Green is good

THE GRINCH | De­spi­ca­ble Me stu­dio Il­lu­mi­na­tion tack­les The Who Who Stole Christ­mas…

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For an an­i­ma­tor, at­tempt­ing to re­make How The Grinch Stole Christ­mas is to step into some fairly big ’toon boots. “The first me­mory I have of the story is from the Chuck Jones car­toon,” says di­rec­tor Yar­row Cheney. “It was such a big part of the hol­i­day sea­son for me grow­ing up. Be­cause that ver­sion is so won­der­ful, and so per­fect, I re­ally didn’t want to re­make it. So I de­cided to go back to the orig­i­nal in­stead.”

Push­ing aside Jones’ 1966 clas­sic short (and com­pletely ig­nor­ing Ron Howard’s 2000 live-ac­tion ver­sion star­ring Jim Car­rey), Cheney and the rest of the Il­lu­mi­na­tion team went back to Dr. Seuss’ 1957 pic­ture book for in­spi­ra­tion.

“We wanted the book to be the an­chor of ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing we did,” he adds. “We looked at each il­lus­tra­tion, each story point, each curve and an­gle, and we sort of filled in the gaps.” For Cheney, co-di­rect­ing with Kevin Smith stal­wart Scott Mosier and tak­ing on his sec­ond fea­ture af­ter 2016’s

The Se­cret Life Of Pets, that meant find­ing the warmth in the Grinch’s fa­mously cold heart – a guy who hates Christ­mas so much that he can’t even stand to see any­one else en­joy­ing it.

“He starts out as a real jerk,” laughs Cheney. “But we don’t want peo­ple to not like the Grinch. He should be grumpy, but like­able. He lashes out, but only be­cause he’s hurt. It’s a fine line, but we knew we didn’t want a car­i­ca­ture of mean­ness.”

Cast­ing Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the voice of the Grinch (“We needed some­one who can do ev­ery­thing from sub­tle hu­mour and wacky slap­stick to real emo­tional depth, and there’s just no one bet­ter,” says Cheney), the big­gest prob­lem for the an­i­ma­tors was fig­ur­ing out how to make his world look con­vinc­ingly Christ­massy.

“Ev­ery sin­gle char­ac­ter in our film is cov­ered in fur, and to make mat­ters more dif­fi­cult, ev­ery­thing else is cov­ered with snow. So you’ve got furry char­ac­ters trudg­ing through snow, and the snow has to stick to their fur… Lit­er­ally ev­ery pixel was a tech­ni­cal chal­lenge. If the Grinch wore Ly­cra and lived some­where sunny, it def­i­nitely would have been a whole lot eas­ier!”


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