The Mad Hatter, as portrayed by Johnny Depp in the film "Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland," is different from any other Mad Hatter seen on screen. He is far from the hatter from Lewis Carroll's beloved books. It requires more than just the costume to become the Mad Hatter as invented by Depp. He incorporated his own ideas and personality quirks to create a new vision of the crazy character that helps young Alice as she travels through Wonderland. When becoming Depp's Mad Hatter, the costume and the personality are necessities.
You need plenty of makeup for the Mad Hatter look. The Mad Hatter's entire face is white. The eyes look almost bruised underneath, but have bright blue eyeshadow on the eyelids. Use white mascara for the lashes, and wear neon green contact lenses. Paint the lips a light pink, and don't forget the small gap between the front teeth. Surrounding the painted face is unruly orange hair. The hair must be sticking out from all sides, from beneath the hat, and have a little wave to it. Mad Hatter's eyebrows are also long, wavy and very orange. Use glue-on eyebrows to achieve the right look.
The Mad Hatter costume has several different colors, textures and designs. The jacket should be made of felt and either brown or blue. Wear a vest beneath the coat in a color that contrasts with the jacket, and have a long-sleeved shirt beneath the vest with lace around the wrists. Depp wears a giant bow tie with bright colored flowers. The bigger the bow tie, the better. The pants should be another different color, and the pant legs should end just below the knees. Wear stockings that are two different colors, with different designs or different sized stripes. During the battle in "Alice in Wonderland," the Mad Hatter wore a kilt. Carry a sword when wearing the kilt, but otherwise carry a teacup and saucer.
The hat will define the look. Most people recognize the Mad Hatter because of this accessory. The should be tall and is usually made of felt. Wrap layers of wide ribbon around the hat. Sticking out of the ribbon must be the 10/6 price tag. Depp's Mad Hatter also had a peacock feather sticking out from the other side of the hat and several giant hat pins. Alice travels on the hat in the movie. If you can find a small Alice doll, pin her to the hat, too.
When playing the Mad Hatter, it is important to act crazy, but it must be Depp's version of crazy. Watch the movie and learn the character's mannerisms and personality. Stare off into nothing like the Hatter does in the movie, and then let out a nervous -- and loud -- giggle. Really impress people by learning to do the Futterwacken, the dance that the hatter is known for performing better than anyone else in Wonderland. Remember to ask why a raven is like a writing desk, and to think of words that begin with "M."
According to an article in the "Los Angeles Times," Depp based his version of Mad Hatter on history. Mercury, a dangerous chemical, was used in making felt during Carroll's time. The chemical was absorbed through the skin and entered the bloodstream. It was known to color the skin, and hair, of hatters. The color was a bright orange. Also, mercury starts with the letter "M." Depp decided that the Mad Hatter went crazy from the mercury poisoning.
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