While at Comic-Con for a panel presentation, actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) spoke to the press about the stop-motion animated feature ParaNorman. Set in the town of Blithe Hollow, 11-year-old Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) unexpectedly learns that a centuries-old witch’s curse is real and about to come true, and that only he can save the world from zombies.
During the interview, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (who plays an obnoxious and insecure bully named Alvin) talked about creating a voice for this character, getting to work with the other voice actors during the recording process, how nervous he gets every time he does a voice-over project, and how well done the anti-bullying message of the film is. He also talked about how he is currently doing voice work for How to Train Your Dragon 2, that he has the script for Kick-Ass 2 but has not officially signed on for it yet, how he hopes to shoot from September to December of this year, and how happy he is not to have the rape scene with his character from the comic. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I definitely did something weird. They liked my voice, so they called and offered it to me. It was a bully, so I was thrown off, at first. I was like, “I’ve never done anything like this.” I knew it was animation and I knew it was a bully, so I didn’t want to go in sounding like this. I tried to get as evil and as bully-esque as possible, so I created this surfer idiot, complete moron vibe, and it works really well. You’ll be like, “I don’t want to chill with that guy, ever!”
Why do you think they thought of you to play a bully?
MINTZ-PLASSE: I still haven’t asked them. I don’t want to know. I don’t get into that. They just called me up and said, “We love your voice, and we would love to have you do this.” They didn’t have anything in mind. They let me create it, which was really nice.
MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah. They do the dialogue before any sort of motion capture is created, or anything. They film you when you’re doing the dialogue, so if I do any arm gestures or anything weird with my mouth, if they think it works, they put it into the character. It’s nice.
Having already done How to Train Your Dragon and Marmaduke, what was different about this voice-over experience?
MINTZ-PLASSE: I’ve been a huge stop-motion fan since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Animated movies come out every weekend now. Madagascar 17 is coming out next week. There are just so many of them. Stop-motion is so special because they’re rare. I think the last one was Coraline, and the one before that was Corpse Bride. You could probably name them all on both your hands. So, I wanted to be a part of that because I think people are gonna love it and the character was great. It was different from the other animated movies I’ve done because they actually got all the actors in the same room. I’ve never done that before. I got to do scenes with Kodi [Smit-McPhee], which is great for the movie ‘cause it just feels more natural, that way.
MINTZ-PLASSE: It’s weird, I am always nervous about doing it, and I always realize that it’s so easy. I go in there and they want me to have fun, but on the drive over, I’m always clammy and I worry, “What if my voice squeaks? What if I don’t deliver it right?” Until you start saying the lines, it’s always nerve-wracking, for some reason, and I’ve never gotten over that. But, it’s fun to do. It’s a good paycheck!
Do you see yourself in the animated character, at all?
MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, I’ve noticed that, when I watch ParaNorman. I did things that made the movie. I was very proud of that. That’s cool!
How long did the process of recording actually take?
MINTZ-PLASSE: For the first session, I was in there for three hours and I did the whole script. And then, I didn’t go in for another three months, and I did another couple hours. And then, I didn’t go back in for a few months. And then, I did another session. After that, it was six months, and then they flew me to Portland to do my last session and visit the set and see how they make the movie. It’s beautiful, how they did it. It was amazing!
Was it difficult to get back into the character with such long breaks between recording sessions?
MINTZ-PLASSE: It’s very weird. I have to watch footage when I go there, to hear it again.
Was the strong anti-bullying message part of the appeal of this project?
MINTZ-PLASSE: I didn’t notice that until [people started asking me about it]. I just thought it was a cute, fun movie. But, it really is. I’m a bully and, in the end, I don’t win. I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s a kid’s movie, so you feel bad for the zombies, at one point. They’re not there to eat the people. They’re there because of a curse. So, the zombies end up getting bullied, as does Norman. In the end, it shows that the weird people are the heroes and everyone has got something special, so don’t bully. It’s cool. It’s really well done.
Did you have to try to figure out why Alvin bullies Norman?
MINTZ-PLASSE: It was all there, on the page. Norman sees ghosts, and nobody believes him. That’s such an easy way to pick on someone. Alvin is just dumb and naive and vulnerable, so he feels that his only way to be cool is to bully this kid. I knew those guys in high school that were the hot shots, and they’re doing nothing with their lives now. They wish they could be back in high school, but I don’t.
Having been in a comic book movie, with Kick-Ass, how do people react to you at Comic-Con?
MINTZ-PLASSE: We did the panel for this and they asked a question about Kick-Ass. I felt bad because we’re here for ParaNorman and they brought up Kick-Ass, but people are really excited. They loved Kick-Ass and they want Kick-Ass 2. I think we’re going to start filming at the end of this year. I’ve got a script.
Are you excited to finally be able to tell people that you’re going to actually film it now because they’ve been asking you about a sequel since the first one came out?
MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, it’s been four years. Chloe [Grace Moretz] is so much older, but they’re going to make it work. It is really nice to know. The thing is, I haven’t signed any papers yet, so there’s still that little part of me that’s like, “If it doesn’t happen, I’m going to get screwed by my managers.” But, it’s really close to happening.
Did you get to read the comic book sequel, as it was coming out?
MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, Mark Millar would just email them over to me, so that I knew what was going on.
What did you think about what was going on with your character?
MINTZ-PLASSE: It’s crazy! It’s unbelievable. I’m the Motherfucker now, in this one. It’s incredible! There was one moment in the comic, where the Motherfucker rapes someone, but I don’t think we’re doing that. We’re doing a different aspect of it, and it’s a really funny version of it, but there’s no rape. I’m really happy about that.
Are you looking forward to doing more voice-over work?
MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, I’m actually doing How to Train Your Dragon 2. I’ve done one session for it, four months ago. It’s so weird. You do it, and then you don’t hear from them for so long that you wonder, “Did it drop off the planet? Are they not doing it?” But, I think I’m going to do that again, at the end of this year. And then, I’m working on a TV show, called Friend Me, for CBS, from September to January. And then, Kick-Ass 2 is supposedly September to December. So, it’s going to be a long and busy few months. It’s going to be great, but exhausting.