Frankenweenie Roundtable Interview with Co-Stars Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short

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In the last of our Frankenweenie roundtable interviews, Dread Central was on hand to catch up with two of the funniest cast members of the flick- Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short.

Both “SCTV” and Tim Burton alums, O’Hara and Short also pull triple duty on the filmmaker’s latest stop-motion animated flick, both lending their voices to three different characters in the flick. During the recent press day held at Disneyland, we heard more from Short and O’Hara about reteaming with Burton, voicing their characters and a whole lot of funny business in between.

Check out the highlights from the Frankenweenie roundtable below and look for movie to arrive in theaters everywhere tomorrow!

Question: Had you guys seen sketches of your characters and sketches of the environment you’d be working in before you began doing the voices for the film?

Catherine O’Hara: Absolutely.

Martin Short: What’s amazingly rewarding for an actor to work with Tim is that he, you know obviously he’s hired you. So the buck stops with him and starts with him. You see a sketch and then for the first session or two he wants to hear how you see it and when he starts laughing, then you know you’re on the right track. And not necessarily laughing out of something’s funny been said, but laughing because now it’s fitting in to how he saw it.

Burgermeister would be an example of someone he didn’t know what he would sound like, but he knew he should be disturbing, weird, odd, and uh… I remember at one point I said uh, what if he just had been a four packs a day smoker but had recently quit. With Tim that’s just the kind of thing he looks for (laughs).

Catherine O’Hara: Yeah. They had these drawings on easels in the first recording session; these beautiful drawings of these characters that you see in the movie and then they tell you a bit of the story and-and I find with that kind of work, when you have such a beautiful thing to work from – these images, that it is of course…

Martin Short: Did you say from or with?

Catherine O’Hara: I’m working from it.

Martin Short: I thought you were talking about me again (laughs).

Catherine O’Hara: No, dear. So yes- that you want to honor that because first of all, Tim did the short film twenty years ago, so that’s been in his head. Then people are imagining that this is a more personal story for Tim than some of his other movies so I felt a great responsibility and it was also a great honor to be able to voice those characters that had been in his head and we get to be a part of that.

Question: Both of you have worked with Tim before, so how did he approach you for these roles? And because you’re doing voice acting as opposed to live action acting, how different was it working with him as a director?

Catherine O’Hara: Well I got a call from my agent saying Tim wants you to come in and do three voices and I went ‘Really?’ My agent told me it for was the Mother, Weird Girl, and Gym Teacher and I thought, ‘Okay, that’s great!’ But I thought at the time that he was just giving me a shot at three voices; I did not for a second assume I was going to be playing all three characters. But actually each time I went in and they still had me doing all three characters which was great.

But when you see Tim again, he’s just the same as he was for me on the set of Beetlejuice; really fun and loose but absolutely knows what he wants. And when you first open your voice I think it’s scary, whether it’s live action or recording but especially if it’s voice but Tim makes you feel safe so you just sort of jump in and start playing and have fun with him. He’s the same guy in that way.

Martin Short: I worked with him on a film called Mars Attacks and I wasn’t sure what it would be like to work with Tim Burton you know. Right away you’re struck by that he’s just like a funny guy who wants to laugh and isn’t particularly dark at all; just joyful, really enthusiastic and very much wants to hear what your take on it.

I remember we were doing a scene in Mars Attacks, which was complicated blocking and he said well just go and try it. Then when you think about it, as I said earlier, that Tim has hired you but to keep you involved is his decision. I found that he was the exact same now ten or fifteen years later; I don’t find that he was particularly different, it was a new piece of art that he was creating.

Catherine O’Hara: Oh yeah Tim’s work is, I think, ever-growing and ever-changing and although he certainly has great consistency in taking care of his characters and his visuals but he seems like the same guy to work with. I remember how they were waiting to see how Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was going to perform before they would give more money for Beetlejuice and I saw back then how everything was resting on his shoulders- how that movie was going to do. But Tim nailed it- he always nails it- but when you spend time with him now, he’s the same guy.

Question: Obviously you guys had seen sketches and read the script when you came on to the project, so when the movie was completed sometime after you’d done your voiceover work and you saw it, was there anything different about the film that you weren’t expecting to see? Given that you’d had access to all those materials ahead of time.

Catherine O’Hara: Oh yeah, I was blown away especially by the stop frame animation. You totally appreciate it as a story and you care about the characters and it’s just this beautiful, touching, funny, great movie. But it’s almost impossible to appreciate the work until you actually see it. The meticulous millisecond by millisecond handling of the characters in the set that goes into the flow. When you see that dog Sparky in the movie and the way he moves and jumps around, the little ball, it’s just so real and so alive. I can’t imagine what goes into all that work; you need to watch a six-month making-of to appreciate the artistry that goes into a movie like this.

Martin Short: I agree and what I think is kind of endearing about this project particularly is that you know that Tim is a wealthy, successful man so when he takes on a project, particularly something this personal, his agenda is to make it as good as possible. There’s no like ‘uh yeah, do whatever- I gotta go to dinner now, you take care of things’ mentality with him at all; Frankenweenie a real work of love and art.

The Frankenweenie voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Short (Mars Attacks!), and Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow), along with Charlie Tahan and Atticus Shaffer.

A heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

A stop-motion animated film, ‘Frankenweenie’ will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.

Frankenweenie Roundtable Interview with Co-Stars Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short

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