Tim Burton

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Interviewed by Anwar Brett

“After watching the Teletubbies and The Wiggles, I just have a much cheerier outlook. I'm a happy person! ”

Since his breakthrough film Beetlejuice, shock-haired director Tim Burton has brought a distinctly macabre touch to a succession of movies, from Batman to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Before they brought Roald Dahl's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory back to the big screen he worked with Johnny Depp on Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow and the soon to be released animated tale Corpse Bride. Burton's other films include Big Fish, Planet Of The Apes, Mars Attacks! and Batman Returns. He had a son, Billy Ray, with partner Helena Bonham Carter in October 2003.

You shot Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on real sets built at Pinewood Studios as opposed to using a lot of CGI. Was that a big help to you and your cast?

That was one of the things that was important to me because it's a movie about texture. That's what I remember from the original book, the feeling of the description and the textures. It was important for us to have them be real, and not be stuck in a blue room for six months. And a couple of the kids hadn't done movies or anything, so having real sets was really important.

This version of Roald Dahl's story fits in neatly with the other films you've made with Johnny Depp but they tend to exist in quite extreme situations don't they?

We've got lots of problems, and we like to work them out in films!

How important was it to have the co-operation of the Dahl family and his widow Felicity on this movie?

Very important. I was more nervous of showing them the movie even than the studio because it was their baby. I was really nervous, but they were great all the way through. Felicity's really a great person.

What do you say to the suggestions that Johnny's Willy Wonka bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson?

Actually that's false. We based it on LaToya.

You cast one actor, Deep Roy, as all of the Oompa-Loompas. How come?

One way to do it would be to hire a cast of Oompa-Loompas, or the more modern approach would probably be to do them all CG. But I felt the human element was still important to it. Deep looks like an Oompa-Loompa to me. Also it seemed to fit with the Roald Dahl universe. There's something weird about it that seemed appropriate to me.

What would you say to Roald Dahl if he turned up today?

It's hard to imagine, because if he showed up you'd kind of go 'Shouldn't you go back into your grave? This isn't Night of the Living Dead' - I'd be shocked, you know.

In the last few years your films seem to have become less dark. What do you put this down to - parenthood, perhaps?

Yeah, it's watching the Teletubbies and The Wiggles. I just have a much cheerier outlook. I'm a happy person!

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is released in UK cinemas on Friday 29th July 2005.