Meet the boys of Frankenweenie! Tim Burton’s newest epic – the first ever black-and-white 3D animated film – about a boy and his dog opens nationwide on October 5th. The film is completely entertaining, totally enthralling, funny and touching. But that’s pretty much the story when you mix kids, pets and monsters! In casting this film, Tim Burton didn’t go with adult actors pretending to be kids; he used real kids, a decision that adds so much to the characters, the feel and the power of the film.
The boys he cast are: Charlie Tahan (Charlie St. Cloud and I am Legend) in the lead role of Victor, Robert Capon (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in the role of Bob and Atticus Shaffer (The Middle and Fish Hooks) in the role of Edgar. Each one of them gives a great performance in the film. We got the chance to talk to the boys before the world premiere of Frankenweenie in Los Angeles about their characters, Tim Burton, and, of course, their pets.
Check out our interview here!
On Being Cast in a Tim Burton Movie:
Charlie: Tim has always been like one of my favorite directors since like before I started acting when I was like three or four. And I was obsessed with Nightmare Before Christmas and I didn’t even know it was a Tim Burton movie at the time, but Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, that was pretty funny. Bu it was like a yearlong audition process for this (movie) and I was really excited.
Atticus: And for me my favorite was Corpse Bride, that was the first one I saw start to finish…I had seen bits and pieces of like Nightmare Before Christmas and whatnot…I sat down and watched it from start to finish. And I fell in love with it immediately, just because the way that Tim Burton takes all these shapes, these objects and then transforms them….and creates this own world of his. And, then it was actually a yearlong audition process for me to get the part.
And after all the waiting and I’d go into auditions, I don’t want to expect to be like ‘oh, I’m going to get hired, I’m so good’. No I’m not like that at all, I’m just very like, ‘well, oh, I’ll do the best I can’ and if I do get it, that’ll be awesome. And if not, well at, at least I was able to try out for it. (Then) I get a call and they’re like, ‘hey, Atticus, by the way we, we were just wondering, what’s the longest audition process you’ve done in a while.’ And I said well, ‘Frankenweenie, that one took …going on for about a year and that one seems to be the longest.’ And they go ‘oh, you got it.’ After the defibrillator woke me up, I was brimming over with emotions…just ‘oh my god, I’m going to be a part of a Tim Burton legacy.’
Robert: My favorite Tim Burton movie was the original Batman. Because that was the first one I saw and because like I love Batman. And so when I, when I found out I got the part, I was like flipping out when I first met him, literally the first thing I said to him was, ‘you directed Batman. That’s awesome.’ It was really funny.
On their characters:
Charlie: Victor is kind of like loosely based on Tim’s childhood a little bit. I said, he’s been one of my favorite directors, so I was honored to be able to sort of play him.
Atticus: And, and for me, the characters that I normally play are either my voice or they are kind of the very calm eye in the storm characters. And, some are smart, they know how to figure out problems and whatnot. But then this one, he’s just so over the top.
He’s kind of this semi villain, (Tim) loves everything more big and over the top and, and also being able to do the impression of Peter Lorre for the voice is just awesome for me. Because I love doing impressions, I love doing accents, and during the audition process, during the very first one, they just said, ‘he’s kind of like the Igor character’ and, and I knew how to play that off, but the second or third audition into it, they, said if possible to do a Peter Lorre impression. And I was like ‘this is so new for me, it’s going to test my acting abilities’, I want to do this.
And so my mom and I, like the home schoolers that we are, rented, The Maltese Falcon and we already had Casablanca, and just sat down and really studied them and that alone was just such a thrill for me.
Robert: For me the thing I like the most about Bob is that despite the fact that he’s like a really big guy -like he’s huge – despite the fact that he’s really big 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.
On Tim Burton: the man, the myth, the legend.
Charlie: (Tim Burton) is, well, he’s surprisingly normal. I didn’t expect him to be like that. And he knows how he wants each scene like to be. Because Frankenweenie is pretty personal to him, I think, and it’s sort of about his childhood issue. I think that he knows exactly how he like wants each, each shot or like scene to go.
Atticus: And, also my favorite part of (working with) 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 wants to do his own thing. He wants to be creative, groundbreaking, and this film in particular is the first 3-D black and white animation.
(It was great to) be able to be a part of something groundbreaking like that, and his mindset too. It wasn’t the stereotypical view of how things were at that time. It was a darker tone, it was different. Being a part of his mindset, his world, was just phenomenal for me.
Robert: The thing I liked about Tim was that he definitely had a specific idea of how he wanted like every line to be. And that’s one of the things I like about a director, is when they know exactly what they want. I think that’s really cool for someone to just know what they’re doing.
Atticus: And being able to convey that information, because there are times where someone can be a little cryptic, or they’re trying to make you guess at what they want. They’re not just coming out and saying, ‘well no, it’s, it’s, it’s more like this’. And so us, as actors, we’re able to take that information and just say, all right, I know exactly what he wants
On the original Frankenweenie
Atticus: It was amazing. What was really cool for me is during the audition process, one day I was about the fifth kid called in. I’m there and everyone was still waiting and they hadn’t started the auditions yet and they put on the original Frankenweenie short. And so I was one of the few kids that while being there was able to sit down and watch it start to finish. And then I went in and I definitely feel that it 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.
Charlie: I thought it was cool because it seemed like the original Frankenweenie was kind of like a rough cut, like a sort of a sketch of this one. I feel like it was the sort of always stuck within him. It’s cool to compare that one to this one, there’s so many more characters, it’s a lot more complex.
Atticus: Because it is a black and white film and hopefully will inspire a new generation of, of kids to want to see the old classic films and see where the ideas originated from. And then not lose that part of our, of our history.
Robert: 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.
On there own pets
Atticus: Yes a great many, a great many. Where I live, I have chickens, two dogs and a rabbit and five cats. And actually over the course of being on the film, it’s grown closer to me because after we had finished recording and it was just before I, I went to see the screening of the film, a dog that we had for six years passed away. And so I became even closer to the film and I definitely knew how Victor must have felt and how a lot of people have felt.
And I feel like this film is another way of tributing them, because it does show that you can be that bonded to an animal, or a person, or a thing. And you would go to whatever extent possible in your world to either honor them in memory, or to bring them back.
Charlie: I have one pet left. Samantha the dog, I’ve had rabbits and a hamster, and lizards before. They’re all dead now. (But) I have a dog named Samantha.
Robert: Yeah I have three pets, I have a cat, a dog, and a rabbit.
See Frankenweenie in theaters everywhere on October 5th!