A highlight from Tim Burton - 'Wednesday' [LIVE]
Hi everyone and thank you for tuning in to the 507th episode of the Hollywood Reporters Awards Chatter Podcast. I'm the host Scott Feinberg and my guest today is a filmmaker unlike any other. With directing credits dating back some 40 years including 1985's Pee Wee's Big Adventure, 1988's Beetlejuice, 1989's Batman, 1990's Edward Scissorhands, 1994's Ed Wood, 2003's Big Fish, 2005's Corpse Bride, 2007's Sweeney Todd, 2012's Frankenweenie, 2014's Big Eyes, and most recently in 2022, half of the eight episodes that comprise the first season of Netflix's giant hit drama series, Wednesday, for which he is personally nominated for two Emmys, Best Directing for a Comedy Series, and as one of the show's executive producers, Best Comedy Series. The New York Times has called him a visionary artist, noting, quote, he has developed a singular if not easily pinned down sensibility. His style is strongly visual, darkly comic, and morbidly fixated, but it is rooted just as much in his affection for monsters and misfits, which in his movies often turn out to be the same thing. He all but invented the vocabulary of the modern superhero movie, brought new vitality to stop motion animation, and has come to be associated, for better or worse, with anything that is ghoulish or ghastly without being inaccessible. He may be the most widely embraced loner in contemporary cinema, close quote. His most frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp, who he has directed in 19 films, said that he is, quote, a filmmaker I admire, but he's much, much more than that. Without embarrassing him, he's a true artist, which is something I wasn't sure was possible in today's cinema. But he's the real thing. He's a visionary, an auteur, totally uncompromising, close quote. He's talking, of course, about Tim Burton. Over the course of a conversation in front of a large audience at the Burbank International Film Festival, including two of Burton's most celebrated and longtime collaborators, the composer Danny Elfman and the costume designer Colleen Atwood, the 65 -year -old and I discussed his complicated childhood and how it led him to pursue drawing and attracted him to characters regarded by others as freaks, how he wound up working at Disney Animation and then making his feature directorial debut with a live action film, the challenges of getting films made even with hits under his belt and what ultimately led him to TV for Wednesday, plus much more. And so, without further ado, let's go to that conversation. Hello, everyone, and Tim, thank you so much for doing this. Great to see you. I normally begin every episode of this podcast asking our guests where they were born and raised, which I think we have addressed, but I do want to get into it a little bit more because, you know, over the years, you have expressed that sort of what you just alluded to, that, you know, you were very shaped by Burbank. For better or worse, there were elements that were great, elements that were complicated. Can you talk about, but one thing that you've always said is that without Burbank and without those childhood experiences, the filmmaker we know today would not exist. So just break it down. Well, I mean, you know, I keep reading that I hate, you know, like the press has a way of sort of taking what you say and take out the nuance and subtlety and, you know, like go right to the core. But I think, you know, and when I said about whatever I said about Burbank, it had more to do with my own psychological state of mind than it did with the actual city of Burbank. You know what I mean? So and that's a bit too complicated and psychological to go into now, but in the sense that, you know, you grow up in feeling a certain way, Burbank helped shape me because, you know, there was like my first film school was the Cornell Theatre. There was this amazing theatre that was torn down, I think, in the late in the 80s. I don't know when it was, but, you know, they would for 50 cents, you could see a triple feature. Like, I saw one amazing, I saw War of the Gargantuas, Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters in one go, you know, 50 cents. So that's where I learned my love of film and that really, so there was amazing places and it was incredible. There was like five movie theaters, Burbank at a certain time, and then they all got sort of taken away. But for me, that place, especially that theater was very, very special to me. And you've said that during your years in Burbank, which I think up until 12, you're living at, was it Evergreen Street? Is that where you were? Yeah, right down the street. Just down the street here. You can all walk over there after this. Yeah, we'll do a little. Check it out. Then you moved in with your grandmother also in Burbank, right? But as a bit of a loner, as a kid, you were kind of thinking about things, dreaming about things in everywhere from some of the cemeteries in town to... Yeah, the one right next door here, you know, I used to play around there, you know, that was, yeah. Yeah. You know, and I could look out my window, the thing that freaked me out, I looked out my window at Disney and this was like the weird, called the Bermuda Triangle of Burbank. Because I could see where I was born at St. Joseph's and then I could see the cemetery where everybody, all my family was buried. And I was, so it was like a weird Bermuda Triangle that I had to escape at a certain point because it was just too scary. Now, you've also said that as a kid, you were, you know, not only a bit of a loner, but sort of not particularly communicative, verbal with other people. You lived in your imagination, which manifested itself through drawing. Can we talk about how that entered the picture? And as was noted, I mean, to the extent that it was, you were talented enough that in Burbank, your work, anti -littering art was on the back of every garbage truck. I wanted $10, and at that time, that's probably like about a million now. Right, right, right. But drawing was an outlet for you. What kind of things were you drawing as a kid? Posters for trash trucks, I don't know, I mean, whatever. But also, I mean, the movies that you were drawn to, and I believe maybe therefore some of things the you were drawing were things that other people might find frightening or scary, but that you actually, in a way, related to, right? Like what are we talking about? Yeah, but I mean, like, you know, I didn't feel that different. It felt like, you know, I love famous monsters. I wait for that magazine to come out. I love monster movies. I live near a cemetery. You know, I mean, you use what you have, you know what I mean? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it was good. Totally. And I think also, too, growing up in Southern California, where you don't really have seasons, I think that's why I kind of got into, you know, like things like Nightmare for Christmas or Halloween, just because it gave you a sense of occasion, a sense of season that you didn't get through the weather, you know, I mean, to experience, like holidays, you had to go like to the main, like, at Save On and look at the holiday displays to kind of experience.