Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. I was lucky enough to visit Pinewood where there were
some amazing sets, so I just wondered, for all four of you, what
that meant having those real sets to work with as opposed to more
A. Well, it’s like this. It’s really nice
to have real fake grass! We were very lucky to be able to build
sets. I mean that was one of the things that was important to
me just because it’s a movie about texture, that’s
what I remember from the original book - the feeling and the descriptions
and the textures. So it was important for us to kind of have them
be real and not be stuck in a blue room for six months so we could
experience the sets and all of that.
Q. At what point did you decide to have just one person
playing all the Oompa Loompas as that was a decision that was
very noticeable in the film?
A: Well it seemed like there were three ways to go with
it. One was hire a cast of Oompa Loompas, or the more modern approach
would be to do them all CG. But I just felt the human element
was still important to it, you know? Deep (Deep Roy) looks like
an Oompa Loompa to me. [Laughter].
It also just seemed to fit with the Roald Dahl kind of universe,
there was something kind of weird about it that seemed appropriate
Q. Do you and Johnny have the perfect working relationship?
A: It’s not something we discuss over coffee, we
don’t discuss our perfect working relationship [laughter].
We have a good time and try to take it seriously enough because
we are spending other people’s money. It’s always
a pleasure because he loves dressing up in funny clothing and
costumes, it’s great.
Q: Did you think you had enough free rein even within
the Hollywood constructs do to exactly what you wanted with this
film or was there a darker place where you wanted to go?
A: The studio was really good. Luckily we had the book,
we never felt that we wanted to stray and make it darker than
the book or lighter than the book. Our goal was to make it tonally
as close to the book as we could. We had that source material
and that was the common ground I think that made it.
Q: In your last few movies, I could not find that darkness
that was present in your work before that. What has changed in
A: Watching the Tellytubbies and The Wiggles! [Laughter]
I just have a much cheerier outlook on life. I’m just a
Q. I thought your re-imagining of the film was much closer
in spirit to the book than the 1971 version. I thought the way
the children were dispatched one by one was very satisfyingly
done. What extra elements did you put into that?
A: We tried to keep close to the book. The only thing
we added that wasn’t in the book was the Wonka back story.
But everything else was trying to be to the spirit of the book
‘cos the reason we all wanted to do the film was because
of the book, rather than the other film. He was such an amazing
writer, you know. We wanted to try to capture his humour and light
and dark and emotion that he puts into one package, so we tried
to go for the book.
Q: I like the humour of Mike Teavee possibly going into
2001: A Space Odyssey...
A: We would have sent him there sooner if we could! No,
they’re all really good kids.
Q: Did you use the old film as a reference point at all?
A: No, no. I know for a lot of people it’s a classic
film but it never had that impact on me. The writer said “Should
I look at that?” and I said “No, just read the book”.
So no, we didn’t.
Q: You shot as many scenes as possible on set but did
the CGI animation make it possible that you really could really
fulfil your vision?
A: We tried to use it minimally. It was important to
have sets that we built - the town, the factory, the rooms. Everything.
Obviously, you use some CG. But the mandate was always to keep
it as minimal as possible.
Q: Tim and Johnny, you both
have small children. Do you let them play computers as much as
they like? Freddie how were you raised? Is there anything your
parents pointed out?
Burton: Mine’s too young, he’s not quite
there yet. I don’t know yet. I’m banning The Wiggles!
Depp: I’m disappointed that my kids are
now growing out of The Teletubbies and The Wiggles and I want
to continue watching them! [Laughter] So I just will.
Burton: I’ll send you all the copies.
Q: I know Tim and Johnny you’ve collaborated on
five films together if you count Corpse Bride and Freddie and
Johnny, you’ve worked together. What do you find are the
advantages or disadvantages, if there are any, of working with
the same people over and over?
Burton: Well for me every time I’ve worked with
Johnny it just gets better and better because you see him change
and do different things. There’s something that when you
work with the same people you get that feeling, and I love it
because it’s like a weird family when you’re making
a movie, so it’s nice to be around people you like.
Depp: There’s kind of a built in language
from having had other experiences together before, having explored
other stories and characters before. So, it’s great for
me. Working with Tim is like arriving home. It’s a very
comfortable place for me.
Q: Why did you choose to show more of a story, with the
flashbacks, of Willy Wonka? Do you think it took more of the mystery
A: Obviously, that’s not in the book, but we, or
at least me, sort of thought that when you see an eccentric character
if you don’t get a flavour of why he’s eccentric,
then he’s just a weird guy.
We wanted to show a little bit of that to get a flavour of that
without destroying the mystique of the character. The great thing
about the Wonka character is that you’re never quite sure
about him. That was an important quality to maintain. You get
a little bit of the flavour of his background without destroying
the, you know, ‘What’s up with this guy? Is he good?
Is he bad?’ You know, the mystery of the character.
Q: If you had chosen to ignore the back story, do you
thing you would have focused more on other characters, such as
Burton: No. The book doesn’t explain his eccentricity.
I think that if you would’ve just let Johnny act that way
without any explanation as to why the guy is so sort of cut off
at a certain level, then you would never get that. So we tried
to keep it in the spirit of Dahl’s work even though it wasn’t
in the book.
Depp: As an actor, it’s the kind of thing
that you try to put in your homework, you know, that kind of back
story, even if it isn’t on the page or in the film. This
was a sort of great luxury into the history, the back story of
Wonka. It was really helpful, not just for me as the actor, but
also for the audience. It was a really brave move.
Q: Do you have some kind of plan to adapt your Oyster
Boy comics and bring it to the screen?
A: Oh, it’s just crying out for the big screen.
[Laughter] Big action movie… Oyster Boy. Yeah, what do you
think? He’s a real pearl. No plans at the moment.
Q: How important was it that the Dahl family cooperated
with the production? Widow (Felicity) Dahl was consulted all the
way through wasn’t she?
A: I was more nervous showing them the movie than the
studio just because it’s their baby, so to speak. I was
really nervous, but they were great all the way through. She’s
really a great person.
Q: Tim did you train forty squirrels to crack the nuts
and throw them down the chute?
A: I did not personally train 40 squirrels, there is
a guy in an asylum that we gotta go get out after he’s recovered.
Do you remember the look on his face?
David Kelly: He’s in the Home for the Bewildered.
Burton: He’ll be let out of the hospital
in about six months.
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