Tucker Albrizzi is the 12-year-old scene stealer playing Neil in the highly-anticipated “ParaNorman”. Critics are already buzzing about his performance, and both directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have been quoted as saying Albrizzi’s character is their favorite “Neil is pretty cool. He’s our little standout.” When asked if he’s the breakout star, Fell responded “He really is. Everyone loves him.” Moviehole spoke to Albrizzi about “ParaNorman” and also Twitter, of which his account has a colossal amount of followers.
The new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, reteaming the company with Focus Features after the groundbreaking Academy Award-nominated “Coraline.” “ParaNorman” is, following “Coraline,” the company’s second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. In “ParaNorman,” a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst, of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Hey buddy, so how does one audition for a movie like “Paranorman”? Is it a case of submitting a voice-over demo?
Usually for voice-over work you go into a studio and record a tape that gets sent to casting, yeah – but not this time. I never think I do my best that way because its always someone different in the room recording you and that’s kind of awkward for me. But for ParaNorman I actually went into the casting directors office and she recorded me in person.
That would’ve been great, yes!?
It was this great casting director named Allison Jones that I have booked other jobs with so I felt really comfortable there, and had a lot of fun doing the audition. I think that’s why I got the role and don’t think I would have gotten it if I just recorded a tape. I look a lot like Neil with my red hair and freckles but the producers hired me just from my voice and didn’t know how similar we looked, which I think is really cool too!
No doubt that helped a lot! I know you’ve got a large following on Twitter. Has Twitter been of any help to you in getting roles and/or getting your name out there?
I don’t think Twitter really helps me acting wise but its cool to talk to fans that way and tell them about shows or movies I’m doing or answer fun questions they ask me.
It is a great marketing tool. Now you mentioned talking to your friends on Twitter, what do you think school friends think of your success? Are they encouraging or a little jealous? Bit of both?
I go to a school for actors so a lot of the kids there are in the business as well so I’m the same as them. All of the kids I hang out with are happy for me when I am working on a new project.
Very cool. So let’s get to the business at hand, tell us a bit about your character in “Paranorman”
Neil is my character in ParaNorman and he is AWESOME! Neil is Norman’s best and only friend. He is really unique and geeky but he is really happy to be that way. He thinks Norman is the coolest because he can see dead people. Neil is a lot like me both in the way he looks and acts. I’m really quirky but I like it that way because it makes me different than everyone else. Who wants to be normal?
Indeed! My motto right here! Who did you work with the most on “Paranorman”, or was it a case of everyone recording their lines separately?
I only worked with Kodi once and the rest of the recordings were by myself. Its fun working with someone else because you can interact and improv with them but I’m more relaxed when I record by myself. Sometimes they made me make silly noises and stuff and I was glad other actors weren’t there watching me! I also like that I can show up to do voice over work in my comfy clothes and not have to worry about how I look! I’m kinda lazy that way so it was fun.
Find it hard working on your own without the other actor there?
No, it wasn’t hard. Like I said, I’m more relaxed when I’m by myself and it’s easier to do the silly noises without people watching me!
Have you seen the movie yet, what are your thoughts?
I’ve only seen the trailers but I think it looks great! I usually don’t like to watch or listen to myself in any of the work I do but ParaNorman is the first thing I’ve done that I like to listen to. Maybe because I don’t sound like that anymore so it doesn’t seem like me [Laughs]. My voice is really deep now so sometimes my mom watches the trailers just to hear me when I was younger, yeah shes weird like that [Laughs]. ParaNorman is going to be really funny and has awesome visuals. I was impressed when I visited the studios in Portland where they built all the sets because they put so much detail into everything.
Can I ask how your brother, who has leukemia, is doing?
He is doing great thanks. He is 17 now and has been off of chemo for 3 years.
Oh that’s wonderful news! And what’s next for you film-wise?
I’ve been working on more TV projects than film in the last year and my latest role was playing Shmagreggie in the TV pilot Shmagreggie Saves the World.
Photography courtesy : Vincent Sandoval Photography: www.vincentsandoval.com
“ParaNorman” opens in August