I don’t know what it is about stop-motion animation, but it seems to lend itself to creepy stories for adults and kids alike. Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, and now ParaNorman. In ParaNorman, Norman is a shy, quiet kid, often bullied for his love of zombie movies and his ability to see and talk to ghosts. Of course, he won’t be teased when he saves his town from a witch’s curse that has the dead rising from the grave. We spoke to Tucker Albrizzi who plays Neil, Norman’s only friend. He told us about working on ParaNorman - that is, what he can remember. They filmed it over two years ago!
Tell me about Neil.
Neil is Norman’s only friend. He thinks it’s awesome that Norman can talk to ghosts. Neil is incredibly loyal and quirky, and he is not bothered by it. Nothing ever gets him down.
Are you a fan of scary movies?
I like some scary movies, but not that much. When I was five, I was scrolling through the [TV] channels and there was this scary zombie movie on. I got frightened by that. The one scary movie that I did see was The Sixth Sense. In ParaNorman, they added in a line, something like “I see old people,” because I asked Norman if that old guy was a ghost.
There are a lot of horror movie references in ParaNorman.
Yeah, there are. There is a Friday the 13th reference in there.
Did all those horror movie references make you want to watch more horror movies?
Yeah. I wanna see other horror movies, like the classic ones.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of you recording your voice for a stop-motion film? How does it differ for you, in shooting a live-action film?
One of my favorite things about [recording] voice over is I can go there in my pajamas. I don’t have to worry about what I look like - I can just be comfy.
Is it more difficult because you don’t have sets or props or costumes to interact with?
It is kind of easier because you are more relaxed, but it is kind of harder because I don’t have anyone to act off of. It’s just yourself, and they tell me what to do and give me the lines. It is basically all up to you to do the best you can.
So when you recorded your lines, you were all alone? You weren’t with the other actors?
Yeah, except for one session, I did it with Kodi.
It seems like you guys have a good chemistry together.
Yeah, me and Kodi are good friends. We get along.
Did you get to go to the set and watch them animate at all?
Yes. I went to the set and saw how they did it. I actually got to animate one clip in the actual movie. I got to do like one frame. It will be like, a millisecond. In one day or one week, they would get like five seconds of film. That’s pretty amazing. I’m not that patient.
Which scene was it that you helped work on?
The one where I am in the backyard, playing with the dog, Bub. I moved his legs and his tail. It was really cool.
I noticed that Neil bears a resemblance to you. Did they base his looks on you, or is it just a coincidence?
They actually made Neil before they saw me or heard me. I think that was pretty outstanding. I think Bub is a pug because he has a curly tail, and I have a pug, too. He’s sitting on my pillow right now.
Have they talked to you about a possible sequel?
I have not heard anything about a sequel. I hope there is one! It’s weird because they wanted me to film promos for ParaNorman, but I filmed the movie like two years ago. My voice has changed a lot since then. It’s really funny, but they said they could digitally enhance my voice to make it higher, but it still wouldn’t even come to the level I was at two years ago.
Is it weird that you filmed it so long ago, and it is just coming out now?
Yeah, it’s really weird. My mom almost cried listening to me - she was like, “What happened to my baby?” It’s so weird because it was so long ago.
When you are doing press for it, do you have a hard time even remembering recording it?
Yeah, sometimes. I don’t like watching or listening to myself act, but with ParaNorman, I’m like, “That’s fine, it was two years ago. I am totally different now.”
Have you seen the film yet?
No, we are going to see it soon though.