Kam Williams | 12/12/2012, 9 a.m.
An interesting thing about the movie and the books is that they were both being developed at the same time. The books’ author, Bill Joyce, in his talks with the studio, said, “It would be really cool if I could do a series of books about the origins of these characters, how they came to be and their back stories while you guys were simultaneously developing a movie about the first time they all came together.” So, they’re all the same characters and they share the same mythology, but the movie and the books are pretty different.
What message do you want children to take away from your movie?
The main message of the film is that you have the power to create magic through your imagination and to bring it into the world, whether that’s in the form of the Guardian characters who represent a lot of things we need, or whether it’s just anybody creating something. That is the best way to fight fear. That’s probably the central idea of the movie.
Why did you tweak these familiar characters, like giving Santa a Russian accent and making him look a little different from what we’ve come to expect?
The basic idea behind the books was to suggest that you grew up with a made-up version of all these characters, as if there’s a secret world alongside our world, and we’ve never known the whole truth about it. What you see in the movie and the books is the real truth about what these guys are. And it’s pretty cool, more like a Lord of the Rings kind of epic, fantasy world they all operate in as opposed to the cute, fluffy image you get from greeting cards. That was the central idea of the books. We thought that was pretty interesting and a really fresh way to get people to take another look at these characters.
Are you ever afraid?
Of course! Are you kidding? [Laughs] But you have to realize that fear is something that lives in your mind, just like all the positive things that reside there. The key is to try to find a balance or a way for the positive to at least cancel out what the fear is telling you. Most of the time, fear is taking something that sounds very rational and blowing it out of proportion, and letting your mind run away with it.
Will your next film be live-action or animated?
I don’t know. So much depends on how this one is received and how well it does. I’d love to make another animated film, because I feel like I’m really just beginning to learn how to use all these tools. It’s a real experience working in a big studio system. It’s like learning how to command a battleship.