In the second of our exclusive interviews with some of the cast of Tim Burton’s new film, Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, Flickering Myth’s Scott J. Davis sits down with Asa Butterfield to talk about the film, working with Tim Burton and all that Spider-Man talk…
When did you first hear about the film?
I first read the script over two years ago now, in fact I read the script and the book around the same time and I knew that Tim (Burton) was going to be directing it and I’ve always been a massive fan of Tim even before I started acting – I loved his style. So when I got the script and knew that he was doing it I thought “I’m gonna get this one!” I had already put a lot of work in to this and met with Tim and we had a chat and he told me his ideas and his vision for this story and it was amazing. I knew that Tim was the only man to tell the story and bring it to life.
We talked to Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom in the film) and she spoke about when you auditioned together having already known each other for a while. Does that make acting alongside each other easier or more difficult, particularly with a love story involved?
It makes it a lot easier when you know the person – what’s great about acting is that you get to know people very well and spend a lot of time with them and form good friendships and you form a trust and makes the whole thing easier to try new things. It’s probably one of the reasons why were are both here now! When you already have that relationship built and a friendship then you can have more fun with and play around with things together.
Tim Burton has had a long and successful career – what was the the first film(s) of his that you had seen?
The first film of his I saw I think was Beetlejuice, then I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but I didn’t watch Edward Scissorhands until much later. I love all of his films, the visuals he manages to get and show off – he is a bit of a show-off in that sense in that I think he knows he’s good and knows his ideas are good and when he puts that onto the screen everyone laps it up because it’s so different and challenges your expectations
There is a hugely eclectic cast on this film led by Eva Green in the title role. How was it working alongside her?
She’s phenomenal and she’s great in this one too. She put in a lot of work in to capture the physicality of her character (Miss Peregrine) which was really important because not only is she the guardian of these kids but she’s also like a bird – on-set you would see her perched on the edge of her seat and it was perfect, with that and the costume and the hair it’s such a memorable character.
Once again the film has you using an American accent. Is it strange as a Brit and filming for a long period in Britain to be using the accent?
I’ve actually gotten very used to it, almost too into it. It’s very easy to slip into it particularly in America even when I’m not filming I just slip into the accent because it comes so naturally to me. The accent itself is much easier to speak in, it’s much less effort! Even now I’d rather be talking in the American accent as you don’t have to move your mouth as much or pronounce as much – it’s less effort.
Your big set-piece on the film involved lots of underwater work and swimming. How physically demanding was that sequence?
We spent a week in a tank though it felt like two weeks! We were both blind under there and we had to get used to keeping your eyes open underwater while being down there for a long amount of time. It was hard but after a few days it becomes quite peaceful while you’re waiting for all the cameras to be set up, rather than getting out and back in again you can just stay there where its not too cold or too warm you can just close your eyes and just float at the bottom of this huge tank and feel very zen.
With other books published in the series, the door is open for potential sequels if this one is successful. Are you keen to do more films and would you want Tim to return behind the camera?
I loved there to be some sequels as I think the books get better and better. I would love to do it with Tim but what’s great about this story is that it’s the set-up to this weird world and Tim has really nailed that and set a great foundation for this world and story. In the next two books they are more adventurous and daring and a little scarier so I could see someone else who is able to use all this material and what Tim has done and make the second story more of a journey.
The trailer for your next film The Space Between Us was released not too long ago – are you excited for people to see it and did you enjoy the different challenge?
It’s a really sweet, small story that’s told on a huge galactic scale which I think is what’s unique about it with this character who goes from one planet to the next and sees Earth of the first time with fresh eyes which I’ve never really seen in a film. What the film really highlights is the beauty of Earth and how lucky we are to live on this incredible planet with all these variations.
Before Tom Holland was cast as Spider-Man your name was mentioned many times online as the potential new webslinger. Are comic book films something that still interests you as an actor?
I always try to keep my options open – I think playing an iconic role like Peter Parker or any of the others, it’s always going to be difficult because you have a lot to live up to and to really own these characters who many people love and adore. To be given an opportunity to give your take on a character like that and something that you love is great. On the other side of the coin coming up with something totally original is just as fun because you get to start from scratch and create a new character which may well become iconic itself, you never know. I think Tom Holland did an incredible job, I think he nailed it.
Are you more a DC or Marvel fan?
DC honestly – just from the comics and the cartoon series. I like the grittiness of DC.
Would a role in the DC Extended Universe be something that may peak your interest? Looking at you, maybe playing Robin or Nightwing would fit?
Don’t jinx it! I’m maybe a bit too tall for Robin and about the same height as Ben Affleck but maybe someone who’s taller and sleek and a little sneaky!
They went younger with Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Maybe you could be the new Riddler, he’s tall and sleek!
Stop, you’re getting me excited!
Are you a fan of the new DC films, Batman v Superman, etc.?
I’m a big fan and I’m really excited to see Justice League!
Our thanks to Asa Butterfield for his time for the interview.
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children opens in UK cinemas on Thursday September 29th.