Interview with Tim Burton

On working with puppets, his wife and Johnny Depp...

Helena Bonham Carter said you made her audition and then wait two weeks to see if she’d got the role, even though you live together...
She’s making it more dramatic than it was. There was a little bit of torture there but, you know, it’s a two-way street! Maybe because I’m with her I was a little harder on her than I would be with somebody else. Nobody else had to audition, that’s true. But Helena’s cool about it. She’s very secure with herself.

Was your working relationship with Johnny Depp different on Corpse Bride?
Well, it was weird because we were doing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at the same time so he’d be Willy Wonka by day and Victor by night. It might have been a little schizophrenic for him but he’s great. It’s the first animated movie he’s done, so we just treated it like a fun and creative process. The joy of working with him is that he’s up for anything.

Johnny said he had about 15 minutes to scramble his character together before you started the voiceover work.
We were shooting Charlie and one day I said, “Let’s go to the recording studio and do some of Corpse Bride.” We were walking over and he’s like, “Shit… what am I doing? Where is this character? I have no idea.” But he likes to work spontaneously too so in that one session he got it. He was a bit worried to begin with but I think he kind of likes that feeling.

You see Corpse Bride’s three main characters as outcasts. Do you see the actors who play them as outcasts too?
Yeah. I mean, Johnny definitely. That’s one of the reasons I responded to him when I first met him on Edward Scissorhands. He was looked upon then as a handsome leading man, yet I don’t think he felt that way. That’s why he wanted to do Edward Scissorhands: he understood that thing of being perceived as one thing and being something else.

And Helena?
She’s completely misperceived. If you read the London papers, she’s referred to as one of the worst dressed people in the history of Britain, or a posh aristocrat. It bothers her a little bit but once you get labelled there’s really not much you can do about it.

Mark Wahlberg said he wouldn’t make Planet Of The Apes if he was offered it again, and he said you wouldn’t either. Is that true?
Well, I like challenges where you do things that you know you shouldn’t do, even though you know it might be looked on as a mistake. I loved working with him, so I’d do that again, but I try not to look back in retrospect and say, “I shouldn’t have done this”. You make your choices and I stand by mine.