When I first discovered Tim Burton was coming to Hong Kong, my first thought was, “Oh my God! How cool would it be if I got to meet him?”
Anyone who has ever watched a film knows Tim Burton. Even if you don’t recognise the name, you know the iconic director. You might think you don’t, but I promise you that you do. He is the creative genius behind Alice in Wonderland, The Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman Forever, Frankenweenie, Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow ... honestly the list of movies he’s made is endless. And it’s not an endless list of average movies – they’re all incredible.
So you can imagine my face when I found out I was not only going to be able to attend the press meet, but that I would get an exclusive one-on-one interview with him. It looked a little like the grinning emoji with all the teeth showing. Only bigger.
Tim Burton, director of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, explains why being different isn’t a bad thing
On Thursday, I had butterflies in my stomach and I wondered if I should dress up as the Corpse Bride, or possibly Edward Scissorhands – except I worried that the latter might make it a little difficult to take notes or post any sort of social media of the event. I wore black anyway because, even though Burton has said in interviews that he doesn’t consider himself a dark person, to anyone who has ever watched any of his movies, it’s clear he likes the colour black, at least.
So what was he like in person? Honestly, very inspiring (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge fan). He made me want to go home and pick up a pen and write, or pick up a paintbrush and paint.
His motivational push came when I asked him if he considers himself peculiar (for those not in the know, he has an entire section of misunderstood characters in his new exhibition, and a lot of his most famous characters are misfits, or at least a little bit odd compared to your average Joe).
“I grew up in a time when you were categorised very quickly: you’re good at sports; you’re not good at sports. You’re normal; you’re weird. And that always made me feel quite sad, but then I realised, you know what, that’s other people’s problem when you categorise somebody. If you’re a good person and remain true to yourself. That’s why creating something, even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, a painter, a musician, or whatever, it’s important to just create something. I think everybody has it in them and it’s important that even the people that feel they’re marginalised, or not popular, know that things change.”
It’s impossible not to like someone who really believes that anyone can do anything. Combined with the fact that he happily obliged when I shamelessly asked at the end of the interview if I could have a photo with him... I have to admit, if I wasn’t already convinced that he was a lovely guy, I would be now.
So let me get straight to the burning questions that I’m sure other fans are dying to know: just what is Tim Burton’s favourite film? It’s Edward Scissorhands (leaving me silently kicking myself for not going with the costume idea), which doesn’t really surprise me, as they sort of have similar hairstyles. Plus, it’s a superb movie. Of his more recent triumphs, he likes Alice and Wonderland and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But when I awkwardly pressed him by saying; “Erm, actually... I meant, films that you enjoy that you weren’t involved in creating...”, while simultaneously being mortified at the thought that I was snubbing Tim Burton, he admitted he doesn’t actually watch many movies.
“The problem is when you make films, you don’t get a chance to watch many. You work 20 hours on the set, the last thing you do is think ‘Ah, I want to go to the movies now.’”
Who knew? Admittedly, this was a bit of a disappointment for me, as I expected him to be one of these people with a huge film collection and a massive home cinema where he would watch old classics, but I guess that’s what makes Tim Burton so spectacular; he doesn’t live by anybody’s rules or do anything by the book.
Oh, and I snapchatted a photo of him with the flower crown filter. I think that must count as some sort of life goal. If you read this Tim, please don’t be angry.