Christopher Mintz-Plasse discusses ParaNorman at Comic-Con 2012.
In all likelihood, there's no way Christopher Mintz-Plasse will ever get past his first major role. That's right, to most of us, he will always be McLovin' from "Superbad." But Mintz-Plasse has proved that he's more than just a one-hit wonder, and has made a serious career for himself since starring in that teen sex comedy. He's moved beyond the geeky guy he played in "Role Models," and has starred in action films like the "Fright Night" reboot, "Kick Ass" and the upcoming "Kick Ass 2." He's also become in-demand for his voiceover work, and appears in the new stop-motion film "ParaNorman," in which he plays Alvin, the big kid who bullies poor Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), as well as some of the town's not-quite-living denizens. Mintz-Plasse spoke to journalists at this year's Comic-Con about the new film, scheduled to open in August, and yes, offered up a little bit of info about "Kick Ass 2."
Upcoming-Movies.com: Did you get to use your own voice for this character, or did you have to do anything weird?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I definitely did something weird. They liked my voice, so they called and offered it to me. It was a bully, so I was thrown off, at first. I was like, 'I’ve never done anything like this.' I knew it was animation and I knew it was a bully, so I didn’t want to go in sounding like this. I tried to get as evil and as bully-esque as possible, so I created this surfer-idiot-complete-moron vibe, and it works really well. You’ll be like, 'I don’t want to chill with that guy, ever!'
Why do you think they thought of you to play a bully?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: That's really a question for them. I still haven’t asked them. I don’t want to know. I don’t get into that. They just called me up and said, 'We love your voice, and we would love to have you do this.' They didn’t have anything in mind. They let me create it, which was really nice.
Were you able to go off script?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah. They do the dialogue before any sort of motion capture is created, or anything. They film you when you’re doing the dialogue, so if I do any arm gestures or anything weird with my mouth, if they think it works, they put it into the character. It’s nice.
Having already done "How to Train Your Dragon," and "Marmaduke," what was different about this voice-over experience?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I’ve been a huge stop-motion fan since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Animated movies come out every weekend now. "Madagascar 17" is coming out next week. There are just so many of them. Stop-motion is so special because they’re rare. I think the last one was "Coraline," and the one before that was "Corpse Bride." You could probably name them all on both your hands. So, I wanted to be a part of that because I think people are gonna love it and the character was great. It was different from the other animated movies I’ve done because they actually got all the actors in the same room. I’ve never done that before. I got to do scenes with Kodi [Smit-McPhee], which is great for the movie ‘cause it just feels more natural that way.
What has gotten easier about voice-over work, since you first did it?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It’s weird, I am always nervous about doing it, and I always realize that it’s so easy. I go in there and they want me to have fun, but on the drive over, I’m always clammy and I worry, 'What if my voice squeaks? What if I don’t deliver it right?' Until you start saying the lines, it’s always nerve-wracking, for some reason, and I’ve never gotten over that. But, it’s fun to do. It’s a good paycheck.
Do you see yourself in the animated character, at all?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, I’ve noticed that, when I watch "ParaNorman." I did things that made the movie. I was very proud of that. That’s cool!
How long did the process of recording actually take?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: For the first session, I was in there for three hours and I did the whole script. And then I didn’t go in for another three months, and I did another couple hours. Then I didn’t go back in for a few months. then I did another session. After that, it was six months, and then they flew me to Portland to do my last session and visit the set and see how they make the movie. It’s beautiful, how they did it. It was amazing!
Was it difficult to get back into the character with such long breaks between recording sessions?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It’s very weird. I have to watch footage when I go there, to hear it again.
Was the strong anti-bullying message part of the appeal of this project?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I didn’t notice that until [people started asking me about it]. I just thought it was a cute, fun movie. It really is. I’m a bully and, in the end, I don’t win. I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s a kid’s movie, so you feel bad for the zombies at one point. They’re not there to eat the people. They’re there because of a curse. So, the zombies end up getting bullied, as does Norman. In the end, it shows that the weird people are the heroes and everyone has got something special, so don’t bully. It’s cool. It’s really well done.
Did you have to try to figure out why Alvin bullies Norman?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It was all there, on the page. Norman sees ghosts, and nobody believes him. That’s such an easy way to pick on someone. Alvin is just dumb and naive and vulnerable, so he feels that his only way to be cool is to bully this kid. I knew those guys in high school that were the hot shots, and they’re doing nothing with their lives now. They wish they could be back in high school, but I don’t.
Having been in a comic book movie, with "Kick-Ass," how do people react to you at Comic-Con?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: We did the panel for this and they asked a question about "Kick-Ass." I felt bad because we’re here for "ParaNorman" and they brought up "Kick-Ass," but people are really excited. They loved "Kick-Ass" and they want "Kick-Ass 2." I think we’re going to start filming at the end of this year. I’ve got a script.
Are you excited to finally be able to tell people that you’re going to actually film it now because they’ve been asking you about a sequel since the first one came out?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, it’s been four years. Chloe [Grace Moretz] is so much older, but they’re going to make it work. It is really nice to know. The thing is, I haven’t signed any papers yet, so there’s still that little part of me that’s like, 'If it doesn’t happen, I’m going to get screwed by my managers.' But it’s really close to happening.
Did you get to read the comic book sequel, as it was coming out?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, Mark Millar would just email them over to me, so that I knew what was going on.
What did you think about what was going on with your character?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It’s crazy! It’s unbelievable. I’m the Motherfucker now, in this one. It’s incredible! There was one moment in the comic, where the Motherfucker rapes someone, but I don’t think we’re doing that. We’re doing a different aspect of it, and it’s a really funny version of it, but there’s no rape. I’m really happy about that.
Do you look forward to doing more voice-over work?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, I’m actually doing "How to Train Your Dragon 2." I’ve done one session for it, four months ago. It’s so weird. You do it, and then you don’t hear from them for so long that you wonder, "Did it drop off the planet? Are they not doing it?" But, I think I’m going to do that again, at the end of this year. And then, I’m working on a TV show, called "Friend Me," for CBS, from September to January. And then "Kick-Ass 2" is supposedly September to December. So, it’s going to be a long and busy few months. It’s going to be great, but exhausting.