Mia Wasikowska On Alice, Role Models, And Being A Woman In Hollywood

ELLE's Charlotte Wainwright delves in to Wonderland


Mia Wasikowska likes scones. Particularly ones covered in lemon curd. We're at Fortnum & Mason, having cream tea to celebrate her new film 'Alice Through The Looking Glass'. The film is the sequel to Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland,' and sees Mia reprise her role as the adventurous, headstrong Alice, the character which catapulted her to Hollywood stardom in 2010.


Since then, the 26 year-old has become renowned for her portrayal of incredible women. In the 2013 film 'Tracks,' Mia landed the leading role of Robyn Davidson, the real-life explorer who undertook an epic solo trek across the Australian desert. She has taken on some inspiring literary legends, including Jane Eyre in 2011, and Madame Bovary in 2014. More recently, she has starred alongside Tom Hiddleston in the 2015 film 'Crimson Peak,' playing budding author Edith Cushing, a woman who chooses to pen thrilling ghost stories, rather than the romance novels expected of her.


Today Mia's wearing a navy dress by Tome, the perfect outfit for our extravagant tea. Though the characters she plays are bold and outspoken, Mia herself is quiet and reserved, telling us that her homebody personality sometimes gets her mistaken for being 'boring.' But whilst she may be shy on the outside, she hasn't let that stop her.

ELLE: You're attracted to powerful, female leads. How important is it to have these strong, female characters in Hollywood?

Mia Wasikowska: 'I think it's very important. Obviously we've come a long way, but there's quite a far way to go in terms of portraying women in a sophisticated and complex way. But I think the more common it is, the better.'

ELLE: How do you stay so grounded? 

MW: 'I guess, having my home - I share an apartment with my brother - and having really great, lovely friends. And just knowing that at the end of a press tour like this I can go home and be completely normal and feel really comfortable and happy in that world. It helps me feel grounded.'


ELLE: You don't seem to buy into the celebrity culture. Is that a deliberate decision? 

MW: 'Yeah, definitely. And I think it sort of helps to live in Sydney and feel like there's a certain amount of distance between the film world and my home and base, so that definitely helps.'

ELLE: Who are your role models yourself?

MW: 'My Nanna, my Mum and my sister. In films, I think Julianne Moore is wonderful. I've worked with her a few times and I just think she's got a really great balance of having a home life and then also being really good at what she does and enjoying her job.'

ELLE: Do you think you're similar to Alice? 

MW: 'I hope so. I don't know. I think she's probably cooler in some ways. Definitely in the first film I think she felt quite uncomfortable and there was a process of her finding who she was and feeling that sense of herself. I feel like the things that she goes through are similar to what I've felt at some stage in my life and that I think a lot of people, young women, feel also.'

ELLE: What's the best advice you've been given? 

MW: 'Trust your instinct. I feel like the only time I ever felt anything happened that I wish hadn't was when I ignored my instinct. So I think just knowing who you are and then trusting that what you feel is valid.'

ELLE: And how do you handle the critics?

MW: 'Just try to not read into it, or buy into it, or take it on emotionally. I mean we're all criticised at some point in our lives. Only care about the people's opinions who I really love and trust and not necessarily feel like I need to take other people's opinions on.'

ELLE: What would be your dream role?

MW: 'I don't know. I really like Jane Campion as a director. I like all the women she portrays in her films, so maybe working with her.'

ELLE: What was the last thing that truly inspired you?

MW: 'The Amy Winehouse documentary. I just thought it was really beautiful and also quite sad. It's almost like she didn't know how cool she was as an individual.' 

ELLE: What are you most proud of?

MW: 'I'm really proud of my nephew and my niece. They're five and two and they're just so sweet and lovely. I'm really proud of them.'

ELLE: How would you describe yourself in 5 words?

MW: 'Tired. Hungry. Anticipating tonight and the premiere. Open-minded. Try to be polite.'

ELLE: Which track would be the soundtrack to your life?

MW: 'At the moment we've been listening to 'Love Yourself' by Bieber, which seems to be the soundtrack of the tour. I'm very much enjoying that song.'

ELLE: What's something surprising about you?

MW: 'I don't like wearing heels.'

ELLE: What's your perfect night?

MW: 'At the moment it would just be being in bed watching Downton Abbey with my brother and my friend. If my brother would suffer through it.'

ELLE: What advice do your friends come to you for?

MW: 'Kind of the same thing I go to them for. I guess just boy stuff or work problems, stuff like that. Everything.' 

ELLE: What are you reading at the moment?

MW: 'I'm reading a book called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.'

ELLE: Complete this sentence: I'll never…

MW: 'Get home soon enough.' 

Alice Through the Looking Glass is out now

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