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Interview: Christopher Mintz-Plasse On ‘ParaNorman’

A number of people still remember actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse as his fun-loving character in the breakout hit “Superbad.” He continues to break away from the geeky, awkward hero into villainous territory. He’s already done it in “Kick-Ass” and is planning on doing it again in the adorable stop-motion animated feature “ParaNorman.”

In “ParaNorman” Christopher plays Alvin, a bully who constantly gives our hero Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) a hard time due to his gift of seeing ghosts. But when the town falls victim to a horrible curse, it’s up to our awkward hero to save the day.

While at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, we got the opportunity to speak with the actor about voicing a bully, his love for stop-motion animation and how much fun it is just to be a voice actor.

Did you get to use your natural 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.

Why do you think they thought of you to play a bully?

Christopher Mintz-Plasse: 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 doing this voice work?

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. [laughs] 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 going to 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 because it just feels more natural that way.

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. But, 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.

Be sure to check out “ParaNorman” when it’s in theaters on August 17th.

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