BEVERLY HILLS -- It will be a decidedly new-look Alice who goes down the rabbit hole in ABC's "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" this fall as British actress Sophie Lowe brings a big dose of girl power to Lewis Carroll's fabled heroine.

"She's tough, mentally and physically, and she can take care of herself," Lowe told reporters on Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Indeed, ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee described the character as an "Alice like you've never seen Alice before. She's a truly kick-ass Alice."

"Wonderland," a spinoff of the fairy-tale saga, "Once Upon a Time," was originally envisioned as a midseason series that would air when the original show was on hiatus. But Lee said ABC was attempting to build a Thursday lineup full of "empowered women," and "Wonderland" was shifted to the fall.

Actors Michael Socha  and Sophie Lowe speak onstage during the "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" panel discussion at the Disney/ABC Television
Actors Michael Socha and Sophie Lowe speak onstage during the "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" panel discussion at the Disney/ABC Television Group portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. ( Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who created "Once" said "Wonderland" will exist "concurrently" in the original show's timeline, but will stand on its own.

"(Wonderland) has it's own unique vibe," Kitsis said. "It's like a psychedelic romance ... It's weird and trippy. It's intense."

The "Wonderland" cast includes Naveen Andrews ("Lost"), who will play Jafar, and John Lithgow as the White Rabbit. Emma Rigby will play The Red Queen. Sebastian Stan, who played the Mad Hatter in a "Once" episode, is too busy with roles (the "Captain America" movie), so won't appear early in the series. But the producers are hoping to recruit him to play along at some point.

"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" debuts at 8 p.m. on Oct. 10.