Frankenweenie is now in theaters, but before its big release I had a chance to interview the child actors behind the characters in the new Tim Burton and Disney film. Poised and professional, the three stars Charlie Tahan (Victor Frankenstein), Atticus Shaffer (Edgar “E” Gore) and Robert Capron (Bob) faced a room full of mom bloggers and eloquently spoke of their “craft” and what it was like to work with Tim Burton. They were even kind enough to poise for a picture with a fawning group of moms who look forward to the rest of their careers so we can say we met them “when.”
Were you Tim Burton fans before working on the movie?
Charlie Tahan: Tim has always been one of my favorite directors, since before I started acting. I was obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas and I didn’t event know it was a Tim Burton movie at the time.
Atticus Shaffer: Yes, my favorite was of course the original Batman. It was the first one I saw start to finish. I had seen bits and pieces of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Robert Capron: Yeah, I’m like Atticus, because my favorite Tim Burton movie was the original Batman. That was the first one I saw, I love Batman. When I found out I got the part I was flipping out when I first met Tim. Literally the first thing I said to him was, you directed Batman.
What do you like most about your character?
Charlie Tahan: Victor is kind of like loosely based on Tim’s childhood I think a little bit. So I was honored to be able to sort of play him.
Atticus Shaffer: For me, the characters I normally play are very calm-eye-in-the-storm characters. Some are smart, you know, they know how to figure out problems and whatnot. But then this one, he’s just so over the top. He’s kind of like a semi villain, he loves everything more big and over the top. Also being able to do the impression of Peter Lorre is just awesome for me. Because I love doing impressions, I love doing accents. I was like this is so new for me, it’s going to test my acting abilities, I want to do this.
Robert Capron: For me the thing I like the most about Bob is that despite the fact that he’s like a really big guy and he could very easily be like a bully, he’s not, he’s actually a very nice person. That was one of the things I liked about his character.
What is it like to do a voice over?
Charlie Tahan: This is my first voice over thing ever. I thought it was going to be a lot harder especially after I found out that I wasn’t going to be with the other cast to read with them. For me, I think it was a little bit easier because half my scenes are with Sparky, so I just imagined that my dog was there. But you don’t have to worry about like blocking or where to stand or hair and makeup, so you can just like focus all your energy just into your voice, so it’s a little bit easier.
Atticus Shaffer: Man, I love doing voice over, I mean that’s the whole reason I got into the business in the first place, because I love to play with my voice. I love telling stories, being able to put myself into these completely new characters. Also there is such a long list that you don’t have to worry about like wardrobe, makeup, memorizing lines, choreography, everything. You just have a small list for voice over, which is making sure that your voice is well.
Robert Capron: The thing that I like about voice over is that it’s significantly easier than like actually filming. It’s way easier, because like Atticus and Charlie said, there’s so many different variables that go into filming, like lighting, you need to look good with the hair and makeup… With this, the character is already mad, so all you need to do is supply the voice. But like Charlie said, too, a challenging part of it was that you’re not actually recording with other actors. You’re just doing it by yourself. And that can be kind of weird because you’re talking to yourself, in a way.
How long was the process?
Charlie Tahan: It’s been three years since we started filming. I only worked like ten days on the whole movie, but it’s spread out like once every two months or so. So it wasn’t like ten days in a row.
Atticus Shaffer: Yeah the thing that’s funny about working on a voice over thing is that you may think you’re done with it, and then five months later, they’ll come back and say, “Oh we need like a couple extra grunts and some breathing noises.
Charlie Tahan: Exactly, I had to go call one day and just laugh once, then I had to go home.
Robert Capron: Yeah one session I had to go into, I had to say like one line, then all I had to do was grunt and scream. That kind of thing.
What is the best part about working with Tim Burton?
Charlie Tahan: Well he’s surprisingly normal. I didn’t expect him to be like somebody like a scary guy, but he knows how he wants each scene like to be. Because Frankenweenie is really pretty personal to him, I think, and it’s sort of about his childhood. I think that he knows exactly how he like wants each, each shot or like scene to go.
Atticus Shaffer: My favorite part of him in particular was the fact that he is so creative. He doesn’t want to follow the crowd or be a part of the big machine. He, he wants to do his own thing. He wants to be creative, groundbreaking, because this film in particular is the first 3D, black and white animation. So being able to be a part of something groundbreaking like that, and his mindset too. So being a part of his mindset, his world, was just phenomenal for me.
Robert Capron: The thing I liked about Tim was that he definitely had a specific idea of how he wanted like every line to be. That’s one of the things I like about a director, when they know like exactly what they want. I think that’s really cool for someone to just know what they’re doing.
Had you seen the original Frankenweenie prior to working on the movie?
Charlie Tahan: Yeah I thought it was cool because it seemed like the original Frankenweenie was kind of a rough cut, sort of a sketch of this one.
Atticus Shaffer: During the audition process one day they put on the original Frankenweenie short. So I was able to sit down and watch it, and I definitely feel that to have that in the back of my mind and to see how the original did it and then now how he’s doing it, it was definitely very helpful.
Robert Capron: The original short was definitely like an outline of what this movie is. And I find that really cool, because thanks to stop motion animation, Tim was able to expand on everything in the short. I just felt that was a really cool thing to do.
Disclosure – I was invited to attend this premiere as part of a blogger weekend. Air fair and lodging was provided, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.