Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - Sophie Lowe
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - Alice (Sophie Lowe) ©2013 American Broadcasting Companies

When ABC’s spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premiered, Alice (Sophie Lowe), now grown up, was under medical care for being insane. Well, if you said you had fallen down a rabbit hole into a magical land, wouldn’t you be considered off-your-rocker?

Just like the network’s popular Once Upon a Time, this series incorporates fictional characters from other stories, and Alice escapes the hospital and returns to Wonderland in search of the genie she fell in love with named Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). Also in Wonderland is the evil Jafar (Naveen Andrews), borrowed from Aladdin.

Sophie Lowe and Naveen Andrews came to the TV Critics tour this summer to talk about their new fantasy.

Sophie, were you aware of Alice in Wonderland when you were growing up?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - TCA, Sophie Lowe
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – Sophie Lowe addressed the press at Summer TCAs ©2013 ABC, photo by Todd Wawrychuk

Sophie: My mom actually read it to me when I was a little girl. It was a big part of my childhood. I loved it. It’s funny as well because it’s the only book [my mom] had as a child.

It’s the only book she was allowed to read. I think that’s really strange, now I get to play [Alice] and [my mom’s] childhood is coming to life in front of her as well. So it’s a big part of our family.

Naveen, what went into your decision to return to American television and with your Lost collaborators?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - TCA, Naveen Andrews
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – Naveen Andrews addressed the press at the Summer TCAs ©2013 ABC, photo by Todd Wawrychuk

Naveen: Just after Lost I did a film with Naomi Watts called Diana (based on the love story between Princess Diana and heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan). I was playing a real person. I was kind of fixed in the 20th century.

So this was an opportunity to do something completely different, because you’re not bound by conventions of space and time.

And with a piece like this, if you have that kind of freedom, then, hopefully, you can apply that to creating a character. I just want to do stuff that’s completely different.

This has been described as the ‘most kickass Alice’ we’ve ever seen. How do you feel about that description?

Sophie: That’s spot on, actually. She’s tough, mentally and physically, and she can kick ass and look after herself.

Clearly you are dealing with massive CGI here. Is that new to you?

Sophie: I’ve never done green screen before. They have visuals on set to get you into the mood and to show you how it’s going to look and what’s going to happen. What the rabbit’s going to look like. It’s all very helpful. It’s a bit strange, but I got the hang of it.

The whole filming process, to me, is so exciting. I just want to take in the whole experience and I am enjoying every bit of it.

Do you enjoy working with a green screen?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, 102 - Naveen Andrews
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, 102 “Trust Me” – Jafar (Naveen Andrews) ©2013 American Broadcasting Companies, photo by Jeff Weddell

Naveen: I think it gives you tremendous freedom, you don’t have four walls. If an actor has an imagination, use it.

Were you at all bound by previous incarnations of Jafar, the literary ideas of him?

Naveen: In the popular imagination I know he exists almost as an icon, a sort of incarnation of evil. I think that’s fair to say.  But I think what we want to do is to present the audience with something they’ve never seen before.

There has to be ambiguity, because everyone had a childhood.

A lot of people describe going to Hollywood as being like falling through the looking glass. What was it like the first time you came to Hollywood to read for a project?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, 104 - Sophie Lowe
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, 104 “The Serpent” – Alice (Sophie Lowe) ©2013 American Broadcasting Companies

Sophie:  The first time I came to LA I was 18, and I was by myself, probably a bad idea because I didn’t know anyone. It was all scary. It’s different. But, you know, you get the hang of it. I think it takes a while to understand LA, but I feel like I get it now.

My dreams have come true, basically. I’ve wanted to play a role like this and to be in a show like this.

I’m very blessed to be a part of this family.  But, it’s a crazy roller coaster. Everything is so exciting to me.

I asked Naveen what his opinion was of the final season of Lost. Click here to listen to how he saw the final episode.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.