Interview: Christopher Mintz-Plasse on ‘ParaNorman’: “They didn’t have me audition. And I was like, ‘Alright, that’s risky guys. I could really mess this up!'”
Comic-Con: The new stop-motion animated film ParaNorman is a one of those semi-rare films that any member of the family can watch and actually enjoy. Even with all of the zombies, the film is beautiful and it’s also smart and thanks to the vocal talents of Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick Ass), funny.
ParaNorman is about a young boy, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who can see dead people. He’s relentlessly made fun of by the school bully Alvin (Mintz-Plasse) but when the small town they live in gets invaded by ghosts and zombies, Norman and Alvin have to work together to banish the ghouls. And in the end, Alvin takes all of the credit… of course.
Mintz-Plasse was at Comic-Con and talked with me and several other press about the voice-over process, how he got the part and what is what like to finally see the face of his character.
How did you come to this?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: They came to me actually, which was really exciting. Because they offered me this role straight up. I’ve never done any bullying or any character like this in the past. So for them to just offer that to me is really exciting and stop motion movies, they’re rare in a way. You know? There’s not many of them. Where as like CGI or animated movies, there’s one every weekend pretty much. And there’s sequels coming out all the time. So, I’ve done that already and I wanted to be a part of something that’s rare. Like, Coraline before that it was like Corpse Bride. Before that it was like Nightmare. It’s hard, you can count them all on one hand. So I really wanted to do something that hasn’t been done a lot. And, you know, they offered me the role and I went in and did my job. It was fun, yeah.
When you audition for something like that, what do you? Do they just give you sides?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: They didn’t even… they didn’t have me audition. They just gave… they were like, “We want you to do it.” Yeah. And I was like, “Alright, that’s risky guys. I could really mess this up.” I went in and just came in with my own voice and they loved it and let me do it.
Did you see a picture of what the character looked like before you did the voice?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I… my first day I went in to do my session, they had a picture. So, yeah. They offered me the job and then a month later I went in to do my session, I saw it, and it just looks like a fat version of me, which is great. Because I’ve always wondered what that would look like. Yeah, and then from there they just… we did all our dialogue first and then they start animating around you. It’s great.
Seeing any finished pieces of your voice with your character, was there anything that surprised you about I said it one way and they took it physically a different direction than I was imagining it?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Oh, I don’t think so. It’s really hard to imagine what way they’re going to take it.
I thought it was really cool that they film you the whole time you’re doing your lines, because they like to see what gestures you do and how your face reacts to the lines and to the screens. And a lot of that they put into the characters. Like, a lot of my arm gestures made it in and a lot of my facial expressions. Like, if you see the poster or something I think he’s doing that face. He’s doing that.
So it was really exciting to know that you helped build the character. They, like, it’s crazy. They film every session that you’re in. It’s awesome.
Is there any word on Kick-Ass 2?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, I think no papers have been signed, but we’re gonna start shooting September. Yeah, very excited for that. I play the Mother Fucker in this one. I’m gonna start working out and getting beefed up for that role. It’s gonna be good.
Based on this experience, are animated roles something you might want to actively pursue?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It’s funny, I’ve never reached out for animated projects. They’ve all reached out for me. They really liked my voice in Superbad and Role Models and Kick Ass and they came to me. How to Train Your Dragon, Marmaduke, and this one, yeah, they all reached out to me and I have a great time doing it so I’d love to keep doing it.
How long was the process for this one for you?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: First session I went in for 3 hours. Didn’t go in for another 4 months after that. Did another session, after that it was like 2 months. And then that was the long haul. I think it was after that session it was like 5 months? And that’s when they flew me out to Portland to do my last one. It’s such a long process, it’s crazy.
While you were in Oregon did you visit the set?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, that’s why they flew me out there. You get to, you know, you see how it’s all done. They shoot 50 scenes at once in just small little blocked off areas. And it’s so beautiful because you don’t realize it, but the whole movie is just pictures. Like, I knew it but then I didn’t really believe it until I saw it.
And it’s just 50, you know, Cannon 5Ds sitting around and they just click the button, move the arm just a little bit, take another click, and it’s like… there’s like no acting and there’s no moving… it blows my mind. It’s just a bunch of pictures put together for 2 hours. It’s incredible.