David Tennant Interview For ‘The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists’
In Aardman Animations ‘The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists,’ Hugh Grant, starring in his first animated role, is the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! Aardman are the consistently awesome team behind the likes of ‘Wallace and Gromit,’ ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘Arthur Christmas.’ ’ The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists’ is Aardman’s first 3-D stop-motion film, and Peter Lord’s first film as a director since ‘Chicken Run.’ The film is released in cinemas March 28th in the UK and April 27th in the US.
Can you tell us about your incarnation of Charles Darwin in ‘The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists’?
David Tennant: It’s before he’s quite conquered his theory of evolution. It’s a young Charles Darwin, it’s a Darwin with perhaps more insecurities than the Darwin that would later become world famous. There’s insecurities about his own abilities, both as a scientist and as a man. So in this film, he’s not the most confident chap you could hope to come across. At times he’s a little craven and perhaps not the most generous spirited chap in the world either….I don’t know if this Darwin is particularly historically accurate (laughs), I’m just gonna put that out there! But in terms of the story of the film, his insecurities help to drive the plot in perhaps slightly unexpected directions.
He gets thrown around quite a bit, and he has an interesting relationship with the Pirate Captain….
David Tennant: There is a fair amount of Darwin being thrown around. I recorded a lot of panting, screaming, a lot of being hit with various things (laughs). He has a fairly physically active role, yet he’s not particularly a physically active chap. So he spends a lot of the time getting thrown around in a lot of comedic ways. Darwin thinks he’s cleverer than the Pirate Captain, he thinks he can use him for his own ends. Initially it’s a bit of a duplicitous relationship. But by the end, they become rather fond of each other. They certainly have to work with each other quite closely to save the day.
How was it for you with the filming process, voicing Charles Darwin in this film?
David Tennant: It’s very unusual because you’re aware that the process is going on for years, this film has a long gestation period. We actors came and visited it every now and then. Once every three months we’d come in and have a recording session. That spread over, I don’t even know how long I was working on it, certainly over a year, maybe even two years. It was a long process that the actors would just revisit every now and again. We’d come back and be very excitingly told that there’s five minutes of footage, now there’s fifteen minutes of footage. It was clearly a laborious and fastidious process, but it is so exciting to be any contributing factor to that.
What’s very exciting is to be a part of the finished product, you have that in mind the whole time. The actors aren’t the stars of this film, the stars of this film are the animators and the extraordinary things they can do with the extraordinary beautiful creations they put together, the wonderful world they created and indulged with all the creative brilliance Aardman can throw at it.
That must have been a very unique way of capturing a performance?
David Tennant: Oh yeah, we’d be in the recording studio once every so often, then these tapes would go back to the workshop and the film is put together frame by frame. I guess, when we were in the studio, we had to provide as many options as possible, just to give the animators every possible chance and every possible option to play the scene in a variety of different ways. We often done 20 takes, so you have every conceivable reading of a line. You’re very aware that the final decisions are not in your hands, the final decisions of how this character is played is decided in an animation studio far far away (laughs). All you can do is hopefully provide whatever raw materials you can to make it live as joyously as possible. I was so excited to be apart of it. You know with Aardman, if their name is on it, you know it’s going to be of the highest quality, and delicious, and hilarious, and beautiful, and different.
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