Interview: Maggie Grace

Simon ParkinMaggie Grace - best known for her appearances in Taken and the TV blockbuster Lost - is usually seen on glitzy Hollywood sets, so it was something of a surprise to see her filming in Great Yarmouth.Simon Parkin

Maggie Grace - best known for her appearances in Taken and the TV blockbuster Lost - is usually seen on glitzy Hollywood sets, so it was something of a surprise to see her filming in Great Yarmouth.

The American actress was starring alongside a host of British actors - including Danny Dyer, Paul Kaye and Matt King - in Malice in Wonderland.

A visually arresting and deeply disturbing thriller, loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, Maggie plays Alice, an American law student who is knocked down by a black cab on a deserted London street. But that is just the start of her problems.

Miles from home and relentlessly pursued by a shadowy group intent on taking her captive, she begins a dark and dangerous journey through a violent underworld full of gangsters, geezers, pimps and prostitutes, with only enigmatic cab driver Whitey (Danny Dyer) to guide her.

t Malice in Wonderland was filmed in Yarmouth what was that like?

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I felt we were very lucky to get the locations we got. Normally, you can't walk into a town and take over and have people receive you with open arms. The people of Great Yarmouth were really open-minded; it was very exciting. If you try to shoot in New York or LA, people are like: 'I don't care how much you pay me, you can't make that much noise. Get out of my neighbourhood!. In Yarmouth the people were really cool and were like 'How can we help?' So that was great. To get a whole pier and a circus and have them emptied out for us was totally amazing. It's a bit of a surreal place so it was great for us.

t Would I be right in thinking Malice in Wonderland is a loose updating of Alice in Wonderland?

It's surprising that the Alice in Wonderland story hasn't been updated before now - it's such a rich story. I think what they've done with it in this version is really cool. It's such a neat script. What really attracted me to the movie is that it's so different. It's got this cast of crazy characters and I thought how great that it's shooting so close to London, because there are so many amazing character actors who are based there. We got really cool people who were happy to come in and do some colourful cameos.

t What's this Alice like?

She's an American law student who is obliged to go to London. She's struck by a taxi and that's how she goes down the rabbit hole as it were. She's a bit of a departure form the original but some of the themes remain. Alice struggles to find meaning in a meaningless world. She's still sorting it all out as she goes along but she's not trying to impose Victorian morals on the characters, unlike in the original. That's for sure.

t What about the other Alice in Wonderland characters?

All the familiar cast of characters are present and correct. My personal favourite is Caterpillar. He's a drug dealing, rhyming, really loveable character played by Paul Kaye - who is wonderful. He created this character with a weird laugh and he's always trailing this cloud of smoke behind him which, in the book, is opium.

t And Danny Dyer plays the White Rabbit?

Working with Danny was a lot of fun. He's quite the character himself and this is a great role for him. He's a very frenetic White Rabbit, sort of a fly by night, man about town, self-styled drug dealer except that he's not really a drug dealer. He just nicks prescriptions on his downtime and also drives a cab. He's quite the character!

t What was it like working with a British cast?

It was great. We had a lot of fun. But I have to watch my accent. I'm terrified I'm gonna pull a Gwyneth or a Madonna and go home with a little bit of a British accent! My friends wouldn't let me get away with it. I picked up some Cockney from Danny [Dyer] as well, but a lot of it is Greek to me. 'Dog and bone' - phone. I get that, but 'Haddock' meaning car? 'Haddock and Bloater' means 'motor' but we don't use 'motor' for car. I dunno, I tried to riff and make up my own.

t How was it different to the States?

I found working here that everyone is so polite. Everyone apologises and says 'please' and 'thank you' - it's very British. Filming in Yarmouth, the people there were really open-minded and helpful. It was a real change from the States where the locals aren't always as accommodating.

t Were you happy with the finished film?

What I liked about this movie is that it straddles a number of different genres, a bit like Lost does. It was a bit fantasmagoric but was also a medical drama - Lost had everything all thrown in together. When you mix genres like that, there's less of a risk that you're making the same thing over again and you help widen your audience.

t Malice in Wonderland is released on DVD on January 8.