When it comes to live-action films, casting just the right person in just the right role is one of the most crucial decisions of the production process. And when it comes to animated films, the stakes are just as high, since the entire performance is coming from the actor’s voice and needs to convey the exact emotion or tone for what we’re seeing on screen.
For the stop-motion animated ParaNorman, the directors knew what they needed to find.
“For the ensemble, we needed to get distinct voices that jelled together,” says director Chris Butler. ”There had to be a musicality…”
“…or, a matrix of voices,” adds director Sam Fell. “It was important that we find actors who could play the full range of the story; the funny and sassy bits, but also the sensitive and emotional parts. The whole of the movie had to sound right, so it took a while to pick out who we wanted – and then we got pretty much everyone we asked for.”
The biggest task would be in casting the voice of the movie’s lead character, Norman. Fell notes that “it’s difficult to find someone young who has range and sensitivity.” They found those qualities in Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road).
“We’d seen Kodi Smit-McPhee’s astonishing performance in The Road,” says Fell. “We felt that he could carry this movie so that audiences would invest in this boy’s journey.”
As a young boy, Norman is teased both at school by Alvin, voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass), and at home by his older sister Courtney, voiced by Academy Award® nominee Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, Twilight).
“Doing voiceover both excited and terrified me,” reveals Kendrick. “I was flattered to be asked, although I thought, ‘What if I’m bad at this?’ But Courtney is silly, volatile, and fascinating to me so I wanted to play her.”
Adds Fell, “Anna has such a wonderful sense of humor that we knew she could play Courtney’s character arc, showing how there is more to this cheerleader-in-a-track-suit and so bringing forth the movie’s theme of how people are not necessarily as you would have them.”
This is just the first of three movies that Mintz-Plasse and Kendirck will star in together this year. The Seven Sees talked to the two stars, along with Smit-McPhee, during their ParaNorman promotional trip to Comic-Con.