Next year (2003) is the 10th Anniversary of the release of The
Nightmare Before Christmas [NmBC]. What are your thoughts on
its continued success?
G.S.: This is one project I felt was a classic the first time I
saw a rough cut. Tim invited a small group (Catherine O'Hara, Bo
Welch, Jeff Jones and me) to a private screening in the late summer
of 1993. The effect was immediate. Tim's spirit explodes throughout
this film. I'm not at all surprised about this one. Burton imagined
this world and he and Henry Selick brought it to the screen with
the dedicated help of an incredible collection of talented artists
and filmmakers. Everyone involved is proud of the results.
This plate was designed for auction for the Birmingham
AIDS Outreach 2007. It brought in a nice big chunk
S.F.: Did you have
to audition for the voice of The Mayor of Halloween Town?
G.S.: No, Tim was very familiar with my loud mouth! I was in his
pool and he was in the Jacuzzi nearby one Sunday afternoon in the
summer of 1991 when he yelled down to me, "Hey Glenn, you got
a big voice. Wanna do the Mayor in Nightmare?" I wasted no
time yelling back, "Sure!" And that was that.
S.F.: Do you know
anything about the evolution of The Mayor as a character?
G.S.: Yes, in fact, among the images Tim provided for this section
of my site is an early version of The Mayor as an insect-like creation
with like eight legs and another "slimmer" Mayor as well.
But by the time the part was given to me he had the exchangeable
had gained a few pounds [laughter].
S.F.: The Mayor has
a voice that reflects his double personality extremely well, how'd
you come up with it?
G.S. [laughter] I do have a story about that. The happy, confident
Mayor was a breeze. I just pulled out a twisted mixture of my good
time Southern politicians, but for the anxiety ridden, unhappy Mayor
my inspiration was Karen Black. Yes, Karen Black. Remember Airport
75? Well, Karen has a line as the stewardess forced to take
controls of the plane. She does her famous eye-crossed grimace and
says in a high- pitched voice "I can't fly a plane!" I
found that by imitating Karen saying that line I could get the perfect
character for the fearful, pessimistic Mayor. I would literally
be in the booth saying her line out loud over and over before switching
to the pouty Mayor. I would even cross my eyes!
S.F.: What do you
know about the origins of the ideas for the film?
G.S.: It all bubbled out of Tim Burton. I know that. He originally
developed the idea while at Cal Arts and made an attempt to have
it produced on television during his tenure as an animator at Disney.
At the time Disney was not so keen on the idea. It was too dark
for the people in power at the time. When it was finally made as
a Touchtone feature it was still treated as a stepchild by Disney.
They do, however, seem to have finally warmed up to it. In a big
way as a matter of fact.
S.F.: Speaking of
Disney, last fall Jack Skellington invaded Disneyland and turned
the Haunted Mansion into his own twisted vision of Halloween and
G.S.: Oh yes, Disney's all over it now. I think it had to prove
itself with the public before Walt's company felt safe to embrace
its offbeat, dark quirkiness. But embrace it they finally have!
S.F.: I really enjoyed
it and was quite surprised with how well it turned out. It seems
as though Disney spared no expense, which is a rarity these days.
Did you get a chance to go through it?
G.S: Yes I did. I was
asked to come to the park in Anaheim for the opening ceremonies.
There was a panel discussion and slide show with Henry Selick, Rick
Hienrick, Chris Sarandon, Frank Thompson and I, then we toured the
redecorated Haunted Mansion. [The Mansion] was spectacular and it
seems it was such a success that it is now going to happen annually.
In fact, I will be appearing at The Fantasyland Theater this
coming October 3rd 2002 at 7pm for another panel discussion with
a few surprises, I'm told. This event will open this year's Nightmare
Before Christmas Haunted Mansion and kick off the "NIGHTMARE"
S.F.: What was the recording process like for you?
G.S.: This was my first experience with any kind of animation and
I was not sure what to expect. Surprising to me was the fact that
there was no read-thru where the entire cast met and read the script
together. It was all done individually. I recorded all of the mayor's
dialogue with Henry Selick in the first few sessions and then over
the next two years I came in for various fine tuning as well as
the musical numbers which were conducted by Danny Elfman.
is the only movie that required you to sing, what was that like?
G.S.: God bless Danny Elfman! He was so patient. I actually have
a decent baritone singing voice but was untrained and technically
inexperienced back in '93. Danny made the process fun and guided
me through the songs. [singing in a LOW register] "Making Christmas,
Making Christmas, is so fine!"
S.F.: Where did the recording sessions take place?
G.S.: Most of the early sessions were done at The Skellington Production
Offices in San Francisco. Later on there were pick-ups in Los Angeles
studios and all the musical numbers were recorded in Los Angeles.
S.F.: Tim Burton produced
NmBC but didn't direct it which leaves to question just how much
of the movie he was involved with. Setting the record straight,
was this a Tim Burton film or a Henry Selick film?
G.S.: It was quite literally both. Tim created the world and Henry
brought it to life. Tim would have gone mad with the slowness of
directing stop-motion animation. Henry has more patient for that
sort of process. It is very much Tim's creation and Henry did a
magnificent job executing and contributing to Tim's original concept.
S.F.: Here's the inevitable
sequel question: will there be one?
G.S.: Not that I know about. There's been talk, of course. There's
always talk about sequels when a film is a success. I think it's
all there. Why do another, really? I mean, there are so many projects
for Tim to tackle. I think Jack Skellington hijacking Thanksgiving
would be a real turkey
sorry, I couldn't help myself! But,
seriously, it's like Beetlejuice as far as I'm concerned.
Each is complete without additional chapters created just to rake
S.F.: Are you saying
you wouldn't do a sequel?
GS: Heavens no, I'm not saying that! [laughter] Should Tim want
me to reprise ANY character I would jump at the chance. Working
with him is such joy and he would never do a project unless he had
fresh dynamite to detonate.
S.F.: Do you have
any NmBC trivia for us?
G.S.: Well there is an amusing outtake I've heard about from Clive
Matthews [author of TIM BURTON from Virgin Film Books]. It's
apparently included on the DVD. The vampires playing ice hockey
with a Jack-o-Lantern were originally intended to be playing with
a severed human head modeled to look like Tim's. But it was decided
this was going a bit too far. I have to get the DVD and take a look!
S.F.: When we talked
about Beetlejuice you mentioned that you didn't get a "Handbook
for the Recently Deceased" prop because it was stolen from
the set. I hope you managed to secure a few props from Halloween
G.S.: I was promised one of the handbooks from Beetlejuice
and it did disappear and I am still a little peeved now that you
mention it. The folks at Skellington Productions sent me
the Mayor's Megaphone and badge as well as the scroll from which
he read his proclamations.
S.F.: Would you like
to do more voice-over work?
G.S.: Actually Nightmare opened the door to a lot of work. I've
done dozens of cartoons and currently recur on Lloyd In Space,
Jackie Chan, The Mask, Da Mob and a few more that
are on and off the air. Tim and I had fun with his Internet series
STAINBOY for which I did a number of characters including
"Sgt. Glen Dale" of the Burbank Police Department.
S.F.: Final question:
Any upcoming projects with Burton?
GS: Hmmm. Nothing I can talk about. I do promise this, you will
be the first to hear when I CAN talk about it!