Queuers wonder ‘could it be me?’

Hundreds of hopefuls braved the rain and queued for hours in the hope of becoming an extra in a new Disney blockbuster.

The remake of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland will be directed by Tim Burton and possibly star Hollywood A-lister Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

Scenes will be shot in and around Plymouth next month and the casting company are auditioning for 250 extras.

First to arrive in the queue at 0200 BST was Andrew Lessiter from Plymouth.

The 25-year-old musician and actor came prepared with chair, books sandwiches and juice.

He said that as soon as he heard who was directing the film, he was determined to audition.

"I'm a real film buff and just to be involved in any way in a Tim Burton film would be a huge honour," he said.

By the time the casting agents opened the doors of the New Continental Hotel at 1000 BST, the queue of people aged from 16 to 70 plus, snaked around the hotel, past the nearby Pavilion leisure centre and halfway down the city's Union Street.


The would-be actors included school leavers, drama students, engineers, grandmothers, decorators, shop assistants and at least one full-time storytelling actor and musician.

Nik Brookson from Plymouth, who arrived at the New Continental suitably in a Victorian/Regency outfit, is hopeful his prepared audition piece will help him get a part.

"Alice in Wonderland was my favourite childhood story and the audition piece I always use comes from it – it's the Jabberwocky poem," the 48-year-old storyteller said.

Meanwhile 28-year-old phlebotomist Claire Trigger from Plymouth said an extra's part would give her good experience before beginning her drama course at Marjohn's college in September.

"I just love acting and would prepared to be anything at all in the film," she said.

"I'd make a good card, but I'd even lay on the floor and play a dead rabbit if they asked me.

"It's my dream and it's as simple as that."

Casting director Ilenka Jelowicki said she was overwhelmed by the turnout in Plymouth.


She said extras make a big impact to films, but the work is not easy.

"When you get local people involved, they really give a lot of effort to the picture and their enthusiasm really counts," she said.

"But it can be a long day being on set for 12 to 14 hours a day."

The Mad Dog casting director said they were looking for women with long, natural-coloured hair and men with "lambchop whiskers" to fit the Victorian setting.

Disney will be filming in and around Plymouth for two weeks, although the exact locations are not yet known.

The historic cobbled streets of the city's Barbican area fit in with Lewis Carrol's Victorian tale, which was written in 1865.

Further auditions will take place at the New Continental Hotel on Thursday.

The animated version of Alice in Wonderland was made by Walt Disney in 1951.

The new version, a mix of live action and special effects, is due to be released in 2010.

Johnny Depp has not yet been confirmed in the role of the Mad Hatter, but director Tim Burton has previously directed him in seven films, including Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, most recently, Sweeney Todd.


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