It’s not surprising with his big role in The Eagle and Tintin being the most anticipated of his next upcoming films that multiple reporters would interview Jamie Bell on Tintin. The following is the third interview I’ve found that has a section on his role in The Secret of The Unicorn. Some of this will sound similar to the other two interviews and there is almost no new information,but it’s fun to read none the less. The most interesting thing for me is the part at the end where he talks about Tintin’s voice.
Let’s talk about Tintin. Obviously, Spielberg is a director who’s in total command of his form, but here, he was working with technology he’s never used before. Could you see him figuring it out on set?
Oh, absolutely. He’d be like, “What does this do? Oh wow, it does that? I wish I could do that in the real world, I wish I could take out a lamppost and move it to the side of the street!” The simplistic things about motion capture that you can do with just the flick of a button are kind of amazing, but also, the use of light and color … for a filmmaker who’s incredibly visionary, I think it’s exciting because it gives him so many more options. The palette is endless, it’s infinite, and I think he definitely got a kick out of that. I think he said it made him more like a painter than he’d ever been before.
The look of the film is very painterly, just from the stills that have been released. Have you seen it in motion?
I’ve seen bits and pieces, yeah. It looks great. We call them “Tintin-ologists,” and as one of those people who’s really into it, it’s incredibly exciting. To see these characters come to life is something you’ve been waiting for your whole life, and when it’s you doing it … It’s actually got the vibe of a Hitchcockian film, a kind of noir film in a young person’s action-adventure film. It’s really great.
I’m assuming your friend Andy Serkis gave you advice on motion capture.
On everything. He’s the guru of that technology.
What’s the key thing you need to know if you’re doing it?
Just to overarticulate. He calls it “breaking through the technology,” and I like that idea because it means that you break through it and claim it for yourself. You don’t let it do the work for you, you attack it aggressively and control it. Look, if there’s anyone to listen to when it comes to motion capture, it’s that guy, so to have him next to me throughout felt great.
How do you know if you’re doing a good job?
You don’t. You trust your director, and I obviously have a great trust with Steven Spielberg. You’re in really good hands. There are some very specific beats with an action-adventure film, and you have to hit those moments of “I found a clue!” where you’re about to go into another adventure in the story. So the acting is still kind of the same, you’re still hitting these beats and those emotional peaks and lows. And you have to trust your animators, because that’s where the real work is done.
What’s your Tintin voice like?
Tintin is a native of Belgium, and we obviously couldn’t do it in French, although I would have loved to. So we kind of found an English sound that won’t distract people so much. You know, it’s very easy to upset people quickly when you’re taking on such a beloved character, so we want to remain as neutral as possible and not go too, too strongly in another direction. If Tintin had an American accent, I’m sure the rest of the world would be very upset!