Ben Kingsley Talks Boxtrolls

In Features by FilmJuice

Next week, fans of stop-motion animation will finally be able to get their clammy mitts on their very own copy of The Boxtrolls. Produced by Laika – the team behind Coraline and ParaNorman – the film is based on Alan Snow’s quirky kid’s tale Here Be Monsters! and has already received an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Archibald Snatcher – AKA Sir Ben Kingsley – chats about the joy of voicing an animated villain…

What is it like being in an animated film?
The actor’s world now is expanding at an extraordinary rate. The choices and the avenues and the outlets through which an actor can be seen and heard multiplies yearly and stretches yearly. It’s very exciting for all of us to be able to diversify in such a thrilling way. The definition, almost, of an actor is somebody walking onto a stage and it’s so different now… You walk into a sound booth. You wear a suit for motion capture. You delegate your body language to a whole team of animators who are the custodians for that side of your work. Very, very exciting.

Tell us about your character, Snatcher, and how you approached him?
He is a man motivated by a lust for power. He’s a man motivated by narcissism. He’s a grandiose; He’s a delusional, grandiose, narcissist – a wonderful character to play. He hungers for his place among the ruling elite and the ruling elite do not want him to have that place. So there is that constant struggle of ambition in him and that hopefully is reflected in the voice that I use.

What was the biggest challenge?
I don’t find my job challenging at all. It’s such a joy. I make intuitive decisions and I use a technique to translate those decisions, but I very rarely find my job challenging in any way. I think that the exciting thing for the animators is to hear my voice and to bring it to physical life. Therefore, all I could offer them was a pure interpretation of that character vocally. I can’t offer them any physical mannerisms. So I tried to be as still as possible when I was recording in the recording booth. In fact, I was lying down most of the time on a sofa that allowed my voice to be as relaxed as possible. There is something languid and languorous about Snatcher. He therefore, until he’s very agitated and disturbed, he can’t have a tense voice. So I had to be as relaxed as possible.

What was it like to see the character fully animated for the first time?
I saw a little bit of my performance fairly early on in the recording process where they animated a sequence of Archibald’s. And I could see immediately from what they showed me that it was the most surprising and perfect interpretation of what I was trying to do vocally. Seeing the whole film about two weeks ago, I was absolutely thrilled and delighted that I could play and take risks and leaps in my voice and that the animators really had a wonderful time bringing that to life. It’s thrilling to see it. Thrilling.

What are audiences in store for when they see it?
A feast. An absolute feast of joy, of triumph over adversity. They’re going to watch friendship blossom on the screen. They’re going to see evil vanquished and good triumph. They’re going to see beautiful handmade puppets, beautiful hand-stitched costumes. It’s an absolute feast from beginning to end. Thrilling, joyful.

The Boxtrolls is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 26th January.