Une interview en anglais ou Tim Burton répond à des questions concernant de Corpse Bride, des différences avec Nightmare Before Christmas, des jouets Macfarlan, d’Helena Bonham Carter et de Johnny Depp, et bien sûr de lui même ! (Toronto Festival 2005)
Q: You have been dealing with the dead and the undead since Frankenweenie, so what is the appeal of that theme for you?
BURTON: Well, see, dealing with the undead comes from growing up in Burbank sort of a suburban kind of feeling of, like, Night of the Living Dead during the day with the bright sunlight. No, I don’t know. I just always liked monster movies I was always sort of fascinated by growing up in a culture where death is looked upon as a dark subject and then you know living so close to Mexico where you see the Day of the Dead, where you see the skeletons and it’s all humor and, you know, music and dancing and a celebration of life in a way. That just sort of always felt more positive approach to things, you know, so I think I always responded much more to that than this dark unspoken cloud in the kind of environment I grew up in.
Q: Are you incredibly optimistic that the afterlife is as colorful as you have painted it in this movie?
BURTON: You know, I have no idea what happens but like I said, I do respond to other cultures that treat life with a much more positive approach. I think this other form teaches — especially when you are a child — it teaches you to be afraid of everything and feel like something bad is always going to happen whereas the other way seems like a much more spiritual and positive approach. You know, that’s as far as I go because I really have no idea what will happen
Q: How did you ultimately gravitate to filmmaking?
BURTON: I always liked to draw like all kids do and make Super-8 movies like a lot of kids did and weirdly, I never had the real goal to do that, until in school I was such a bad student. I remember having to do a report where you had to read a book and write an essay on it, and I said, ‘I cant read,’ and so I made a Super-8 film on Houdini. It was a book we had to read. I remember not reading the book, not having to write the essay, and getting an A on the project — and I thought this might be a good living to try! And so I got into animation, and you know, luck comes into it as well
Q: I am wondering about the Macfarlane toy line you have for Corpse Bride and how hands on you were with those?
BURTON: That’s really important to me, especially on a project like this, it’s harder in live action stuff to get things right but on this it was pretty simple: Make it look like the damn puppet! (laughs) They’re so beautiful and they’re right there you know, it’s like ‘That’s it,’ and so I hope and I think they’ll be good. They should be good because there is no reason for them not to be. I’ve always said I am not into mass marketing, but if there is one thing that looks cool then that is fine with me. I’m not interested in a whole bunch of stuff, so I hope it will be fine.
Q: I was disappointed that there was no Scraps the dog. He was one of my favorite characters.
BURTON: Oh, there will be. Definitely.
Q: What were the animated movies and cartoons that you saw as kid? Were they satisfying? Or were they not, and that why you went into this?
BURTON: Mainly it had to do with Ray Harryhausen he was the guy, no actor meant anything but his name certainly meant something and uh and I think that’s where the love of this animation comes from cause you could see an artist at work, his monsters had more personality than most of the actors in the movies; even if the monster was just a monster, the death scene was always so tragic. Twist of the tail or whatever, or the one final breath… he brought such passion into the work. He was the guy that not only inspired me but inspired almost any animator. In fact several months ago Johnny, Helena and I went to his house in London. He is just such an amazing man and so generous with his time and his enthusiasm and all, and then he went to the set of Corpse Bride. Production kind of ground to a halt that day cause everyone what like, ‘uhhh…’ I think he not only inspired stop-motion animators, but any animator.
Q: Do you think Corpse Bride is for children?
BURTON: I’ve always had problems with that with certain adults. I mean, I remember people saying that about Nightmare… and tiny, tiny little kids come up and say that they loved the movie. I think it’s more of an adult problem than a kid problem. Because even Corpse Bride, I find even softer in a certain way. Its basically a love story, an emotional story, humor. And like any kind of fable or fairy tale, there may be elements that are somewhat unsettling but that’s part of the history of those types of stories.
To me the story is quite just emotional, I personally don’t find it dark at all. I also find that kids are their own best censors. Some kids like that kind of stuff and some kids don’t. I think they are the best ones to judge it; adults are like, ‘You can’t see this, you cant see that,’ and they just make this climate of fear. I have a child that is under two years old and he has watched “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” and “Viva Las Vegas” not that that’s a horror movie but…(laughs) if he didn’t like something then he’d walk out. I think it’s all in how you present things. Iif you were like, “Oh my god, Elvis and Ann-Margaret are about to kiss!!!” He’d freak out, you know?
Q: Do you think there are some things that are inappropriate that he can’t watch?
BURTON: Well I am not going to start showing porno movies or anything, hardcore porn (laughing). I think it’s a fascinating subject and somebody should write a book on it. You go into a shop and its like ok here are the Teletubbies and here are the Wiggles, and its very limited. And some would say scarier than most horror movies! Its interesting if you show them other things and don’t present it as, ‘Oohh, it’s bad…’ Its just amazing what they might accept.
Q: How was directing this movie different than Nightmare?
BURTON: That one I designed completely, it was a complete package. I felt more comfortable with it. With this it was a bit more organic. It was based on an old folk tale, we kept kind of changing it, but you know I had a great co-director in Mike Johnson. I feel like we complemented each other quite well. That was just a different movie, a different process.
Q: Your movies have always been about outsiders. Now that you have a happy relationship, a kid and so on, is it hard to still feel like an outsider?
BURTON: Well things aren’t always happy (laughing). No, you are very affected by your early life and if you ever had that feeling like an outsider, or that lonely feeling, it doesn’t leave you. You can be happy successful, whatever, but that feeling still stays inside you. You always will have that.
Q: I heard Helena say that she had to wait two weeks between her audition and getting the role; why did she have to audition, and what came about in your house during those two painful weeks?
BURTON: Oh, she’s an actress I think she is making it much more dramatic than it was. (laughing)
Q: So how was it?
BURTON: It was probably a slight bit of torture there, but it’s a two way street. I don’t think it was a dramatic as that. I do think that because I am with her I was a bit harder on her. Nobody else had to audition, that’s true (laughing). She’s cool. Long before I met her she’s done many movies, and she very secure of what she has done.
Q: Will you cast Helena in another one of your films?
BURTON: Of course, yeah. I wouldn’t just cast her to cast her. Same as how I wouldn’t cast Johnny or anybody that I love working with just to have them in the movie. You always want it to be the right thing, the right role, and I think she understands that and most of the people I work with understand that.
Q: Are there other pop culture things that you keep in the back of your head that might influence you on newer projects?
BURTON: I don’t have any new projects coming up. You know, things like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer [are influences], the kind of things you grow up watching just stay with you. They just kind of form what you like to do.
Q: Do you have any comic book influences?
BURTON: I wasn’t really a comic book fan. You know, I don’t know if I was dyslexic but I always had a hard time reading the right boxes. ‘This is a comic book but it doesn’t make any sense’ [pantomimes trying to put the pictures with the text and quote bubbles] I was reading them all out of sequence — I couldn’t quite deal with it!
Q: Talk about your relationship with Johnny — was it much different on Corpse Bride ? Did it affect the character?
BURTON: It was weird because we were doing both at the same time, he was Willy Wonka by day and Victor by night so it might have been a little schizophrenic for him. It’s the first animated movie he’s done, and he’s always in for a challenge. He’s kind of up for anything.
Q: I spoke with Mark Walhberg and he said if he had the choice he would not have done Planet of the Apes and he thought you wouldn’t have done it either — Do you agree with that?
BURTON: I like challenges, and doing things that you know maybe you shouldn’t do. There is something about taking a classic movie that people love and then doing another version of that, you are setting yourself up for a mistake. I loved working with him and I would do that again, but I try not to think back in retrospect and say I shouldn’t have done this and I shouldn’t have done that. You make your decisions and you live by them. It made money. It got a critical drubbing, but every project that you do… I never sort of really regret anything. You make your choices and you stand by them.
Q: If there a classic piece of literature or any other movie you would like to do and put your stamp on?
BURTON: No. Again, that’s always a risky thing. Especially if you are thinking of a classic movie…there are certain things that can’t be topped.
Q: You have done literary classics, Sleepy Hollow and of course Charlie.
BURTON: Yeah some people were like, ‘Oh you’re remaking the movie,’ and with that one, with Charlie, none of us ever felt we were remaking the movie. We felt we were trying to make the book. The screenwriter never looked at the [first] movie. For that one we didn’t feel pressured to try and top the original.
Q: Johnny told us that he scrambled his character together (Victor) in about 15 minutes — was it really that haphazard?
BURTON: Oh yeah. Yeah, we were shooting Charlie one day and it was like, ‘Hey, let’s do some recording tonight.’ And as we were walking over he was like, ‘Shit, who is this character, what is he doing…I have no idea…’ Great thing is, he likes to work spontaneously too and, really, in that one session he got it. I think he might have been a bit worried to begin with but I think he kind of likes that.
Q: What next for you?
BURTON: Well I think two movies at once, and at that time I was taking dancing lessons and learned how to play the clarinet, so I think I need to take a rest for a while…(laughing) No, I am just going to take time off for a while.
Q: Do you look for “outcast” qualities in the actors that you use?
BURTON: Yeah. Of course, like Johnny when I first met him on Edward Scissorhands, he was sort of looked upon as this handsome leading man, but I don’t think in his heart he felt that way and that’s why he wanted to do it because he understood that being perceived as one thing and being something else.
Q: And Helena ?
BURTON: Same thing — if you read the London papers she’s one of the worst dressed people in the history of Britain, or some sort of posh aristocrat. You know, she is completely misperceived. Maybe bothers her a little bit, but once you get labeled there’s really not much you can do about it.
Q: The Corpse Bride looks a lot like Angelina Jolie…
BURTON: [laughs] Don’t tell Helena!
Q: What do you think of Superman finally getting made?
BURTON: Oh I don’t know… Finally, you know?