Steven Spielberg’s collaboration with Peter Jackson on The Adventures of Tintin was the first time in his career he had worked that closely with another filmmaker, he told The Hollywood Reporter’s executive editor, features Stephen Galloway during an exclusive interview with the two men in Paris.
Spielberg -- who directed the picture, which Jackson produced -- said he was struck by the humor Jackson brought to the project, based on the intrepid young journalist who features in a series of comic books known around the world. The character was brought to life through motion capture created by Jackson’s Weta Digital in New Zealand.
At the same time, Jackson said he was amazed by his friend’s continuing passion for film. “Steven just walks onto the set every day like it’s the first time,” he said.
In the interview, which can be read in full in the upcoming issue of The Hollywood Reporter, Jackson said that, as a young director, “I started to read about Steven doing the Tintin film and I was waiting and waiting to see it. Then eventually, six or seven years ago, Steven called me.” He admitted he was “a little nervous.”
While Jackson was an expert on motion capture thanks to Lord of the Rings, Spielberg said he learned about it from his friend James Cameron, who invited him to the Marina Del Rey studio or “volume” while Avatar was being made.
“I watched for a while and Jim let me play with — you can’t even call it a camera: it looks like a game controller, with a little television screen and an X and Y control to move the camera around,” he said. “When you walk, the camera dollies; when you go forward, the camera moves in. I was able to play around. Then Peter and Weta devised an entirely new system that was the most remarkable I had ever seen.”
While Spielberg was filming in Los Angeles, Jackson would check in via teleconference at the crack of dawn in New Zealand. “Once, it was very funny, there was one moment where we were rehearsing the actors and Peter had just come down about 4 a.m. his time and I wanted to consult with him about a change in dialogue -- and there was Peter on the monitor,” Spielberg laughed. “I said, ‘Peter?’ And Peter was sort of sitting there, but his eyes were closed. I said, ‘Peter! Wake up!’ And he didn’t move.”
The biggest problem the filmmakers confronted, he added, was the script: “We kept changing the script all through the shoot. We had an entire subplot we cut out. We shot it to thicken the plot, because the plots in all the Hergé books are very easy to understand and we tried to overly complicate them and realized that Hergé was right and we were wrong.”
For highlights from their conversation, and clips from the movie -- which opens in the U.S. on December 21 -- see the video below.