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SDCC2012: A Roundtable Interview with "ParaNorman" Star Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Christophe Mintz-Plasse at the Festival Du Cinema Americain De Deauville 2011
Photo by Philippe Berdalle, Some Rights Reserved

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays Alvin in ParaNorman, made his film debut as Fogell, better known as “McLovin” in 2007’s Superbad, which earned him a nomination for the MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Performance.  He also performed in Role Models, Year One, Fright Night, and Kick-Ass, which earned him a Teen Choice Award nomination.  He provided the voice for Fishlegs in How to Train Your Dragon and will be appearing in the sequel.

At the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, Toonzone News sat down with Mintz-Plasse for a roundtable interview session with several other members of the press. Questions we asked are marked.

Q: How did you come upon this project? What was it about being part of the Laika universe that appealed to you?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: They came to me, actually, which was really exciting because they offered me this role straight up. I’ve never done any sort of bullying character like this in the past, so for them to just offer that to me was really exciting.  Stop-motion movies, they’re rare in a way, there’s not many of them, whereas CGI or animated movies, there’s one every weekend pretty much, and there’s sequels coming out all the time, so I’ve done that already and I wanted to be part of something that’s rare like Coraline.  Before that, Corpse Bride, and before that, it was like Nightmare Before Christmas.  It’s hard, you can count them all on one hand, so I really wanted to do something that hasn’t been done a lot, and they offered me the role and I went in and did my job and it was fun.

Q: When you audition for something like that, do they give you sides?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: They didn’t even have me audition, they just said, “We want you to do it.”  Yeah, and I was like, “All right, that’s risky guys.  I can really mess this up.”  I went in and just came in with my own voice and they loved it and they let me do it.

Q: Had you seen a picture of what the character looked like before you did the voice?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: My first day I went in to do my session, they had a picture, so yeah, they offered me the job, and then a month later, I went in and did my session and saw it just looks like a fat version of me, which is great, because I’ve always wondered what that would look like. From there we did all our dialogue first and they start animating around you, which is great.

TOONZONE NEWS: Is there anything in particular that surprised you about the role?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: What a doofus he is.  He’s such a moron, it’s really exciting to play, and it’s really cool because the whole movie has an underlying theme of bullying, so the first half an hour is me bullying Norman. Then later on…I think that’s why the kids will like this…the zombies are not there to eat the people, they’re there because of a curse.  So they start getting bullied by the townspeople and it’s kind of like a 180 and you start feeling bad for the zombies. I think the young children are really going to like about that.

Q: We talked about all the different faces that they used.  If you had to pick one just face for your character that’s your favorite, what expression is that of his? 

:: Mintz-Plasse makes a face::

Q: How would you describe that?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Moron who’s never gotten laid and just thinks he’s way cooler than he is and likes to put other people down and make himself feel good.

Q: So you like the look on his face when he’s at the top of his game?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, yeah, exactly.  I want him to just rap.  Hold it out.

::Mintz-Plasse strikes a rap pose::

ParaNorman and AlvinQ: I brought this up with Anna, you do your ADR and the animators do their job. Seeing finished pieces of your voice with your character, was there anything said one way and they took it physically in a different direction than I was imaging it?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Um, I don’t think so.  It’s really hard to imagine what way they’re going to take it.  I thought it was really cool that they film you the whole time you’re doing your lines because they like to see what gestures you do and how your face reacts to the lines and to the screams and a lot of that they put in the characters.  Like a lot of my arm gestures made it in and a lot of my facial expressions.  Like if you see the poster or something, I think he’s doing that face.  He’s doing that, so it’s really exciting to know that you helped build the character.  That you like it’s crazy they film every session that you’re in, it’s awesome.

Q: We’re here at Comic Con. Is there anything you’re amped to check out?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I wish I could see Pacific Rim.  I wish, but I leave tomorrow, and I’m working until like six tonight, so I don’t get to see anything.  It’s a bummer.  What about you guys, anything you’re stoked to see?

Q: Pacific Rim.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Right?

Q: Giant robots, giant monsters.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I know.

Q: Djangno Unchained tomorrow morning.  Quentin’s going to be there.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: That’s going to be great too.  See, I can’t do it.  You guys are lucky, you get to witness it all.

Q: Were you able to take a puppet of the character?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I do, I have an Alvin–it’s weird, it’s just my face and my chest.  No arms and no legs, so it’s this weird Alvin hanging in my house, but it’s nice, it looks cool.

An ear's to you, Mrs. Robinson!Q: We were talking about the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse. If something like that occurs, which of the guys in the group would you be?  Would you be weapons guy, tech guy?  How do you think you’d react?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I think I’d be really calm and try to figure out ways to get food, that would be my first thought.  Get enough food and post up in one spot for a super long time, wait for it to happen, wait for it to clear by. Get some weapons, of course, got to have weapons, and just wait for it to pass by and then hopefully Zombieland it and just kind of travel, see what happens.

Q: What’s the go-to weapon to fight off zombies?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Aw man, do you guys play Left For Dead, does anybody play that?  I love that you can pick up anything. I just bought a new bass and it’s what Paul McCartney plays, it’s the Hofner, and it’s so light. I just hold it, and I just want to smack someone in the head with it so bad. Which is weird that I want to do that now that I say that out loud.  I think that would be my go-to weapon. My bass.

Q: Is there any word on Kick-Ass 2?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, I think, no papers have been signed, but we’re going to start shooting in September.  Very excited for that.  I play the Motherfucker in this one.  I’m going to start working out and get beefed up for that role.  It’s going to be good.

Q: Based on this experience you’ve had with this, is it something you want to continue, maybe, actively go out for animated roles?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: It’s funny, I’ve never reached out for animated projects, they’ve all reached out for me.  They really liked my voice in Superbad and Role Models and Kick Ass and they came to me. How to Train Your Dragon, Marmaduke, and this one.  They all reached out to me, and I have a great time doing it, so I would love to keep doing it.

Q: How long was the process for this one for you?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: First session I went in for three hours, didn’t go in for another four months after that.  Did another session after that was like two months and then that was the long haul. I think after that session was like five months and that’s when they flew me out to Portland to do my last one.  It’s such a long process, it’s crazy.

Q: While you were in Oregon did you visit–?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: The set?

Q: The actual set.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, that’s why they flew me out there. They interviewed me, you get to see how it’s all done. They shoot fifty scenes at once in small little blocked off areas, and it’s so beautiful, you don’t realize it, that the whole movie is just pictures. I knew it, but then I didn’t really believe it until I saw it, just fifty you know, Canon 5D’s sitting around, and they just click the button, move the arm just a little bit, take another click, and there’s no acting, there’s no moving, it blows my mind. It’s just a bunch of pictures put together for two hours and it’s incredible.

Q: What’s blowing your mind this summer?  What’s your go-to when summer time comes?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Like what am I excited to see?

Q: Yeah, like during the year, would we be shocked to find out you like more independent movies than you would The Avengers?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I’ll see them all, man. The last year at Comic Con, I got the best gift in the world, which is an AMC gift card and you can see any movie any day for free, and you can see a movie seven times in one day and it’ll be free any time, so I’ll see any movie now. I’ll see Magic Mike, guys, all right? Whatever, it’s free. But no, I’ve been catching up on some classics I haven’t seen like Heat, which is amazing. King of Comedy, which, I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but it’s unbelievable. De Niro and Scorsese had the best run.

Q: Jerry Lewis’ best movie.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Yeah, it’s amazing. I haven’t seen The Goonies, which is my next one, and Magnolia, I have right in my DVD player right now, so I’m really catching up on movies I haven’t seen. But I can’t wait for The Dark Knight Rises, I love The Avengers, I love stuff like that too.

ParaNorman PenderghastQ: What about zombie movies?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Love zombie movies.

Q: You got a favorite?

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Probably the Dawn of the Dead remake. I thought Zack Snyder did an incredible job with it, it was so scary. I love 28 Days Later because it’s not a typical zombie movie. Shaun of the Dead is great, and then there’s like, you know, Anna said one there’s a shark that fights a zombie.

Q: Zombi 2.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: I gotta see that.  I have to see that.

Q: Dead Alive.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Dead Alive, is that what it’s called?  Or is that just a good one?  Okay, will do, definitely.  Thanks guys, have a good one.

Toonzone News would like to thank Christopher Mintz-Plasse for taking the time to speak with us, and the Laika/ParaNorman PR team for arranging it. ParaNorman will open in theaters on August 17, 2012.

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