A Sweeney Todd reunion is brewing. We already knew Johnny Depp would return to play The Mad Hatter in a sequel to Disney’s billion-dollar smash hit Alice in Wonderland, and that The Muppets director James Bobin would replace Tim Burton behind the camera. Now Variety reports that Sacha Baron Cohen, who starred opposite Depp in Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, will play the villain role in the Alice sequel, which has been titled Through the Looking Glass.
The film’s plot is being kept under wraps at this point, along with details about Cohen’s character. Mia Wasikowska is reprising her role as Alice, and screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who wrote the 2010 hit) has been hired to write the screenplay for this one as well. It’s hard to get excited about, well, any of this news whatsoever, especially since it’s clear Depp’s working relationship with Burton has taken a creative nosedive in recent years. Not that I want this outcome to happen, but I can easily see Cohen becoming a spiritual protege of sorts to Depp, ditching his own creative ideas in favor of playing larger than life goofball characters in franchises specifically formulated to make big money.
I’d like to think Cohen has more drive than that at this stage in his career. Scorsese gave him an opportunity to play a legitimate character in Hugo (not just a guy who makes funny faces or speaks with a strange accent), and my hope is that in the projects that Cohen doesn’t writer or direct, his career starts leaning more in that direction than jumping into projects like this Alice sequel. Let’s hope this isn’t the beginning of a downward spiral of creativity for the man, since – say what you will about him – he’s one of the most interesting comic voices working in Hollywood today.
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