If you don’t know who Genndy Tartakovsky is then you better listen up. He happens to be the creator of a couple of television series including “Samurai Jack” and even “Dexter’s Laboratory.” He was easily one of the strong voices from the early days of Cartoon Network. And now he’s about to show off to the world what kind of talent he has with his feature film debut, “Hotel Transylvania.”
In “Hotel Transylvania” we center on Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) who’s trying his best to not only run this monsters-only hotel but to keep his 118 year old daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) in the confides of their home. But one day that all changes when a random backpacker (voiced by Andy Samberg) stumbles upon Hotel Transylvania. Now Dracula struggles not only with keeping the human in disguise but trying to keep his daughter there.
We got the great opportunity to talk with the famed animation creator about developing “Hotel Transylvania,” integrating his own style into the characters and when we might finally get our hands on a “Samurai Jack” movie.
So how did you first find Hotel Transylvania? How did that happen?
Genndy Tartakovsky: I was finishing up on “Sym-Biotic Titan” on Cartoon Network and I found out that we were going to be cancelled. So I had a few movies in development at Sony. I said look, I’m coming up and maybe we can do more. They’re like yeah, let’s do more! And then it was the next week and they were like well if you want to do more, we have this thing that opened up, a director’s spot opened up on this movie we’re doing. So I’ve always wanted my movie to be an original idea but then I came in and kind of saw some of the artwork and give me the gist of the story. Oh, Adam Sandler is the voice of Dracula and it’s a big comedy. I felt kind of like redefining Dracula to our new generation. It was really exciting. So something kind of stuck to me. So that night I wrote four pages of ideas, came in, pitched them and they liked it and two weeks later I started working.
So they already had everything all filled out and it was just kind of finding the right director?
Genndy Tartakovsky: Kind of. They had the world figured out but then once we get in, we get the story and it got rewritten again. There definitely are a lot more things that had to be done. We redesigned Dracula and some of the other characters as well.
CG animation is so monstrous nowadays, you have to adapt no matter what. What do you love about that form of animation? What do you think works so well that everybody’s using it now?
Genndy Tartakovsky: Well I think it’s still fairly new in a way so it’s still exciting to see it. And the detail of it is all crazy because it makes it all look so real. For me, I wanted to use it over to bring some of my two dimensional sensibilities. To bring some of those sensibilities into the CG world, the biggest fear that I had was I don’t wanna loose my voice. Sometimes you watch a movie and you don’t know who directed it as far as animation goes. I wanted it to feel like I still had a strong voice so I wanted to make sure I was able to push the animation and the CG-ness of it all to have a strong point of a view. I don’t want it to look like a DreamWorks film or a Pixar film, I want it to be it’s own thing.
You wanted a better interpretation of Dracula but at the same time you already had your lead attached before you signed onto the project. What was it like working with Adam Sandler, was it easy to mold him into your own voice interpretation of what you wanted?
Genndy Tartakovsky: It was funny because when I first met him my first question was what did you want to do with the voice? I was really hoping he’d do an accent. He laughed and said I don’t know. I’ve been practicing in the shower and I’ve been sounding like Zohan. I go that’s great! This should be your take on the Dracula voice. So he came in for a practice record session and he was going up and down. Then he came into this thing that’s not quite Bela Lugosi and has a sprinkle of it being this jewish thing a little bit. It kind of fell into his own thing. Then the broad animation that we did, the two kind of locked up.
You’ve already dominated animated television and now you’re slowly but surely taking over film. What are you doing now?
Genndy Tartakovsky: I feel like I found a really nice place at Sony and it feels like the early days of Cartoon Network when they were just starting out and we were just building the network together and maybe we can build the studio. They’ve been there already for ten years going and so I just want to try different things. I want to push films so they have a stronger voice, making them more unique. So that’ll be a challenge.
How does it feel you’ve influenced a generation. You’ve influenced my generation, I hope you do realize this!
Genndy Tartakovsky: I do! When I was doing “Sym-Biotic Titan” they were doing Adventure TIme and Regular Show. So I would be around and there would be all of these young guys and girls, the new generation coming up. We were sitting around talking one time and one of them was like “I grew up with Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny and we grew up with Dexter’s Laboratory.” I went “What!?” You start to realize oh wow, these guys grew up with my shows. I still feel like we’re all the same age, but then no we’re not. This was twenty years ago and now they’re all making the new shows. It was really nice. It makes me feel warm that this has happened.
It’s really funny to see it pop up on Boomerang now and it doesn’t feel that old.
Genndy Tartakovsky: In today’s terms it’s definitely old.
It’s weird, the whole nostalgia kick that’s happening with the latest generation.
Genndy Tartakovsky: I did a talk a few years ago and this high school kid, he was seventeen, told me that he grew up with Dexter’s Laboratory. It’s very weird that this generation… but it’s great because Boomerang puts it on. It’s still on! It’s been on and so it’s great that it keeps surviving. There’s a lot of TV shows that don’t so it’s really been nice… it’s one the things I’m the most proud of that Dexter’s Laboratory has lasted through the tests of time and the same goes with Samurai Jack.
And there’s still a few of us who wish that one day there’ll be a “Samurai Jack” movie.
Genndy Tartakovsky: I’m trying, I’m trying. The one interesting thing about it is that it keeps surfacing. It’s one of those things that it’ll get made, I just don’t know when. I mean, who knows? If “Hotel Transylvania” does great and I get as much freedom as I can then I’ll try to do it.
Check out “Hotel Transylvania” when it arrives in theaters everywhere on September 28th.