Ahh, Tim Burton. He is the mastermind behind classics such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas (although that last one he did not direct). The quirky director/producer/writer/animator is quite a character himself, with his wild hair and devious smile, which are traits that can be seen in a lot of the personas he creates.
A Master Of Filmmaking
Many are curious to discover the man behind films and what goes on in his head to help him come up with such dark, gothic works. Get to know Tim Burton a little better with these next facts that just might surprise you.
A Man Misunderstood
The media often portrays Burton as a reclusive, oddball guy that is similar to the dark and twisted characters of his films, when in fact, he is actually just a pretty normal guy. According to actress Catherine O’Hara, who lent her voice to the 2012 animated film Frankenweenie, Tim Burton “is a complete sweetheart. Easy to work with, always open to suggestions, quick to laugh.”
Burton even says himself that he is happy and cheerful, “and not some weirdo artiste” according to an article on guff.com. As for his gothic style of clothing and the fact that he wears all black, he says that he does so because he doesn’t like to take time to match colors.
His Lucky Socks
To further elaborate on his wardrobe choices, Burton wears pinstripe socks at premieres and special occasions because it is his lucky charm.
In an interview with MoMA, Burton has said, “When I was an animator at Disney — I was much weirder than I am now at that time — I found that when I wore striped socks I felt more grounded. It’s a very strange, circular dynamic because I was feeling very crazy or very floaty or whatever, and when I started wearing striped socks I just felt calmer and more grounded and so I don’t really know what else to say about that…”
Pithecophobia is the fear of apes and monkeys and it might be something that Tim Burton has. In particular, Burton has said that he has a fear of chimpanzees. He was quoted as saying “You don’t know whether chimps are going to kill you or kiss you. They’re very open on some levels and much more evil in a certain way.”
It is quite odd that he would have this fear, considering he directed the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, on the set of which he met the mother of his children, English actress Helena Bonham Carter.
Separate But Together
Tim Burton and his partner Helena Bonham Carter were infamous for having separate dwellings during the time they were together. In Belsize Park in London, they had two separate apartments that were connected by a hallway. Bonham Carter originally owned one of the units and Burton later purchased the other, so they connected the two.
Bonham Carter’s side is “girly, vintage and chintzy,” while Burton’s side is “a gothic melange of ‘skeletons and weird things’ and floor lights in neon shades,” according to an interview with dailymail.com. To make things even more interesting, they bought a third house to serve as the dwelling for their two kids and the nanny.
An Interesting Duo
Burton has reportedly said that he always had trouble casting Helena Bonham Carter in his films — since they first met for the filming of Planet of the Apes, she has since been cast in his six subsequent films. He felt people would assume that she had been cast just because of their relationship, forcing her to go through auditions just like any other actor. In an interview with US Weekly, Bonham Carter has said, “He always only cast me with great embarrassment.”
In 2014, the couple announced their split, much to the dismay of their fans. Still, they maintain an amicable relationship, especially for the sake of their children.
A Past Relationship
Because Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter were such an iconic duo, not many people may realize that Burton had a previous relationship with a celebrity. Prior to meeting Bonham Carter, Burton was engaged to model and actress Lisa Marie. From 1992 to 2001, she would act in films that he made, such as Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!
They first met in 1992 at a Starbucks in New York on New Year’s Eve, according to alternet.org, and fell in love when they had a mutual UFO sighting in Napa Valley. But when Burton developed a romantic relationship with Helena Bonham Carter in 2001, a dismayed Lisa Marie auctioned off stuff that he left behind at her house, which sparked a lawsuit between the two.
A Soft Spot For Masterchef
Apparently, Tim Burton has the opposite reaction of the general public when watching crowd-pleasing television and films. When asked by The New York Times if there are any popular shows or movies that he enjoys, Burton has said, “There’s shows like ‘Masterchef,’ which I cry at. I don’t know why. I find it quite emotional when they cook something, and it doesn’t work out.”
For happier movies generally loved by the public, Burton has had the opposite reaction, stating that Love Actually sparked a huge argument between him and Helena Bonham Carter. He said, “It was the same with Mamma Mia! For a feel-good movie, I’ve never been so depressed.”
Party At The White House
In 2009, shortly after Barack Obama entered the presidency, Tim Burton lent a hand in creating a fantastic Alice in Wonderland-themed Halloween party that was held at The White House for the Obama daughters and other local children.
According to the New York Post, “Tim Burton decorated it ‘in his signature creepy-comic style. His film version was about to be released, and he had turned the room into the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with a long table set with antique-looking linens, enormous stuffed animals in chairs, and tiered serving plates with treats like bone-shaped meringue cookies.”
A Normal-ish Youth?
Tim Burton is the last person you would expect to be sporty, but when he was in high school, in addition to achieving high grades, he was on the swim and water polo teams. His father even was, at one point, a professional baseball player, which may have served as motivation for joining the teams.
Still, Burton says he felt like an outsider as he was growing up and that he wasn’t very good at the sports. He was a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen, who popularized stop-motion animation. He even created his own stop-motion animated films in his backyard.
An Honorable Act
In the 1980s, Tim Burton was approached to direct After Hours, a black comedy film that follows the misadventures of a man who tries to make his way home through New York City’s SoHo district. Burton saw this as an opportunity to make a full-length film and was on board after he was asked by the film’s star, Griffin Dunne, to direct.
But when another A-list director, Martin Scorsese expressed interest in directing After Hours, Burton stepped down from the project out of respect for Scorsese. That was a reverent act on Burton’s part because the film could have launched his career. It didn’t matter so much anyway, since Burton was able to launch his career on his own.
Burton’s Favorite Band
Also during the 1980s, Burton became a fan of the new wave band Oingo Boingo. The eclectic band is known for mixing styles of ska, pop, rock, and world music, and for their heavy usage of synthesizers. Because he was a fan of their sound, Burton enlisted Oingo Boingo frontman, Danny Elfman, to provide music for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which he was directing at the time.
The partnership proved itself to be quite successful, since Elfman would go on to score, most every subsequent film that Burton directed, including hits like Beetlejuice, Batman, and Big Fish.
Tim Burton Vs Comic Con
Now that Tim Burton was enlisted to direct the 1989 version of Batman was met with a lot of backlash. The public was not happy that Burton, who at the time had just recently directed Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, was supposed to direct a dark comic book series. After the film’s release, Burton was supposedly given a lifetime ban from all future Comic-Con events because of his portrayal of the movie!
That ban obviously didn’t stick, since Tim Burton has been to other Comic-Cons since then, promoting his films such as Alice in Wonderland and the more recent Frankenweenie, where he allegedly reduced a fan to tears just by his being there.
Fired From Disney
In 1984, Disney fired Burton after he released his live-action short Frankenweenie, which was originally shot before Burton decided to remake the short film into a feature-length stop-motion animation. Burton was fired on the grounds that he used Disney’s resources to make a film that was “too dark and scary” for children to see.
It’s ironic now, because Walt Disney Pictures produced the 2012 animated version that Buton wrote and directed. Frankenweenie is about a boy who tries to resurrect his dog after it is hit by a car. Burton found inspiration from his childhood for the film, telling Entertainment Weekly about a white, ailing mutt named Pepe that he had in his youth.
Burton’s Disney Days
Before his inevitable termination, Tim Burton was invited to take on an animator’s apprenticeship at the Walt Disney Productions’ animation division in the 1980s when he was just 20 years old. As an animator, storyboard artist, and concept artist, he lent a hand to films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, and Tron, although his art never made it into the finished products.
He told The Hollywood Reporter that he “wasn’t very good at their style of animation” and that “it wasn’t the golden years of Disney animation.” Even though he struggled with trying to produce work that they wanted, they still gave him “the opportunity to just draw and do different things,” at which time he created animated shorts.
An Avid Drawer
Tim Burton was an imaginative drawer as a child, making friends with the drawings in his notebook since he felt so isolated from his peers. In Entertainment Weekly, he states that his high school art teacher, Mrs. Adams, has really encouraged him to keep drawing the way he did and never discouraged him by thinking he was “weird” like so many other kids seemed to.
A lot of his childhood drawings served as inspiration for films such as Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas‘s Jack Skellington. He told wired.com that such characters “have been in [his] mind for a long time” and that he would draw certain doodles or characters over and over for no reason.
Parading Burton’s Talents
Burton is such a talented and distinctive artist that he was invited to design a balloon for the 85th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2011. His balloon was called “B. Boy” whose backstory according to Burton is that B. was created from leftover balloons in a London children’s hospital.
“Forbidden from playing with other children because of his jagged teeth and crazy-quilt stitching, B. retreated to a basement lair, where he obsesses over Albert Lamorisse’s film ‘The Red Balloon’ and dreams that he, too, will be able to fly someday,” according to The New York Times blog “Arts Beat.”
Monster Movie Fanatic
As if it wasn’t already apparent in all the creepy and whimsical characters that Burton has brought to life on his films, he states that he has an affinity for monster movies. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “I grew up watching the Universal horror movies, Japanese monster movies and pretty much any kind of monster movie. That was my genre.”
He has also reportedly said that his favorite films include Dracula A.D. 1972, The Wicker Man, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The War of the Gargantuas, and The Omega Man. He has said he feels a special connection to The Omega Man, relating to the isolation of Charlton Heston’s character in the film.
When asked how he feels about the term “Burtonesque” and how his style has become popularly imitated by others, Burton says that it does bother him to some degree. He explained to The New York Times that he experienced this with Coraline, which he had no hand in creating, but many thought that it was one of his films anyway for the way it looked.
He has also stated in another interview that people spend their lives trying to become a person and not a thing, so you can imagine why his being associated with Burtonesque kind of rubbed him the wrong way.
Burton And Bollywood
According to imdb.com, Tim Burton is a fan of Bollywood movies. In an interview with Danny Elfman, who scores many of Burton’s films, Elfman has said “I was at a birthday party for Tim Burton. Tim had been to India that year, and did and Indian theme for his party… and a song came on that blew me away.” The song was a Bollywood classic.
Although there is no hard evidence that Tim Burton is a true Bollywood fanatic, it can be easy to assume that he has been inspired by the whimsical nature and vibrant colors that are attached to Bollywood films.