Steve Buscemi is no stranger to the world of animation, being last heard in the photo-realistic Final Fantasy. But as a villainous monster in Disney’s Monsters Inc, Buscemi is clearly having the time of his life. Known for his darkly comic sensibilities, Buscemi has at last made a film to which he can take his son, as he proudly confessed to Paul Fischer.
Question: How would you describe the experience of doing animation?
Answer: It’s interesting, and requires a lot of faith in your directors, which I did, and I really trusted him with what THEY were doing, and the film that they wanted to make, and it was a lot of fun.
Question: How did the experience of making Monsters compare to the experience of doing Final Fantasy?
Answer: The character of Randall was a little bit more over the top, while the character in Final Fantasy well, he was a little bit of an excitable character, but one was human and the other was a monster, so I guess playing the monster meant you had a bit more freedom to go over-the-top.
Question: Were there any different TECHNICAL challenges in both cases?
Answer: Not for me. For me, it was just a voice. The process is really the same.
Question: Did they look at you or your mannerisms before completely formulating the character?
Answer: When you are recording the voice, even before you are doing it to picture, they videotape you doing it to see the expressions on your face, and I think they DO try and incorporate some of that.
Question: How surprised are you by the final creation of this character? Do you play any kind of role in overseeing the development of the character while the film is in production?
Answer: They pretty well showed me what the character was going to look like from the very beginning. I liked the character and thought he looked great. I liked the big eyes and the fact that he was this lizard-like monster.
Question: Did the scope of the character or anything about him change as you went through the process of revoicing him?
Answer: I just remember his name changed, but I can’t remember what his original name was. I don’t remember there being too many changes with the character. I can tell you that this is a process of over 2 years so you kind of do it, then you do the first session, then you forget about it then you come back and sometimes it was hard to remember where I was in the story or how it was progressing. So Pete really had to keep me informed about what was going on, so it was a very abstract way of acting, but I enjoyed it.
Question: How long did you record?
Answer: Over a period of 2 years.
Question: Where did your monsters hide?
Answer: DEFINITELY under the bed. When I was that young, I shared the bed with my two brothers and we definitely talked about the monsters being under the bed. You’d be afraid to let your arm drop down and hang off; that was way too scary.
Question: Where was this?
Answer: In Brooklyn. Also, I remember being afraid of the headlights that came in through the window late at night and just the way the lights would travel across the bed and up the walls and ceiling. It was explained to me it was just a car, but for some reason that was just eerie.
Question: What were some of YOUR favourite animated films growing up?
Answer: Pinocchio was a lot of fun, because I liked the songs in it. It was also scary as well having jokes in it that my parents appreciated. I just LOVED that character and the song ‘An Actor’s Life for Me’.
Question: Are you excited about your children seeing Monsters Inc?
Answer: I have one son and we saw a screening of it, he brought a friend and they were very excited about seeing it before it was released. They really loved it. It’s nice to be able to do something that my son can actually see, that most of the stuff I do he’s gonna have to wait till he’s 17.
Question: Does doing an animated movie like Monsters, bring out the child in you?
Answer: Yeah. I mean acting in general is very childlike because you’re pretending to be somebody else, so it doesn’t matter what the situation is, or how serious the film is, I think acting IS very childlike, and this is just pure fun, and it probably DOES bring out the child in you a little bit more.
Question: Is it more liberating doing an animated film?
Answer: Yeah, and also knowing that it’s for kids gives you that extra little boost of energy or excitement in wanting to do a good job and not wanting to let the kids down. I remember when I was a kid and watching these films, you just wanted to totally believe it. So even though it’s a lot of fun, it’s an acting job that I take very seriously because I want the character to be as real as possible, even though it’s a fantasy film and you’re playing a monster.
Question: In your opinion, what is the central theme or message that you want people to get out of this film?
Answer: I’m terrible when it comes to figuring out what a message is, but I guess it would be to face and overcome your fears.
Question: You’re doing deeds with Adam [Sandler]. Is that also a cameo or a more major part?
Answer: I’d say it was about the same. I think every film I’ve ever done with Adam, I’ve only worked on it for a couple of days, but this is a really fun film. I do it because I really like Adam and like working with him. I think he’s a really talented and funny guy, and he writes these funny characters for me which I enjoy I do it because I want to do it. It’s one of those gigs that’s short and it’s fun.
Question: Who are you in Deeds?
Answer: I play a guy named Crazy Eyes who’s just one of the locals in the town where Adam’s character lives. I don’t want to give too much away but he’s got crazy guys.
Question: Was Crazy Eyes in the original [Mr Deeds Goes to Town]?
Answer: I don’t think so. It’s not really a faithful remake.
Question: What else are you working on?
Answer: There are a couple of things coming out, like Tom Di Cillo’s Double Whammy, in which I play Dennis Leary’s police detective partner. I just did a film for Alex Rockwell where I play a clown who’s losing his sense of humour. There’s also The Grey Zone, which is the story of the Auschwitz’s twelfth Sonderkommando – one of the thirteen consecutive ‘Special Squads’ of Jewish prisoners placed by the Nazis in the excruciating moral dilemma of helping to exterminate fellow Jews in exchange for a few more months of life. That was a gratifying film to work on, and a very brave one to make, I think and one I’m really proud of.