British comic actor Matt Lucas frequently alters his appearance for laughs: On his Little Britain sketch show, he wears prosthetic costumes to look like everything from a steroid monster to an old woman. On the upcoming Comedy Central satirical fantasy TV series Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, Lucas will play an evil monarch with a lavish costume. For two upcoming fantasy films, you might not even recognize him at all.
Lucas plays Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton's interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic books. The film combines animation, live action and motion capture in a 3-D experience. It is not due in theaters until 2010.
Lucas also supplies a voice in the CGI animated version of Astro Boy. That film is from Imagi, the studio that made TMNT, and is due Oct. 23.
SCI FI Wire sat down with Lucas on Jan. 9 in Universal City, Calif. During an interview for Krod Mandoon, Lucas touched on his film projects. The following Q&A features edited excerpts from that interview.
Lucas (right), in character, with his Little Britain co-star David Walliams.
Since the film blends animation, live action and motion capture, what elements were used to create Tweedledee/Tweedledum?
Lucas: Well, you can kind of see my face, and then it's kind of posited in a giant head, twice. If I'd known it was 3-D, I'd have gone on a diet. As it is, my stomach's now going to land in your [lap]. But it was good fun. It's good fun to do. Johnny Depp [The Mad Hatter] was in it. He's this young, up-and-coming guy, a fan of mine. He asked me for advice a lot of the time. Sometimes I'd give it to him.
Who did you work with in your scenes, or are they all composited later?
Lucas: No, actually I worked with Anne Hathaway [The White Queen] a little and Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice, and Helena Bonham Carter [The Red Queen] and Johnny Depp. Then Crispin Glover was there as well, but I didn't have too much to do with him. It was great fun. It was great fun to do.
What does Tim Burton's version of Lewis Carroll look like?
Lucas: You know, I don't know, because about the first five minutes and the last five minutes are shot in 35mm in the U.K. The rest of the movie is green screen entirely, backgrounds included. So I don't know what it's going to look like. I've seen some early artists' impressions, but it was quite weird to be working on a movie where actually a lot of the crew sat at desks on the side of the room with computers, collecting the motion-capture images and things like that. It's a different way of filmmaking. It's actually shot on HD, and it's not shot in 3-D. All the 3-D is done in post [production].
And you're also doing a voice in Astro Boy?
Lucas: Yeah, playing Sparks, a funny robot.
Is it a British funny robot?
Lucas: It is in my case.
How does Imagi's concept of Astro Boy look?
Lucas: Well, I've been really impressed with that. I have a lot of learning to do in terms of the Astro Boy phenomenon, and I know that it is something that means a great deal to a lot of people. I think they've been very respectful of that, but they've also brought it on, and I think they've created some new characters as well. I've seen the trailer, and I think it looks enormously impressive. If you go on the Internet forums, people have been pretty complimentary about it. I'm only a very small part of that, but it's fun to be part of that.