Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara Interview
Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara Interview
Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara, two of the stars bringing their amazing and diverse vocal talents to Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, spoke to View and other enraptured people about working with the genius of Tim Burton, putting voices and life into his characters in his stunning animated film, how much fun it is working together and enjoying the creativity of talented artists, and why Tim Burton’s animated masterpiece is so good on so many levels.
What attracted you to the film in the first place?

Martin Short

Oh, I think it's Tim, it starts with Tim Burton. We've both had great experiences with him in the past, and to be asked to be a participant in something, especially that meant so much to him, a return to something that's so personal to him, was an honour. And then to be asked to be play three roles was huge.

Catherine O’Hara

Yeah, Tim. Him. That guy. We'd both seen the short film, not that he asked us if we'd seen it, which was great, he didn't care. But we did. We'd seen it, and loved it, and thought yeah, that makes sense.
Has he changed, at all, since working with him last?

Catherine O’Hara

No, not at all. Everything around him has changed, which is why people ask this; has he changed, is he really different? No, honestly, he's the same man, to me, that he was when I worked with him on Beetlejuice. He’s loose and fun and collaborative and loves to laugh. He's just so into what he's doing at the moment, but in a light, fun way. He takes the work seriously and he really respects his gifts, and that's great, so do I. But there's always a lightness and sense of humour about it.

Martin Short

Yeah, I mean I worked with him, Catherine was with him on the ground floor of his career and I worked with him in the mid-90s, and I remember expecting someone different. Expecting someone more brooding, or something. But he's just this funny guy, who loves to laugh and do jokes, and is very collaborative. I kept thinking that he'd have very specific, y'know, 'You walk here' but it's 'What do you think, where would you go?' Because he does want to hear from his actors because he's the one who picked them, so all respect to him. And then in this, I found no difference. He's just very happy to be in that creative setting, he feels very safe with the people he feels safe with.
What kind of homework did you have to do? Did you watch horror films?

Catherine O’Hara

No, I didn't even know a great deal of the references to horror films in the movie, other than us being parents called the Frankensteins, and knowing the short film. But he doesn't discuss all that, he doesn't talk about 'What I'm doing here for this film'. He's none of that talk, he's all, 'Look at this drawing.' 'Oh, that's amazing. Her name is Weird Girl? Oh, that's too much fun.' Then he tells you about it, then starts playing. I tried to go in with something to offer on that first day, because that was pretty much the longest session, where you go in and just really – because you are doing three characters – one at a time, try and find a voice for those beautiful drawings. I felt a great responsibility, but at the same time, really excited to be working with Tim again, and the chance to do three.

I thought it was an audition, actually, and he was giving me a shot at three characters, not asking me to do three characters. But it was really fun, you try to go in with something to offer. You look at the drawings, you think, 'Oh, who could this be? What could she sound like?' But, then it's just scary to open your mouth for the first time. But then you are in good hands with Tim, and Alison, too [producer Alison Abbate], both of them were just like 'Okay, yeah, this is where you are going', 'Oh, I love that', 'Don't do that! Stay away from that, go here.' It was just really encouraging and fun and it makes you want to give more.
(Dutch journalist) Did you do any research on your Dutch part?

Martin Short

No, none. I'm not saying that was the right decision. Wait, let me rethink. No, I think that this is such a process. Tim isn't sitting there, he isn't saying, 'This is what I need.' It's not that at all. It's literally, you're there, on that day. You see the sketch at the beginning and then you start experimenting, and you think, what might that Mr Burgemeister sound like? Might he be British, might he be French, might he be German? High voice, low voice? And then you keep experimenting. And then when you stumble on something and he starts laughing, it becomes that.

I remember in the second session I was thinking, well what if he was a four-pack-a-day smoker who had just given up three months before? That's the kind of detail, Tim loves that. It's just collaborative that way. He was very specific with the parents, and we actually recorded together, which is atypical.

Catherine O’Hara

Yeah, very smart on his part.

Martin Short

He knew exactly what that should be. Very, very nurturing, very calm, very real, very...

Catherine O’Hara

Intimate.

Martin Short

Intimate. But the others, he was saying, 'Let's experiment with it.' And that's the great thing with audio, you have lots of time, lots of chances. No cameras running, no crews waiting, limited people involved. It's very private in a way.
But you didn't ask about the Dutch connection in the story?

Martin Short

You know, it's so funny the things I forget, I've a lot on my plate. But now I remember, yes, I did. Well, it was very important to me to know a tremendous amount about the Dutch connection and your land of Dutch...ville.

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Content updated: 23/04/2019 07:58

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