CHARLIE TAHAN, ROBERT CAPRON, ATTICUS SHAFFER As you have probably already read, I was one of 25 lucky bloggers who attended the Los Angeles Premiere of Frankenweenie a few weeks ago. Right before we walked the “white carpet” and saw the movie, we were able to sit down with the three
child actors young men who voiced several of the characters from Frankenweenie. Charlie Tahan (Victor Frankenstein), Robert Capron (Bob) and Atticus Shaffer (Edgor E. Gore) were all 14 years old at the time the movie premiered. I can’t even call these boys children as I stared to. All three of them were so well poised and spoke like such professionals. I know plenty of adults who are not as articulate!
I was surprised just how smart and funny they were, too.
Atticus describing when he received the call that he got the part:
I get a call and they’re like, hey, Atticus, by the way, we were just wondering, what’s the longest audition process you’ve done in a while? And I said well, Frankenweenie, that one took about a- that one had, has been going on for about a year and that one seems to be the longest. And they go, oh, you got it! After the defibrillator woke me up……[LAUGHTER]!
Charlie when asked about Director Tim Burton:
Well, he’s surprisingly normal [LAUGHTER]!
I was surprised to learn that most of the animation hadn’t even been done when the boys voiced their lines. The based their character’s personalities based on a few sketches from Tim Burton as the “puppets” were created after. They shared how the whole movie making process took about 3 years but they each only worked on it for a few weeks, broken up into a day or two at a time. They all agreed that doing voice over work is much easier than traditional acting and several of them aspire to go on to directing. These young men certainly have a long career ahead of them.
Enjoy a little bit of the interview here:
What was your favorite thing about your character?
Charlie : I think for me because you might know if you’ve seen the movie. Victor is kind of like loosely based on Tim’s childhood I think a little bit. So when it’s just like I said, he’s like been one of my favorite directors, so I was honored to be able to sort of play him.
Atticus : And, and for me, the characters that I normally play are either they are my voice, they are kind of the very calm eye in the storm characters. And some are smart, you know, they know how to figure out problems and whatnot. But then this one, he’s just so over the top. And he’s kind of like this, he’s a semi villain, he loves everything more big and over the top and, and also being able to do the impression of Peter Lorre for the voice is just awesome for me. Because I love doing impressions, I love doing accents. During the audition process they just said he’s kind of like the Igor character and I knew how to play that off. But the second or third audition into it they said if possible, do a Peter Lorre impression. And I was like this is so new for me, it’s going to test my acting abilities, I want to do this. And so my mom and I, like the home schoolers that we are, rented Maltese Falcon and we already had Casablanca. I just sat down and I really studied and that alone was just such a thrill for me.
Robert : Yeah, for me the thing I like the most about Bob is that despite the fact that he’s like a really big guy, like his character, like he’s huge. Despite the fact that he’s really big and he could very easily be like a bully, he’s not, he’s actually a very nice person. Like that was one of the things I liked about his character.
Any of you ever seen the original Frankenstein?
Charlie : Oh Frankenstein? Yeah, I think- even though I didn’t watch it all, more like bits and pieces or most of it, or versions of it, like Young Frankenstein and Barton Frankenstein. But I knew like all the references to all the horror monster movies I saw.
Atticus : I was just such a big fan of any classic black and white film because that’s where the ideas originate from. They weren’t the, the spoofs or the spinoffs or the parodies or anything. It’s just they were groundbreaking back then. I love those movies in that way. Even at night time there’ll be Turner Classic Movies I will flip through them, I’ll just see any movie I can that’s a classic. And I fall in love with it.
Robert : I was with Charlie. I haven’t seen the entire movie, but I have seen like little bits and pieces of it, and I read the original book. So that was pretty good. That was a good book.
What do you find challenging about it doing this movie?
Charlie : This is my first voice over thing ever. So I thought it was going to be a lot harder especially after I found out that I wasn’t going to be with the other cast to like read with them. For me, I think it was a little bit easier because half my scenes are with me and Sparky. I have a dog at home, I kind of just imagined that my dog was there. But it’s easier than most live action stuff. You don’t have to worry about like blocking or where to stand or hair and makeup, so you can mostly just like focus all your energy just into your voice, so it’s a little bit easier.
Atticus : Man, I love doing voice over, I mean that’s the whole reason I got into the business in the first place. I love to play with my voice. I love telling stories, being able to put myself into these new, completely new characters. And also with the fact that there is such a long list that you do have to worry about for, for theatrical, because you have wardrobe, makeup, memorizing lines, choreography, everything. But whereas you just have a small list for voiceover, which is making sure that your voice is well and you know the character voice. And also that you are able to take direction and kind of put your soul into the character, because you’re giving it the voice- especially in a Tim Burton animation. And then you give it a voice and now it’s able to talk. And then you have the animators who are able to move it, now it has motion. Then with Tim Burton and the set designers create this world that it is in.
Robert : The thing that I like about voice over is that it’s significantly easier than like actually filming. It’s like way easier, because like Atticus and Charlie said, there’s so many different variables that go into filming, because you need the lighting, you need to look good with the hair and makeup. With this the character is already made basically. So all you need to do is supply the voice. But like Charlie said, too, a challenging part of it was that you’re not actually recording with other actors. You’re just doing it by yourself. And that can be kind of weird, because you’re talking to yourself, in a way. And that may sound weird but usually somebody else will read the other lines first, and that makes it easier.
Atticus : Well I talk to myself all the time, so I already know that feeling.
Did they film you doing your part and base the animation on that?
BOYS : Yes, yes they did.
Charlie : Like Victor, or, any of our characters, didn’t actually look like ourselves. When I first saw the movie, I was little surprised that- well I wasn’t surprised, really, it’s more like interested that Victor somehow reminded me of myself. But I don’t know exactly how, but his eye movements and he just sort of reminded me of myself.
Atticus : Because it is stop motion animation and it does take such a long time to film something like that, they broke the script up into acts. So you have act one is from the first recording session and then when you come back, you kind of redo things for act one that kind of fit into the storyline more. And then you record act two and then so forth and so on until finally after act three, you just kind of come back to redo things from act three. And also maybe sound effects or grunts that you kind of need to make the characters seem more real.
How long is the process?
Charlie : Well yeah it’s three years since we started filming. I only worked like ten days on the whole movie, but it’s spread out like once every two months or so. So it wasn’t like ten days in a row.
Atticus : Yeah the thing that’s funny about working on a voiceover thing is that you may think you’re done with it and then like five months later, they’ll come back and say, oh we need like a couple extra grunts and some breathing noises.
Charlie : Exactly, I had to go call one day and just laugh once, then I had to go home.
Robert : Yeah one session I had to go into, I had to say like one line, then all I had to do was make a noise and scream.
Atticus : With voiceover there’s simplicity to it but yet such a complex world revolving around it. When you do go in and you do record all these things it’s a good solid three or four hour recording session. But that’s just because it is just your voice. You have endless amounts of tape that you can use to record and find the right way of saying the line or the perfect grunt. And being able to put that together, whereas with theatrical you do have to worry about camera positioning, running out of film and you have to reload the camera and everything like that.
What are your goals for the future?
Charlie : I don’t have any like actual like goals because if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be more sad. When I go on auditions, I don’t like to like think about it that much, I forget about it seriously.
Atticus : For me my goal is- the whole point of me getting into the business was to be a storyteller. When I grew up my mom and I would read books out loud together. We would do little character voices. Not for any thought of being in the business at all. It was just because it was fun, we love to read. And that’s just the way that we were. So being able to kind of carry that and take it into adulthood and be a form of storyteller is phenomenal. Being in this business in particular, I am the character of the story. And so I can tell the story from that perspective. But my hope is to go to college and learn how to become a director and a writer. And then be able to tell stories from that point of view. Almost like the narrator.
Robert : When I was like four years old, I was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. I know it probably seems really random, but I’m leading into it. I would memorize like every single episode of that and I would always like say it, word for word, to my family. And now afterwards, after that, I realize now that I like doing that kind of thing. And so I love acting, but I think in the future, I’d like to go into directing and writing as well. That was a really weird way to start it off, I’m sorry.
Q : Do you have a pet?
Atticus: Yes a great many, a great many where I live. I do have chickens and I do have two dogs and a rabbit and five cats. And actually over the course of being on the film, it’s grown closer to me. Because after we had finished recording and it was just before I went to see the screening of the film, a dog that we had for six years passed away. And so I became even closer to the film and I definitely knew how Victor must have felt and how a lot of people have felt. And I feel like this film is another way of tributing them. It does show that you can be that bonded to an animal or a person, or a thing. And you would go to whatever extent possible in your world to either honor them in memory or to bring them back.
Charlie: I have one pet left. Samantha the dog, I’ve had like rabbits and a hamster, and lizards before. They’re all dead now. I have a dog named Samantha.
Robert: Yeah I have three pets, I have a cat, a dog, and a rabbit.
ATTICUS SHAFFER, ROBERT CAPRON, CHARLIE TAHAN
GROUP SHOT WITH THE BLOGGERS, ROBERT CAPRON, CHARLIE TAHAN & ATTICUS SHAFFER
Disclosure: Thank you to Disney who paid for transportation, food, and accommodations for this event. No other compensation was given. All opinions are 100% my own.