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Nordling Interviews TIM BURTON?!?!?! Mondo Bizarro!

Hey folks, Harry here... somedays a reader on AICN gets a call and is chosen to do something very out of the ordinary... Today, for the loyal Nordling.... he got the call to interview TIM BURTON. Nordling isn't on the AICN payroll, isn't a professional, isn't at all his thing, but today as a pure fan of film he got to sit down and have a phone conversation / interview sort of thing with TIM BURTON. And I love the results... give it a read...

Nordling here. There's days I thank God I found AICN, and this one's one of them. Last night, making dinner, I get the phone call from Quint - can you interview Tim Burton tomorrow morning? Now how could I say no to that? I had no speaker phone, no microrecorder, but I went out and grabbed these things to take care of business. This being the 10th Anniversary of AICN, I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute something like this.

I have to warn you - I feel like I James Lipton'd this interview. I'm a fan, and it's very, very difficult for me to put my geek stuff aside and concentrate on the stuff at hand. But I think I did my best, and hope you enjoy this interview.

Nordling: First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on the Oscar nomination for CORPSE BRIDE.

Tim Burton: Oh, thank you.

Nordling: It was a really wonderful film.

Tim Burton: That's nice, I'm happy for all the people that worked on it. It's like being in a dark room for 16 hours a day, moving little puppets, it seems kind of crazy, but they did a wonderful job.

Nordling: I was bummed that Danny Elfman didn't get recognized because I thought "Remains Of The Day" was an amazing song.

Tim Burton: They don't seem to like him very much.

Nordling: Yeah, I don't think that's right. I think he's really talented.

Tim Burton: It always seems like the same kind of thing with him.

Nordling: The score to the movie, we had it pretty much on repeat in the car, because my daughter loved the film.

Tim Burton: Oh that's nice. Well, you know, this stuff has a delayed reaction I've noticed over the years, it's like, people have funny opinions about it, and at the same time then years later his music really stays with people.

Nordling: I agree with that. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS I thought was amazing.

Tim Burton: Yeah, he didn't get very much good talk about that except years later when you talk to kids and stuff and it has a strong impact on them, so it's really nice.

Nordling: I wanted to get out of the way first, the rumor mill, basically, some of the projects you might be heading up, I know you probably can't talk too much about it, RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT...

Tim Burton: Yeah, it's something I'm really interested in. I used to go to Ripley's museums and remember the cartoon but I never really put it to a person. And it is incredible, this guy, he really was kind of an amazing story. So, yeah, I'm very interested in it, so it's a possibility.

Nordling: What's interesting to me was that his life was so wild, and it's up to the audience to determine what's true and what's not.

Tim Burton: Yeah, I know, and the weird thing is - and that's why BELIEVE IT OR NOT is such a good title because there's not that many biographies of him, there's a couple and there's some old New Yorker articles about him - he was that kind of strange juxtaposition of truth and sort of half-truth, but it's surprising how much of it seems to be pretty true, which is really amazing to me.

Nordling: One of the other things I've also heard on the rumor mill was a possible musical - SWEENEY TODD?

Tim Burton: It's something I really, really like and it's definitely something that... it's a musical that for me is my favorite in terms of all the elements, so it is something I would be interested in, yes.

Nordling: That's a great musical. I'd love to see another animated film come with you and Danny Elfman, another musical like CORPSE BRIDE or NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Tim Burton: Sometime, I mean, with that medium, stop-motion, it's like part of the thing that's important for me is to make sure that the story and the medium go together. That's what I felt about NIGHTMARE and CORPSE BRIDE. It's just making sure that whatever that project is, if we ended up doing it in that technique, is right. But it is a form that I really do love.

Nordling: I was really happy to see with the Oscars, the three films that were nominated were traditionally animated and stop-motion.

Tim Burton: Yeah, it's great, because I think... I was very sad a few years ago when Disney said they were going to stop making cell-animated films, and I think there were a couple of other companies that said the same thing. It just seemed like such a mistake that they decided to sort of pin everything on one particular medium. There's something beautiful about drawn animation, there's something beautiful about stop-motion, and there's something beautiful about computers. But I'm glad that other forms are still being recognized, that's really nice.

Nordling: The thing to me is that for animated films, the meticulous nature of hand-drawn and stop-motion, brings more weight to what you're seeing, as opposed to computer animation which feels rushed for me.

Tim Burton: For those people, there is something special about the medium - you can actually walk on the set, and there's lighting, and there's dimensional characters there on the set, and for as painstaking as it is, it's also an amazing process to see, because it's something that's tangible. You can see it and touch it and there is something, maybe an audience doesn't really see that, but you know from being around it and all, it's an important part of the process, and it does give it a certain emotional quality. That was something that we were trying to do different in CORPSE BRIDE than other animated films, in the sense of treating it more like a movie, and having it slower, try to make it a bit more of an emotional pace to it. And so, that's where the medium helps that quality.

Nordling: I also think it's a lot of fun becuase it's like playing with toys and getting paid for it.

Tim Burton: Yeah, I know! It goes back to your old Super-8 days of just taking GI Joes and Barbies and moving them around. Absolutely.

Nordling: How do you feel CORPSE BRIDE is being received by the general public?

Tim Burton: It seemed pretty good to me, given that it wasn't that big of a budget, and overall, it did very well. For me, I always treat any movie, as long as it seems to do okay, I'm pretty happy about it. It's weird, because I remember NIGHTMARE, it did sort of okay, but then it's almost something that's done better over the years in some ways, so you can't really tell with a movie.

Nordling: One of the things I did want to tell you, in a personal nature, I thought BIG FISH was amazing. My father passed away with cancer when I was 17, and that whole process of the film for me really touched me deeply.

Tim Burton: Thank you.

Nordling: I was wondering, watching the film, was that sort of an exorcism for you of a personal nature, as in the relationship with your parents.

Tim Burton: Well, yeah. I think it's a fairly universal theme in that way. It certainly struck a chord with me, in terms of that very bizarre relationship you have with your parents. My father recently died as well, before I did that movie, so it was... it's funny, when that happens to you, you do enter a different zone and start thinking about things that you never started thinking about before. That movie really was cathartic that way for me, and I could certainly relate to the themes of it as well.

Nordling: Any plans with working on Johnny Depp again?

Tim Burton: I love working with him, since he's capable of doing almost anything, always keeping it open.

Nordling: One of the things I loved about CORPSE BRIDE... Christopher Lee's voice -

Tim Burton: I want him to do my phone machine! When I sometimes talk to him on the phone, I can't believe it. I was really lucky on that movie. Really, the whole cast was one of the best casts, really great voices and people, and that juxtaposition of all them I just thought was really great.

Nordling: My take on CORPSE BRIDE was it was like one of the old-school Ealing comedies with Alec Guinness crossed with Rankin-Bass.

Tim Burton: (laughs) Can't escape the Rankin and Bass, definitely.

Nordling: When you first began, with FRANKENWEENIE, and VINCENT, and PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, to me, it was such a great style, almost like throwing everything against the wall and see if it sticks. Do you feel any more pressure now, to conform, or do you still have that gung-ho feeling when you're making a film?

Tim Burton: I still have that feeling, there's no way to not have that feeling, even when it seems like a safer bet or unknown thing or whatever. It doesn't really change anything, which in some ways is very good, because for me, you would never get complacent, or feel like you know exactly what you were doing, all that unknown quality is part of what's fun about it for me. You got to have that going in, otherwise I don't think you can really deal with all this stuff. I definitely try to keep it all in the realm of the unknown.

Nordling: Have the scripts that you've been getting have gotten better over the years or is it more of a feeling of "This is what I can do for this?"

Tim Burton: Yeah, it's different for different projects. I wouldn't say they're getting better, but it's also too, as well as the scripts, is where you're at in your life and how you feel and what you you actually want to do, because sometimes you may read something that's just not connecting with you at that moment in your life. So it's a timing issue as well. I don't think they're getting better, it's more of a case of finding material that you can connect to. I've worked with different people, and I remember really liking the script to ED WOOD and feeling very strongly about that and they really didn't change anything much in that script. That was probably the one script that stayed the closest to the written word.

Nordling: ED WOOD's my personal favorite of yours.

Tim Burton: It was nice to have a script I really related to. Usually with the people I've worked with, and what I've learned you do some improv, and that's fun too, but that was the one we stayed as close to the script.

Nordling: How do you feel about the Oscar competition this year?

Tim Burton (laughs): They call it a "competition", but it's not like... it sounds funny, doesn't it? Like some kind of sporting event, or a lotto, pick your lucky number... how do I feel about it? Well, luckily, I don't really have any - I have no real experiences, I don't really have feelings I can place it against.

Nordling: To me, what I enjoy about your films, it's like they build over time. NIGHTMARE to me is a classic, ED WOOD is a certified classic.

Tim Burton: I remember very early on, after we did PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, it got some of the worst reviews of all time, really, really bad. Then I remember a couple of years later, all of a sudden, first one got all these revisions - people that said it was horrible all of a sudden were giving it a good review three or four years later. So I did sort of learn the fact that things sometimes change, and that people change. Same thing with BEETLEJUICE, I remember it getting really bad. So I was lucky to get really bad reviews that changed several years later, which I thought was really interesting.

Nordling: How do you feel about film vs. digital? Do you think you'd ever film digitally?

Tim Burton: Again, when you hear about these things, when people talk about them, they sort of categorize it, which I guess it's an easy way to do it, and some logic to it. But it's like what we were talking about with the different animation forms, or even digital vs. film, there's some benefits to it, but you would never just say, "I'm just going to shoot digitally," and just not think about it, it's always good to make sure that it's the project, I think what you're saying, it's letting the material be presented in the best way it can be presented. I'm always a protector of the film experience. That's one of the things that I don't- I'm very much against the way that the DVD seems to come out like a week after the theatrical. Everybody I talk to, myself included, everybody now goes "Why go see it because it's going to be out on DVD next week." I always try to protect the film, that's why when you see movies on a huge screen, the more of that the better.

Nordling: I'm really glad you brought that up. I agree. I'm a very big fan of going to the movies, because to me I think it's the last real American communal experience.

Tim Burton: Oh yeah.

Nordling: It used to be, and then we got commercials, and all this other stuff before the movies, and before to me it was like, everyone's discussing the film, and you come out of the theater and you're buzzing and talking about it, and now to me, it's almost like it's getting taken away by various things, like DVD...

Tim Burton: I think, no matter what technology comes over and takes over, I always feel like they should always remember that it's a movie, it's still the same primal experience that you feel like when you're a kid and you're going to the movies, or you see something on the big screen, the biggest screen that you can, with good sound, it's like that to me, they should be spending some time trying to make sure they develop.

Nordling: What's the first movie you saw that made you say, "I want to do that?"

Tim Burton: The first one that I really remember vividly in my mind, just because it was a full moviegoing experience, because it was in an amazing old theater, was JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, that's the one that I really recall. It had that big scale to it, I saw it at an old theater on Catalina Island, so it had this sort of weird, like being inside of a seashell. The old theater, that movie - that's one that I really have a strong memory of.

Nordling: What's the film that you've made that you're most proud of? I know that's kind of hard, like picking a favorite child...

Tim Burton: Yeah, it's hard. I don't know, I guess going back to SCISSORHANDS, that would be one of the earlier ones, so probably that.

Nordling: I so appreciate your time, I'm a big fan, and I can't wait to see your next project.

Tim Burton (laughs): Well, hopefully there'll be one, but it was good to talk to you.

I AM THE NORDLING... Shake mortal Shake!

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:17 p.m. CST


    by chickychow

    if not, fuck you too.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:23 p.m. CST

    great interview

    by Atomik Steve

    i like conversation-type interviews as opposed to reading a set list of questions. i think you got some good reactions and thoughts out of him. good job!

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Good Job!

    by Josh Town

    Tim Burton is a film God!! Nordling is a fan...I give him all the respect in the world for "sucking his balls". With that said, I think he composed a really good interview. Great stuff!!

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:43 p.m. CST


    by IAmLegolas

    ... you didn't want to ask him why he's been floundering since SLEEPY HOLLOW ... or why his commentaries are so boring and dead air filled that he has to be paired up with someone interesting (Paul Reubens on PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE saved his ass) or has to have it edited down to the good bits and sprinkled out along the course of the movie? (more recent DVD releases)... or if the reason CORPSE BRIDE rang hollow for a lot of people is maybe because Henry Selick was missing? *** Tim jumped the shark when he tossed Lisa Marie aside for Helena Boham Carter. (boy... I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm just all about the scathing posts today. Thank god it's Friday)

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Tim Burton's next remake: The Three Amigos

    by strongbadmonkey

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:54 p.m. CST

    CORPSE BRIDE has an awful ending...

    by beamish13

    Anyone over the age of 5 could see it coming a mile away. Elfman didn't get nominated this time around because, frankly, his work just wasn't up to snuff. I do love him and Burton, though, and I even own a conceptual piece Burton did for Disney's BLACK CAULDRON (now there's a film that needs to be revisited on DVD).

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 4:59 p.m. CST

    No need to worry, Nordling...

    by Koola_Norway did great!

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:03 p.m. CST

    Yeah, it was a softball interview but so what?

    by JohnGalt2005

    Burton is an interesting guy and he doesn't let those compliments go to his head (too much). I was surprised that Nordling didn't ask about Depp's performance in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY? Or has that horse been beaten to death? Anyway, maybe I'll go rent CORPSE BRIDE...

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:17 p.m. CST


    by bigj3rk

    He says nice a lot, I hate that word.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Hopefully there'll be one?

    by quadrupletree

    That's kind of a strange answer...

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:24 p.m. CST

    Sweet Interview

    by jimmy_009

    Burton is great

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Karloff? Sidekick?

    by 3 Bag Enema

    FUCK YOU!!!

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:31 p.m. CST

    Nice read

    by Archduke_Chocula

    Having just watched Corpse Bride again and prepping for movie night with Mars Attacks! I enjoyed that greatly.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:34 p.m. CST

    That was ISF World Championship material...

    by HogCholera

    but yeah, good job.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 5:52 p.m. CST

    Nice job, Nordling.

    by MasterWhedon

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 6 p.m. CST

    Good interview...

    by dr_buggerlugs

    ...and good to see yet another filmmaker throw in his two cents about the turnaround on dvd releases and the emphasis (or lack of) on cinema.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 8:29 p.m. CST

    Nightmare before Christmas score......

    by Orionsangels

    Is used for trailers way too much and will be for years to come. If you make a wacky horror movie or black comedy, get ready they're gonna use that music. Danny Elfman deserves more.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 9:16 p.m. CST

    Too bad we didn't get to hear Burton's dirty joke...

    by Chief Redcock

    Bet it would've been weird as bugfuck.

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 9:57 p.m. CST

    Great interview Nordling

    by Screaming Brain

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 9:59 p.m. CST


    by ErnieAnderson

    Since he couldn't afford a microphone. Someone get this poor bastard a paycheck so he can interview celebrities with his own penis instead of a stunt cock! NORDLING, YOU ARE A SEXY BITCH!

  • Feb. 10, 2006, 10:27 p.m. CST

    How can he not ask about "Edward Penishands"?

    by fiester

    What a missed opportunity.

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 12:42 a.m. CST

    He didn't ask about how Burton felt about Batman Begins

    by Neo Zeed

    C'mon dude!!

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 3:01 a.m. CST

    I was waiting for 1 question: what went wrong on APES?

    by Spacesheik

    you didnt ask it mate

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 5:43 a.m. CST

    I'm happy for you, Nordling.

    by CoursinLarry

    If I got to talk to Tim Burton, I bet it would go something like that. Maybe I would have talked more about Ed Wood. Fuck. That movie's amazing.

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Nordling said:

    by raw_bean

    "The thing to me is that for animated films, the meticulous nature of hand-drawn and stop-motion, brings more weight to what you're seeing, as opposed to computer animation which feels rushed for me." ---- Dude, if you don't think computer animation is pain-staking and meticulous, you've not got a clue what you're talking about. Good interview though.

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Lol, 3 Bag Enema

    by raw_bean

    Karloff doesn't deserve to smell my shit!!

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Great interview!

    by Dolph

    I, too, would have liked his opinion on Batman Begins...oh, and to know why he never works with Keaton anymore (I really miss him in quality movies). Still, good job!

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 10:24 a.m. CST

    traditional vs. Computer

    by isNegative

    Having worked in both mediums, I have to agree with raw_bean with computer animation being painstaking and meticulous as well... I just think that it's a little easier for it to be rushed or made more polished looking compared to traditional animation... as for the interview, I'd be lying if I said I could do any better... although I would have tried squeezing in a tasteful question about Planet of the Apes...

  • Feb. 11, 2006, 11:56 p.m. CST

    'The last real AMERICAN communal experience"

    by half vader

    Oh for crying out loud. Get over yourself - from the the rest of the (non-jingoistic) world._______________________BTW, Corpse Bride WAS filmed digitally, with Nikon digital SLRs. At least Burton was being intelligent in saying match the medium to the message. I guess he kept quiet about Corpse Bride there because he thought it'd throw you for a loop. Although, I'm glad you did an honest interview, and didn't 'play the game' apart from the sycophantic stuff. Good work mate, just don't let your head run away with you!

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 1:49 a.m. CST


    by Dmann


  • Feb. 12, 2006, 3:19 p.m. CST

    Baseball is another American communal experience.

    by Lenny Nero

    And there, you can actually interact.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 4:03 p.m. CST

    Cool cool.

    by Jaka

    I'll give the interview a "good". Not quite a great because personally, I'd like to have fealt a little more push for info on future projects. But in the context it was given, as a person interviewing someone whose work they are clearly a fan of, it was quite good. On TB; I like his films - but I haven't loved one in quite a while. I do like that all his films are "Tim Burton" films - but I just think that recently they've been missing a bit of the magic they had at the beginning. A lot of his more recent films to me come across one of two ways; like he's searching, or coasting. I hope he continues to find films that inspire him though. Because he's definitely a unique voice in cinema.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 9:27 p.m. CST

    10 year old's opinion ..

    by Thing-Fish

    My partner's 10-year old daughter has declared Tim Burton to be the greatest movie director - she thinks he's even better than Jackson or Lucas, her other favorites. She's a cool kid.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Why Does This Remind Me of Chris Farley on SNL?

    by hipcheck13

    "Uh...remember that time in 'Nightmare Before Christmas' when the guy in the potato sack tortured Santa?" "Yes, Nordling, I remember." "Uh...that was cool!"

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:24 a.m. CST

    Not bad


    But a comic fan doing the interview, it would have been great if you had asked him if he's ever seen An Evening With Kevin Smith. Of course he probably would have hung up, so you would need to wait until the end of the interview.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Oh like any of you would have asked Tim Burton....


    Why certain movies suck while you're sitting across from him. Stop lyin'!

  • Feb. 15, 2006, 2:15 a.m. CST

    Burton always make the same film over and over

    by chien_sale

    He should do original material ans get away from Elfman and the same designs for a while.

  • Feb. 17, 2006, 9:55 p.m. CST

    Get It Right!!

    by JaPra

    Now, this is sort of crazy. Nordling did you actually forget what's happening at the box office and fail to realize WHY theater attendance is going down??? DVDs aren't a bad thing, they're coming out faster because money is being lost in theaters. Why is money being lost in theaters?? Anyone know boys and girls??? BECAUSE FUCKING TICKET PRICES ARE SKYROCKETING!!! Ticket prices and now commercials, the theater going experience is not what it's used to be and it's steadily declining. How could Nordling and Burton not have known that?? Ah well...

  • Feb. 20, 2006, 1:09 p.m. CST

    didja like corpse bride?

    by purplewarrior

    Thank for for gushing over it. I would never have guessed you liked it so much. No Seriously...I can't think of better questions to ask him...Seriously.. you suck