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Gore Verbinski was celebrated last night for his first animated venture ‘Rango’, taking home the golden statue for Best Animated Feature. “Someone asked me if this film was for kids and, I don’t know, but it was certainly created by a bunch of grownups acting like children and we just had the best time,” the director and screenwriter said in his acceptance speech.
Verbinski is best known as the man behind the successful ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ -trilogy and his working relations with Johnny Depp, who depicted the swashbuckle galore of Captain Jack Sparrow, has led to the colorful collaboration for Rango. “I want to thank the real-world chameleon, Mr. Johnny Depp,” said Verbinski, “and the entire cast for coming out and playing.”
It doesn’t get any better than this, thank you.
After leaving the stage, the eager Oscar press corps were ready to ask about the win.
Q. So you developed this movie completely outside of the studio system completely by design. I’m wondering if you feel like there’s a message in that for other people who are trying to do really off the wall pictures?
A. It helps when you’re friends with Johnny Depp. I mean, we needed money and, you know, once Johnny said he was in, it was things started to happen. But we didn’t go right to a studio we went to Graham Graham King who gave us enough money to do the story reel. So for the first 18 months we were just out of our house, seven artists and John Logan, long walks you know, barbecues in the backyard. It was great.
Q. What is the takeaway for you as a filmmaker having done this and gone back and forth now between live action and animation?
A. This it’s a pretty profound question. I mean they’re two completely different hats. I suppose underneath all of it it’s just, you know, finding a story you want to tell in the same way you would as you were if you were sitting around a campfire or something. But completely different. I mean there’s no there are no gifts in animation. We have to fabricate everything including the anomalies, you know, and yet now I’m two days into shooting a live action picture. I actually go back tomorrow to shoot, and you know, there’s chaos and you can’t you can’t orchestrate things exactly how you want them, but when events happen, they’re set in stone and you’re done. So completely different hat. I mean, I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s just every every aspect of it is so different.
Q. You did something a little unorthodox in this film. You actually put all the actors in the same room and had them act. How much do you think that contributed to the success of the film?
A. Well, I don’t know about the success, but I don’t know any other way to direct actors. I mean, it’s I want them to act and react. I suppose it I think it made it feel like it was occurring and we encouraged line overlaps and we encouraged people to be out of breath. So we really were kind of paranoid of the computer making things clinical, and it so lends itself to perfection. So suddenly you had the feeling I guess in the soundtrack that there was a tortoise talking to a lizard, because Johnny was talking to Ned Beatty and they were actually playing the scene together. So I think there’s there’s something in there. There’s some sort of DNA underneath it all. But ultimately it was just a fear of having somebody sit with a bit of text in front of a microphone. I mean, I haven’t done that since I was selling sugar water, Budweiser, you know, or whatever, doing commercials, but that’s so distant from, you know, getting a performance.
Q. Gore, if you ever allowed yourself to dream of winning an Oscar, did you hope that it was going to be for a live action or for animation?
A. I don’t know. I feel like I’m dreaming right now, so I don’t I don’t think it matters. I mean, it’s here. It’s in my hand. It’s very heavy. It feels good.
Q. All right. As a friend of Johnny Depp, can you possibly describe what makes him fascinating? What makes him deliver even in an animated film, something more than any other actor could?
A. Well, I think every actor has a different process. He just, you know, really is brave in kind of pursuing the sort of awkward moment in trying to find something that’s not really rehearsed, or to try to find a way to approach something. If the lines are in one way, he’ll always come at it a different way. So I just, I think we have something in common in that sort of pursuit of trying to find working it until it’s genuinely a little off.
Image Courtesy of 84th Annual Academy Awards Awards®