us, 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.”
I really hope they do make another movie and continue to explore the relationship between the Red Queen and the White Queen, Alice and the Hatter.
Go see Alice Through the Looking Glass in theaters everywhere now!
See my other Alice Through the Looking Glass Posts:
- 10 things to love about Alice Through the Looking Glass
- Interview with Mia Wasikovska (Alice Kingsleigh)
- Alice Through the Looking Glass Red Carpet Experience
- Alice Through the Looking Glass Activity Pages and Coloring Sheets
- My announcement post!
More coming soon!
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