‘Dumbo’: Cast and Crew Discuss Disney’s Newest Live-Action Adaptation

Part of what distinguishes Tim Burton movies from the pack, and that includes Dumbo, is the fantastic team the director assembles. Not only are performers Eva Green, Danny Devito and Michael Keaton back for another spin through Burton’s dark mind, but collaborators Rick Heinrichs, Colleen Atwood and Danny Elfman also return to help bring the director’s vision to life.

Heinricks, who served as the Production Designer and has known Burton for nearly 40 years, believes he and the director have a “shared visual shorthand.” Like every Burton film Heinricks works on, he said he dug into the history of the time period but then “Tim [swept] that all aside” and he had to “put it back together as a Tim Burton film.”

Atwood, a costume designer who has done 11 projects with Burton, considers “the idea of creating a world on a performance level and a period level” an interesting challenge. While Dumbo himself was created through visual effects, Atwood appreciated how much of the production was tangible. Walking around the big sets and interacting with the large props that gave the film its early 20th century feel, Atwood admits it “felt like you were in the moment, in an old timey movie.”

Dumbo, who Burton describes as “someone with a disadvantage and makes it an advantage,” may receive top billing at the circus, but he is surrounded by a group of incredibly loving, flawed performers. To round out the live-action adaptation, new flawed, human characters were added, including Colin Farrell’s Holt Farrier, a World War I veteran who returns to life in the Medici Circus after losing an arm, and Eva Green’s Collette Marchant, a former street-performer turned aerial acrobat.

For Burton, the “human parallel stories” about being self-conscious in an ever changing world made the project even more exciting.

Dumbo Juket Disney

“You don’t have to be an artist to feel like an outsider,” Green said when discussing the film’s themes of overcoming judgement. “It’s okay to be strange or different, it’s actually great– it makes you special.”

Green, who admitted she was “petrified” of heights before starting the role, credits Burton with helping her overcome her fear. Even though she spent months working out and training with a team of “kind circus trainers,” Green admits the thing that helped the most was simply distracting herself from her fear by singing and swearing in French as she swung around in the air.

“You absolutely looked like you were born to be on a trapeze,” Devito said to his co-star.

Devito, who has worked with Burton on films like Batman: Returns and Mars Attacks!, said he was “thrilled” when he received a call about the film. When he learned that his former Batman co-star Michael Keaton was also attached to the project, his “joy factor went through the roof.”

The flying elephant may be the star of the film, but Dumbo’s final look was apparently only solidified about a week ago, roughly a month before the film’s release. As producer Katterli Frauenfelder put it, “it was Tim’s eye that kept evolving to how we see Dumbo.” Drawing on his animation background, Burton went through a lot of character sketches and wanted to make sure the character had a realistic look instead of appearing too fantastical.

“The only thing that’s missing is the main character,” Burton said of shooting the film. “It’s a very unnerving thing.”

On set, Edd Osmond, a stunt performer and creature puppeteer who studied how elephants move, donned a green motion capture suit and stood-in for Dumbo. When Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, the two child performers who spent the most time with Osmond due to their characters’ proximity to Dumbo, discovered that Osmond also played a gorilla in Tarzan, the actors repeatedly insisted on seeing him do his various animal performances.

Osmond may have been on set to help the actors visualize Dumbo, but the character’s auditory features weren’t finalized until the end of post-production. Burton and the sound design team had “a whole array of sounds” to test out with the ultimate goal of giving “him a voice without him speaking.” The character has an incredibly expressive face and there are a few moments through an inverted fisheye lense with odd discoloration, apparently inspired by Burton’s love of science-fiction and movies that show alien’s vision, where the audience is able to see things through Dumbo’s eyes.

“Because it’s his movie, we try to make it so you’re with im and being in the experience with him,” Burton explained.

Dumbo is key Burton collaborator Danny Elfman’s 16th film with the director. The composer, who only saw the animated film for the first time after being offered the position, admitted that he still never “knows what to expect from Tim at all.” Instead of discussing the music, Elfman prefers to show Burton rough ideas and see what he responds to.

“There will be one element that he’s really focused on and the rest is ‘all fine’” Elfman said about Burton’s response to hearing new scores.

Since Elfman prefers writing emotional music, the thing that excited him the most about joining the project was “the fact there’s gonna be some heartbreak in there.” Breaking from his traditional workflow, Elfman said he immediately had an idea for a musical theme based around the separation between Dumbo and Jumbo about a year before he was due to start working on the film and stored it away in a drawer. The piece ultimately became the Dumbo theme and was twisted to be used in heavier moments as well as emphasize the “soaring” and “triumphant” nature of the character.

Emphasizing just how much of a collobarative effort each Burton film is, Elfman confessed that “one of the first question” he always has is “are Rick [Heinrichs] and Colleen [Atwood] on the project?’”

Dumbo image

For Kruger, the decision to avoid talking animals was to maximize Dumbo’s realistic vibe and forego “breaking the spell.” In Kruger’s opinion, keeping Dumbo silent was an attempt to convey the silent expressiveness of character actors like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in a way that “felt organic to this story.”

Growing up, Kruger’s favorite Disney film was Dumbo, so it was a deeply personal project for him to work on. The new film borrows certain beats from the 63 minute animated film, but it is not a pure adaptation of the original, adding new human characters and tweaking the story’s structure.

Stating that he likes to think the animated and the live-action films work on “parallel tracks,” Kruger explained that he wanted to honor the source material and envision where Dumbo as a character would have liked to end his journey. Asked about what aspects of his childhood favorite he felt obliged to incorporate, Kruger said he looked for things that stood out in his “zeitgeist memory,” key elements like pink elephants and firefighting clowns that helped him “honor the original.”

Burton, who appreciates that old Disney movies had elements like “joy, humor and death,” knew he wanted to round out his cast with oddballs since the story itself is so absurd and weird. Calling the characters, and by extension the performers who brought them to life a “weird, dysfunctional family,” Burton believes they honored the mythical elephant in their adaptation.

“We’re all weirdos,” Devito acknowledged with a smile before looking at Burton. “But there is one weird daddy at the end pulling all the strings.”

Top Actors To Replace Ben Affleck In Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’

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Batman Ben Affleck Matt ReevesBen Affleck is officially out as Batman and it's a pretty sad day.

Words cannot describe how sad I am to see Ben Affleck announce that he's no longer Batman. His Batman is why I do what I do. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I fell in love with his comic book-accurate interpretation of the Caped Crusader. It was a breath of fresh air and it felt like we finally had the one true Batman.

Three years have quickly sped by and we're officially going to receive a new Batman for his next movie. Last night, Ben Affleck announced that he will not return as the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves' The Batman and now everyone's attention has moved towards wanting to know who the next Bruce Wayne will be. Matt Reeves is said to want an actor that's around 20 years younger than Affleck while Warner Bros. wants someone older. My guess is that Reeves wants a fresh start while the studio wants an older actor for crossover potential.

In this list, I will discuss the actors I think can replace Ben Affleck as Batman using the parameters that Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. want. Hit Next to see our picks to play the Batman.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender X-Men

Michael Fassbender is an X-Men alum and no stranger to comic book franchises. The actor has shown multiple levels of range and could definitely handle the Batman/Bruce Wayne personality. If they go with the older range for the next Dark Knight, then Fassbender is probably one of the best choices to take over the role.

Ben Barnes

The Punisher Ben Barnes Billy Russo Jigsaw Marvel

Ben Barnes is out of a job after The Punisher season 2 and he's one of the best actors in that series. The second season tied up Barnes' arc on The Punisher and the actor has already told us that that he'd love to play the Caped Crusader. Barnes definitely has the pretty boy look going on for him and I wonder what his take on Bruce Wayne could be.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Ryan Gosling needs to star in a superhero movie. I've always thought Gosling would make a great Batman. Every role that he's done has shown us his capability and he could crush it as Bruce Wayne.

Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm Mad Men

Jon Hamm is my top choice for an older Batman. If Warner Bros. wants to cast an older actor for crossover potential, Jon Hamm is the studio's best bet. He has a similar look to Ben Affleck, and c'mon, the guy's look just screams Bruce Wayne.

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Armie Hammer is 32 years old and was cast as the Caped Crusader in George Miller's Justice League: Mortal. That film will never see the light of day, but that doesn’t mean that Hammer doesn't deserve a second shot at being the Batman. He's charming, broody and will probably give his all for this role. Armie Hammer is a great option because he's young enough for Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. could work in a way for him to crossover with the rest of the DC Extended Universe.

Richard Madden

Richard Madden Bodyguard

Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden is my top choice to replace Ben Affleck as Batman. The actor is young, has the look and definitely has the acting chops to play the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Madden just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television series for the BBC drama Bodyguard, so Warner Bros. may want to quickly snatch him up.

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