Have you always wanted to do an animated film?
I’ve kind of always wanted to do it. Especially since having my first child, I’ve developed a respect and love for them. But what drew me to this was Tim. We were just commencing Charlie and he said, “I’ve got this other thing, it’s called Corpse Bride.” I read it, loved it, but it didn’t occur to me that we were going to be doing it at the same time. So you can imagine my surprise when, as I was focused on Willy Wonka, Tim arrives on set and says, “Hey, maybe tonight we’ll go and record some of Corpse Bride.” It’s like, “Sure! Of course we can! I have no character…”
So how did you approach playing Victor?
It all happened in 15 to 20 minutes, literally, as Tim and I walked over to the recording studio. Victor was born in that little bit of time. I didn’t hear him for the first time until Tim gave me the nod, like, “We’re recording now.” So the preparation for this was pretty non-existent. I should be flogged.
Is it hard finding that quality you bring to all your roles?
When I read a script, I get these images and ideas that come to me, and sometimes images of people come to me. Like Sleepy Hollow, where I kept seeing Roddy McDowall and Angela Lansbury. With Captain Jack, Keith Richards became the inspiration because I started thinking of pirates as rock stars of the time.
So I’ve enjoyed stealing little bits from people and incorporating them into characters. But there was a moment years back when I having a conversation with Marlon Brando and he said, “Listen man, how many movies do you do a year?” I said, “Two, sometimes three.” He said, “You gotta watch yourself. We only have so many faces in our pockets.” And, you know, all this time later, I realise how right he was.
Do you and Tim Burton bring out the best in each other?
I think he’s a genius, and that’s not a word that you can throw around very easily. Our working relationship is, as you can imagine, weird. Crew guys have come up to me and said, “I just watched you and Tim discussing the scene and I had no idea what you were talking about.” But most of the time, all I’m trying to do is make him laugh. I just want to see, in my peripheral vision, his hunched over figure giggling.
Victor’s not entirely sure whether he should stay with the Corpse Bride or go back to Victoria. How was that to play?
The funny thing is I really found myself with that dilemma. I choked a lot recording it because I really felt, “Man, I know Victoria is fantastic but the Corpse Bride is so magnificent. She is wildly sexy and beautiful.”
Are you bringing anything new to Jack Sparrow for Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 and 3?
I’m just going to try and be funny. I never quite understood the idea of doing sequels until Pirates. As an actor you think, “I’ve played this character for months and I’ve really gotten to love the guy,” and then the clock starts ticking and you know the end is coming, which means you’ll never see him again. So you start to get depressed. With Jack Sparrow, though, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might see him again. Selfishly, I was so excited to come back for Pirates 2 and 3 because I wanted to meet up with him again. It’s a very strange situation when, as a grown man, you start having separation anxiety with an imaginary character. It’s worrisome...