How Teri Hatcher voiced multiple moms in Coraline

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Teri Hatcher got to explore many different sides of motherhood as the voice of Mother and Other Mother in Henry Selick's upcoming stop-motion-animated movie Coraline—and her real-life daughter got in on the act as well.

"I think of it as three [characters]," Hatcher said in a group interview in Los Angeles last week. "There's the real Mother, the Other Mother and then the evil mother. Henry [Selick] actually calls it four."

Although Hatcher admits that there are definite advantages to voice work—no makeup, jeans and a T-shirt, hair in a ponytail—she also says that the physical aspects of her performance were important to the way Selick and his team created the look and movement of the characters. "For the real mom, I put my hair up in a frumpy way and stood slumpier so that I felt heavy and exhausted to find that voice. The other mother was much more postured and mannered. There was still physicality to it, even though you're not in front of a live camera."

Hatcher adds: "Initially, they did the animation against my voice, which is why it was so important for Henry to get the expression he wanted."

The voice sessions were videotaped as a reference for the animation team. When Hatcher recently screened the film with her daughter, Emerson, and a group of friends, the actress says that she may have detected a few of her own movements in her stop-motion likeness. "I think I did some kind of creepy head-tilt thing in the [evil] voice," Hatcher says with a laugh. "I might have even cracked my neck." Hatcher demonstrates with a small popping sound, much to the chagrin of a few members of press.

Since Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman's story, centers on a little girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her mother (or mothers), it was only appropriate that Hatcher's little girl tag along to Portland, Ore., with mom for some of the voice sessions. "She came up to Portland to go to the studio with me," Hatcher says. "She was very intrigued with the story of Coraline. She loves ghost stories, and we're big fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Emerson even got the chance to contribute a few voices herself during the session. "Henry asked her if she would like to record some lines," says a beaming Hatcher before promising that she has no plans to throw her daughter into the business anytime soon. Still, the sessions were a success, and Selick wound up using them in the final cut. "[She is one of the] characters in the picture frame and some other random characters," Hatcher says. He recorded her saying, "Coraline, Coraline, what's wrong, Coraline?"