Composer Danny Elfman interviews director Tim Burton

In 1984, Paul Reubens was looking for a director. The film in development was Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), and Reubens, who had been working on the perversely juvenile conceptual-art project for about 15 years, was desperate to find someone he could trust to direct it with style. So, as people in Los Angeles do, he asked around at a party. One of the guests had just seen Frankenweenie—Tim Burton’s 1984 live-action short about a dog that is brought back to life. Burton had no previous experience as a feature-film director, but the two men immediately bonded. Only 25 at the time, Burton got the job, and the pair watched as their strange but imaginative film earned more than $40 million at the box office.

Of course, these days, Burton doesn’t need to rely on word of mouth to find work. Throughout the many stages of his 30 years behind the camera, there has remained a consistent underlying emotional current in Burton’s work—a delicate balance of sadness, humor, and horror that matches his eye for gothic beauty and mythical surrealism.

The 51-year-old filmmaker has written, directed, and/or produced more than 20 movies. Between 1988 and 1996, he was responsible for Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), and Mars Attacks!(1996). It was also during this period that he began working with Johnny Depp, who has acted in seven of his films—a transformative relationship for both men.


Directors, Interview

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