Tim Burton Interview

Tim Burton talks to MovieWeb about his stop motion creation!

He's the man behind one of the summers biggest blockbusters Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Tim Burton. He's wacky to look at, to talk to, but boy does he make some awesome movies!

And what's up with his hair? Well, we got the real scoop on that from long time fiance, Helena Bonham Carter, also happened to star in Charlie and stars in Coprse Bride.

And in his newest film, he goes back to his roots of stop animation; of course, Tim's other stop motion success was The Nightmare Before Christmas. Corpse Bride also teams him up with Johnny Depp for the fifth time, most recently, he also was in Charlie - are you sensing a theme here?

Tim took us into his world to talk about Corpse Bride; here's what we talked about:

What's your opinion on 'the land of the dead?'

Tim Burton: It wasn't meant to be so literal, it was more meant to be more bureaucratic – it kind of goes back to the way I grew up in this sort of ‘everybody's categorized' society versus what the ‘land of the dead' was trying to represent a vibrant, creative life that you would have. Also, the subject of death was a dark cloud kind of subject - living near Mexico, you've got the Day of the Dead ceremonies where you have dancing skeletons, a lot of humor, dancing and things – it seemed a more positive approach to life in a way. So it was a combination of those things and symbols of that representation.

How has your relationship with Johnny evolved through the years?

Tim Burton: It hasn't become sexual yet. (lots of laughter) No, the great thing about him is, when I first met him back on Edward Scissorhands, he's maintained an artistic integrity that's amazing. In a movie industry where certain people can get seduced by certain things, he's always kept to what he does, he's basically a great character actor in a leading man's body, and he's always kept that integrity and that's something I've always found amazing in this business. I love working with him and I like working with actors who like to transform; he's certainly, from Scissorhands on, he's more like Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff than a leading man in terms of wanting to be different characters. It's just a very creative person to work with.

What do you think when people see a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp movie?

Tim Burton: Well, I think he's a lot better looking than I am. But what's great about him is he likes to get in the spirit of things; he immerses himself in a character, wherever he's working, he probably does that. It's something that's a part of his art; I think he does that in any role he does.

Do you ever see an influx of stop motion animated movies like there's been with CGI?

Tim Burton: It's unfortunate that Disney closed down their drawing animation building, they make a few movies that aren't successful and they say ‘Oh, well that's not working so we're going to go to computers.' I think they forget that the reason why computer movies are successful is because Pixar made good movies. That's the real reason and everyone tries to copy that; somebody will then make a beautifully made animated cell movie and everyone will say ‘Oh, we have to go make that again.' It's always unfortunate that they're not open to the different aspects; the reason I held out to do this one and Nightmare was because it just felt right for these stories. I was very emotional about the project, the hand-made, the artistry, and the beauty in which they're made, the sets – when you try to marry the medium and the project, especially this particular one, I just wanted to make it an emotional love story and an animated film, this process seems to work well with that. We even experimented with people who did it on the computer and it looked nice, but it didn't have the raw, primal look that stop motion has.

Do you ever see yourself making a CGI movie?

Tim Burton: All forms are valid; you just try not to do what all Hollywood does – ‘All things are computer.' If the right kind of project came up for computer, then you do it, but again, I think that the story and the medium are compatible.

How did you come up with the Corpse Bride characters?

Tim Burton: Well, about ten years ago, I started doing a few sketches. But these things can take some time to finally get the screen.

What was your inspiration for these characters?

Tim Burton: The challenge on this was the human characters, like in Nightmare, it's easier to do fantasy characters. And a lot of times when they try to do semi realistic characters, they're always too odd, so we went back to my first movie, Vincent, and Victor is sort of Vincent grown up. So that started the crack of how to make the human characters in this medium; and I actually feel quite good about it. The character designs, which you look at and you get their character immediately, and the actors we had; I had an amazing cast of actors. What was weird was all the characters were done before we started casting the actors; when I asked Johnny to do it, it's amazing that the character kind of resembled him in some way. And the same thing with Albert Finney – when I hear his voice and see his character, it's so perfect to me. I think all the characters, in any animated movie, the voices are important, but I feel in this one, I felt special in that all the actors made it not feel like an animated movie, but more like a live action film because I feel like they really nailed their voices well.

What about the dancing skeletons?

Tim Burton: I've always loved dancing skeletons; in Jason and the Argonauts, that's one of the most amazing sequences, and it's one of the first things I remember from one movie. There's always room for dancing skeletons.

You cut this on Final Cut Pro; what do you think this says that you can cut a movie like this on a $3000 piece of equipment?

Tim Burton: Well, I don't see anything bad about it; it's good. The thing is technology is technology and then art form and people's creativity is another thing. Anything that helps an artist do anything – great! Technology for technology sake doesn't mean much to me anyway.

Why are all the female puppets so busty?

Tim Burton: Well, we toned her down a little bit, actually; she is a corpse afterall. But, we wanted to make her pretty and corsets have a way of filling out a person.

What importance does Danny Elfman play in your work?

Tim Burton: Well I think in something like this, like with the actors, he has to come in right away, with the songs, and the music, the animators have to have that to animate to; they can't do it without that. So in a project like this, he has to come in right away, even before the animators. And once that's locked, it's locked and the same with the voices cause that's all the animators have to go on; that's pretty locked in there.

What was your inspiration for stop motion animation?

Tim Burton: Well, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer every year, that meant it was Christmas; in California, you don't know what time of year it is until you see Rudolph. It has a primal feel, but there's something about it that stays in your memory very deeply.

And as far as his hair - straight from the mouth of Helena, here's the real story:

How much of a process is it for Tim to get his hair like that or is that natural?

Helena Bonham Carter: It's sort of like a minimal bit of effort; he does it in the mirror. You wouldn't think he does, but he really does.

Have you ever gone to him with a comb?

Helena Bonham Carter: Once when he was asleep. (lots of laughter) I tried to push it down and one time to do the central parting, but he woke up (laughter) and he saw me coming towards him with a comb.

So it's really his hair - who knew?

The Corpse Bride has so many amazing voices for the characters from Helena, Albert Finney, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Danny Elfman, and even the Oompa Loompa himself Deep Roy makes his voice heard.

Corpse Bride is rated PG; it opens nationwide September 23rd.