Tim Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Alice in Wonderland, boasts a colorful cast of whimsical characters. Among them are the curious and mischievous duo, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. These identical twins are often seen reciting nonsensical rhymes and engaging in playful banter with Alice as she navigates the fantastical world of Wonderland. While their true purpose in the story may remain a mystery to some, there is no denying that these lovable characters add an extra layer of charm to an already enchanting tale.
Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale features many whimsical characters, but who exactly are Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland? The names Tweedledee and Tweedledum were first used in a satirical poem penned by English poet John Byrom in the 1700s, which mocked classical composer George Frideric Handel and his contemporary Giovanni Bononcini. The poem highlighted how despite their constant bickering, the two musicians were quite similar. These characters also appeared in several rhymes over the years but it was Carroll’s book that made them truly famous.
In Through the Looking Glass, Carroll’s 1871 novel and sequel to Alice in Wonderland, illustrator John Tenniel depicted Tweedledee and Tweedledum as identical, rotund twins. Since then, they have become well-known pejorative slang terms for people who look and act alike. In various adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, including the live-action version directed by Tim Burton, these twins are portrayed by different actors. For instance, George Winter and Robbie Coltrane played them in the 1999 TV series Alice in Wonderland while Matty Finochio and Ben Cotton played them in ABC’s Once Upon a Time spinoff called Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
However, Burton’s version uses digital effects to allow British actor/comedian Matt Lucas to play both roles.
Like many characters in Alice in Wonderland, Tweedledee and Tweedledum were brought to life through a combination of live-action and CGI. During production, Matt Lucas wore a motion capture Fat Man suit. His movements served as a reference for the animators when creating the twins’ bodies. Additionally, footage of Lucas’ facial expressions was digitally applied to the animated body, making Tweedledee and Tweedledum identical. The whole process was aided by Ethan Coen, who substituted for another brother while filming. In an interview with Trailer Addict, Matt Lucas said he played both twins.
The twins are known as “Naughty Victorian Children,” but some find Burton’s version of Tweedledee and Tweedledum unsettling. This may be due to Burton drawing inspiration from another horror film: the Grady sisters in Stanley Kubrick’s thriller The Shining.