As I round out my interview with the young men of Frankenweenie, I want to introduce you to Atticus Shaffer.
Atticus Shaffer as “Edgar ‘E’ Gore”
Perhaps the most animated in real life, Atticus is very intelligent and a self-admitted nerd. I was captivated by his story telling and believe he will go far in his career with it. As he mentions, storytelling is, after all, the reason he got into the business. At only 14 years old, he too has his career path planned and ready to take off.
What is your favorite Tim Burton movie? And how excited were you when you got the call?
I had seen bits and pieces of like Nightmare Before Christmas and whatnot, but The Corpse Bride was one I just wanted to say, I sat down and watched start to finish. And I fell in love with it immediately, just because the way that Tim Burton, he takes all these shapes, these objects and then transforms them… and then creates this own world of his. It was actually a yearlong audition process for me to get the part…
I get a call and they’re like, hey, Atticus, by the way we were just wondering, what’s the longest audition process you’ve done. And I said well, Frankenweenie, that one has been going on for about a year and that one seems to be the longest. And they go, oh, you got it. After the defibrillator woke me up, I was brimming over with emotions… I’m going to be a part of a Tim Burton legacy, at the same time I was like, I want to be in this- and so it was just awesome.
What was your favorite thing about your character?
The characters that I normally play are either they are my voice, they are kind of the very calm eye in the storm characters. And, and some are smart, you know, they, they know how to figure out problems and whatnot. But then this one, he’s just so over the top. And he’s kind of like this, he’s a semi villain, he loves everything more big and over the top and, and also being able to do the impression of Peter Lorre for the voice is just awesome for me. Because I love doing impressions, I love doing accents… and he’s kind of like the Igor character and I knew how to play that off, but like the second or third audition into it, they said if possible, do a Peter Lorre impression. And I was like this is so new for me, it’s going to test my acting abilities, I want to do this. And so my mom and I like the homeschoolers that we are, uh, rented, uh, a Maltese Falcon and we already had Casablanca, and just sat down and really studied and, and, um, it, it, and that alone was just such a thrill for me.
What do you find challenging about it?
I love doing voice over… that’s the whole reason I got into the business in the first place, is because I love to play with my voice. I love telling stories, being able to put myself into these new, completely new characters. And also with the fact that there is such a long list that you do have to worry about for, for theatrical, because you have wardrobe, makeup, memorizing lines, choreography, everything. But whereas you just have a small list for voice over which is, is making sure that your voice is, is well. And you know what the character is like, you know the character voice. And also that you, you are able to take direction and kind of form, put- I like to say that you put your soul into the character, because you’re giving it the voice, and, and especially in a Tim Burton animation. It’s stop motion animation, it’s not drawn up, these are things that you can move and touch with your hands. And it’s almost as if the thing that’s been the character has been built. And then you give it a voice, and now it’s able to talk. And then you have the animators who are able to move it, now it has motion. Then with Tim Burton, and, and the set designers, it, they create this world that it is, that it’s in. And so now it has its own earth, its own portion of earth, its own- its own fantasy world. And so in a way it is kind of creating like your own little monsters in a sense.
What is your favorite part in working with Tim?
My favorite part of him in particular was the fact that he is so creative. He doesn’t want to follow the crowd or be a part of the big machine. He wants to do his own thing. He wants to be creative, groundbreaking, because it- and this film in particular is the first 3D black and white animation. And so being able to be a part of something groundbreaking like that, and his mindset too. When he films things like Alice in Wonderland, it wasn’t the stereotypical view of how things were at that time. It, it was a darker tone, it was different… being a part of, of his mindset, his world, was just phenomenal for me.
And being able to convey that information [exactly what they want], because there are times where someone can be a little cryptic, or they’re trying to make you guess at what they want. It’s not just coming out and saying, well no, it’s more like this. And so us as actors, we’re able to take that information and just say, all right, I know exactly what he wants. So I can follow through with that.
Any particular actors that inspire you?
I’m a big fan of of Liam Neeson and Russell Crowe, just because they are so professional in their craft and, and, they do voice over along with actual theatrical… I never like to be second best. I like to give a hundred and fifty percent and my all. And it, and if someone doesn’t like that, then that’s okay with me. But I take comfort in my heart that I was able to give my all.
What are the biggest hopes and dreams or goals in your career?
For me my goal is the whole point of me getting into the business was to be a storyteller… And being in this business in particular, I am the character of the story. And so I can tell the story from that perspective. But my hope is to go to college and learn how to become a director and a writer. And then be able to tell stories from that point of view. Almost, almost like the narrator.