Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Superbad Wimp Turns Bully in ParaNorman
By: Lynn Barker
You may have seen 23-year-old Chris Mintz-Plasse in the iconic coming-of-age film Superbad where his dweeby character Fogell took on the party name of “McLovin” or as Augie, the kid who is into fantasy role playing games in the park in the comedy Role Models. Chris was a hit as another smart nerd turned weird supervillain in the actioner Kick Ass. His character Fishlegs in the How to Train Your Dragon films, isn’t exactly macho material.
Alvin and pals bully Norman at school
Scared Alvin shows his wimpy side
Alvin with Norman
In the 3-D stop motion animation movie ParaNorman, by the makers of Coraline, the young actor finally gets to turn the tables and play school bully Alvin who gives Norman, a kid who sees and can talk to ghosts, a really hard time.
We’re at a hotel in Beverly Hills to drop in for a chat with Chris in his room. Before we enter, we hear the actor and a pal talking about some fave bands…..
Kidzworld: So, Chris, what bands were you guys raving about?
- Chris: Oh, two bands, My Morning Jacket, I’m wearing their (tee) shirt now and then me and my good friend Sherry were talking about The National, just beautiful impressive music. Then I’m seeing Chili Peppers this weekend.
Kidzworld: Wow, good choices. On to ParaNorman. You recorded Alvin’s voice alone but sometimes with others. Was it easier or more fun to have the other actor there with you in the booth?
Chris: Out of the ten days I recorded, I did one day with Kodi (Smit-McPhee who voices lead character Norman) which was awesome. We did about four scenes together. It’s so much easier and I think the movie flows better if do scenes with other actors and we work the chemistry. When you’re in there by yourself, you’re doing it your way but it’s hard to gage the way the scene is gonna play. When I was in there with Kodi I was vibeing off his energy and great acting and we really gave a good scene.Chris with his Fishlegs character from "Dragon"
Kidzworld: What do you think is magical about stop motion animation versus all computer-generated (CGI) or all hand-drawn?
- Chris: I got to go visit the set up in Portland (he offers me some of the crispy fries he’s eating.. I can’t resist and grab some).. Uh, I want everybody to know she’s eating all my fries! (Chris looks down and picks at a sandwich) There’s a hair in my sandwich!!
- Chris: Anyway, it’s really cool to see like 150 people working on one project in different little rooms, 30 people working on puppet wardrobe, 30 working on the 3-D printer, 30 on painting then to go to set and there’s like 40 different scenes being filmed at the same time. There is so much passion and work put into it and I think you can really see that in the movie. It’s like a family. You don’t see anybody bored or hating on anybody.
Kidzworld: You often play a smart, more nerdy character but In this you play a bully. Were you bullied in school?
- Chris: I was never bullied but I had the classic nerdy look; big glasses and the hair and braces but I was never in a school where I had to deal with that kind of thing.
Kidzworld: Would you have advice for kids and teens who are bully victims right now? Your bully character Alvin is really a total wimp inside.
- Chris: He’s such a wimp and coward! That’s a hard thing to give advice on when you haven’t experienced it but I can imagine it’s a horrible thing. I’d say you’re young and if you’re being bullied, it’s gonna happen for a little bit but just try to push through it and, in the end, the bullies are the ones who don’t really succeed in life at all. They’re the idiots. They’re not smart and probably not getting parented well. Someday I’ll tell you if that’s true when my kid turns out a bully.. hope not!
Kidzworld: You voice Fishlegs in “How to Train your Dragon”. Aren’t you doing another one?
- Chris: We are doing “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and doing episodes for Cartoon Network too.
Kidzworld: Cool! How was that experience different from this one?
- Chris: They’re similar but different just because the characters are different. My character in “Dragon” is just me but more animated and excited. In this, my character Alvin is a bully so that’s a difference.
Kidzworld: Were you into scary movies and monsters like Norman is as a tween?
- Chris: Yeah, I still am. (Chris got to play a wimpy vampire victim then a gnarly vampire in the recent Fright Night movie). Love them. I loved Halloween and Michael Meyers and zombie movies. I loved being scared, still do!
Kidzworld: Do you notice any of your mannerisms in the Alvin character once you saw the movie?
- Chris: Yeah. I did a bunch of arm gestures that are in there. I was excited about that. They watched me and threw in a few things.
Kidzworld: Did the filmmakers show you either the puppet or drawings of Alvin before you started recording his voice? What did you think?
- Chris: I thought he kind of looks like me if I was fat but they showed me a picture during my first recording session and some artwork but then, we didn’t see more than that. I have a puppet of him now. He’s awesome.
Kidzworld: You will soon be shooting Kick Ass 2 but, in your free time, what do you like to do?
- Chris: I’m in a band with my buddies The Young Rapscallions. We play a lot of shows when I’m not working. I play a lot of drums and read a lot of scripts and I like to travel too.
Kidzworld: Ooo, where did you go recently?
- Chris: I did some work in Thailand so I got to take a vacation there. I’m going to North Carolina in a couple of weeks to see a band play a few shows and my band and I went to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. We all write our stuff, no covers. We have one album out called “It is What It is”. It’s a 5-song EP and then we’re working on another album now. I met the singer when I was 8 or 9 and then the others when I was about 15.
Kidzworld: That is so cool to have that going on the side with old friends. Hey you have a ton of film stuff coming up.
- Chris: Yeah, Movie 43 is a collection of comedy vignettes that has a ton of talented people involved. I’m in Get a Job about the struggle of finding a job. To Do List is coming out, another great ensemble cast, Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg. It takes place in the 90’s and is about a girl who doesn’t have any hook up experience so she creates a “To Do” list before she goes to college.
Kidzworld: Those sound cool. Can you tell kids and teens why they’ll especially get into ParaNorman?
- Chris: I think the tagline is cool. “Weird Wins”. It’s cool to show that being weird, in this aspect, can help save a town. It shows that you are not ordinary and you can have a different talent that can help. The movie has a lot of scary parts and a lot of humor and it’s gorgeous to look at. People will really like it.