In the movie, we have an actor and puppet who can communicate, but the character doesn’t actually move. It’s a bit like the scene in the movie where they cut to the front of a car at the beginning and it’s just the driver. The character’s speech in that scene was totally unimportant.
If the movie had gone in that direction, it would probably be a bit more boring and not as interesting — it would just be there to be a prop. But it did work like that. I think the biggest trick is to give the character something that’s not actually doing anything, that’s supposed to be doing someone else’s work. So, in this movie, for example, the character is actually a scientist. We were able to use all the science we wanted within the confines of the story, and still maintain the action.
It’s one of two things, actually, where you give something the appearance of doing something but it isn’t actually doing it. One way is to give something the appearance of doing something but it doesn’t actually do any of that; the acting is a little bit more contrived, but both have their uses. Sometimes there are these situations where you don’t know what to do with the other. They’re just puppets. To get them to do some of that work is what we did.
In the movie, the puppet actually moves in a way that is quite convincing. Was that hard to do without moving your mouth?
You look at puppets and you see very fake people and people that make you think they’re real, and the problem with doing that is that you’re using your mouth. The puppet is the one that makes you think it’s real and you know it’s a puppet but they’re not and you know that it’s a puppet. If you’re using your mouth in certain parts of the movie, it makes you think you’re doing something or you can tell that it’s a puppet. But in the end, that wasn’t enough. If the character had the same mouth you’d probably be more impressed by one performance because it was much more convincing than the other.
But we did it pretty effectively. We have an engineer who can tell what’s happening to the puppet. He’ll say, “Look what the mouth can do.” There’s no puppeteer. That’s it. So, the actor and the puppet were able to actually do different jobs. For example, if he’s talking to the scientist in