It’s not often you see a director dream team. Often one is hands-off as a producer, shepherding or “godfathering” the film to the screen with the director’s vision. Other times, it’s a collaboration bourne out of years and years of familiarity. And yet, “The Adventures Of Tintin” unites Academy Award-winning blockbuster helmers Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson to bring the story of Herge’s beloved comic strip creation to life.
Speaking on the red carpet premiere for “The Adventures Of Tintin,” Spielberg confirmed that he had long been a fan of Jackson, who started in the world of oddball genre work with the gruesomely gory “Dead Alive” and the demented puppet saga “Meet The Feebles.” “I saw a lot of his films before that,” Spielberg says, discussing Jackson’s breakout with the multi-billion “The Lord Of The Rings” series.
“I loved Peter, thought he was a brand new voice, an original voice, and we all thought he was going to do great things,” he continued. “I remember [Robert] Zemeckis, I had sponsored him, and he turned around and sponsored Peter with ‘The Frighteners.’ So we all had a hand pulling each other up in life.” And while ‘Tintin’ still exists within the Spielberg adventure framework he established in the early days of Amblin, it also retains that flavorful Jackson-style slapstick. Spielberg credits Jackson with teaching him about these touches of humor, emphasizing that while working with Jackson, “I learned how to be funnier!”
What’s surprising is that the two of them had such an easy time getting along, particularly working with the actors. Nick Frost, who plays one of the Thompson twins in the film, says that it was a set of, “Extreme ease. It would just be me, Simon [Pegg], Daniel Craig and Tintin, just hanging out in front of the camera. Very easy.” Frost claims he’ll re-team with ‘Tintin’ co-writer Edgar Wright “possibly next year” on a follow-up to “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” though he’s “ready to go” on future ‘Tintin’ installments.
Veteran voice actor Enn Reitel, who plays dual roles of Mr. Crabtree and Nestor, calls the experience, “the most relaxed atmosphere I’ve ever been in. Steven knows exactly what he wants when he wants it.” When asked for a degree of difficulty, he volunteered, “Remarkably easy. It’s kind of like doing a filmed radio play,” he explains. “Because with the motion capture you’re wearing this kind of wetsuit, and you have dots all over your face and a crash helmet and a camera in front of your face that mitigates movement. So it takes all the pressure away because you don’t have to worry about hitting your mark and looking this way, that way. Makes it easier to work with. I think that’s why these directors enjoy doing it, it makes [the film] more of a directors’ medium.”
While Spielberg and Jackson will switch roles next time around, he’s also busy with a number of producing projects. One of them is the long-rumored “Jurassic Park IV.” But don’t try to hit him up for information about the film. While he claims, “We’re developing a fourth one with Universal,” he cautions, “We’re all in a period of discovery about that right now.”
“The Adventures Of Tintin” opens December 23rd in the United States.