Simon Pegg's character in Tintin// Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Directed by Steven Spielberg, The Adventures of Tintin is a 3D Motion Capture Film starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure. Simon Pegg, who plays a Thomson Twin alongside long-time friend Nick Frost, was kind enough to speak to us about his role in the film, which is set to release Dec. 21st. 


On using Motion Capture technology in Tintin 

It was interesting; it was very new for everybody, even Steven Spielberg, because it was his first motion capture film.  I think we were all of us on our first day of school to some degree and it was interesting and every day we were making new discoveries about the technology and about how to perform within it.  It’s different to live action shooting in that you don’t have you real-life sort of props and costumes.  You’re working in a very imagined environment.

But you are still acting with other actors and moving around which makes it different from just doing a voice over.  So, it’s very much a new art form and I think you know the kind of the rules and what it means. It was great fun to feel like we were breaking new ground.


On the pressure of working on something with a beloved fan base

I think we all realized exactly what we were taking on with ‘Tintin’ particularly as Europeans.  You know ‘Tintin’ is a beloved story in Northern Europe.  You know it comes from Belgium and was made in France and certainly reached the shores of the U.K. when I was a kid because I remember it very clearly being a sort of a Saturday morning serial cartoon.  And the books would translate it into sort of every language imaginable.  So we knew we were dealing with a beloved thing.

But I think Steven had been in contact with Herge’s estate way back when, when he was sort of publicizing ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ I think he discovered ‘Tintin’ and contacted them about the possibility of adapting it for cinema and so – and waited until you know Peter Jackson came along and said ‘hey, this is a way we can do it.’  You know we can retain Herge’s look but we can still use actors and so Steven I think that was what he’d been waiting for.  So you know it was done with a huge amount of love and respect for this sort of material.

So we never felt like we were trashing anything.  We were everyday we had the whole studio lined with pictures from Herge’s works so we always had the characters in mind.  And you know I think that way to go about it.  This was a very tragic thing and we didn’t want to treat it as anything less.


On Brad Bird and Steven Spielberg

Brad is a fantastic stager.  He has an incredible sense of space and sort of place and composition you know, in the same that Steven does I think.  And Steven Spielberg does and I think what Brad did was he did the same thing he would do with an animation but he did it with live action which was enormous fun.  He came to it with that sense of scope and possibility which you know most live action directors realize they don’t have from the off.

But Brad came undeterred with an animator’s viewpoint and he really puts it up on the screen.  You know when you – I saw the film the other day and it’s extraordinary and I think it has Brad’s stamp all over it.  It feels huge and incredibly exciting.

And I think in the same respect you know given one of the greatest film directors in the world more scope which is what essentially happened with Tintin was only going to end up with an extraordinary film and you know being able to shoot from every angle, you know massive long takes, doing all the kinds of things that he’s never been able to do before because of the laws of physics was like giving Steven the greatest gift you could possibly give him, you know.  And I know that he was extremely inspired and energized by the process.

They both bring what makes them great film makers to both respective mediums and I think you know excel for that reason.


On the difficulties of doing animated films

I really enjoyed doing ‘Ice Age,’ because it was a different process as was the game.  You know you’re essentially in a room on your own and you’re getting to hone your character by yourself which has its merits, where as with ‘Tintin’ it was more than voice acting because we were actually physically acting as well, and with all the other actors in the same space.  So we acted at what you see on the screen.

You know we did for real but then it becomes part of the rich universe or the animator’s create and we are the sort of the skeleton in the souls of what the animators eventually put on the screen.  So, they both have their merits.  And I enjoyed doing them both.  It wasn’t until I saw ‘Tintin’ that I realized just how amazing the animators could make the world we were in because we were essentially in a gray room you know wearing like scuba diving equipment.  And you know early, the outset and suddenly you see this incredibly rich and varied world.

And I think most of this 3D is better than I think I’d ever seen.

So if you give it an extra dimension it’s just another part of it’s creative process whereas I think with live action it tends to be a bit tacked on.  I think both of them have their merits and certainly with the performance captures stuff, it’s much more than just a voice.

It’s an entire rounded performance.


On Peter Jackson

Well it was a very interesting process we were all new to. Peter obviously had worked in that medium before and had come to Steven with it to say ‘hey, this might be how you want to do ‘Tintin,’’ because Steven had been in possession of the rights to make Tintin into a film for 30 years.  And I think together they found a way of finally getting it on screen in a way that Herge would have approved you know because it’s very much in keeping with his original drawings.

But had that strange real life kind of live action feel that performance captures gives it.  So we were all including Steven sort of learning the process as we went.  And it was interesting, it was an interesting sort of voyage of discovery which was genuinely sort of fascinating to see a man who was such an accomplished film maker almost like rediscovering the art again because he could finally do different things he hadn’t been able to do before with a normal camera in the physical world.

So, he was grand and I take the advice from sort of New Zealand over iChat and it was surprised fluid kind of process actually.


On his favorite moment

Nick and I did a particularly long scene with Toby Jones which required a lot of self choreography and we did a particularly good take one day and Stephen was so pleased with us he did a little dance.  And to make you know one of your heroes so happy that he performs a small dance is believe quite a wonderful thing.