CS Video: Director Genndy Tartakovsky on Hotel Transylvania


Director Genndy Tartakovsky’s name has been nearly synonymous with the Cartoon Network going back almost to its inception, having created the hugely popular “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack” shows as well as being involved with “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars” series.

Because of his long involvement with the cable network, some might be surprised that his very first feature film as a director is Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, featuring the voice of Adam Sandler as the legendary Count Dracula, who now runs a hotel for monsters that will allow them peace and quiet from the humans who constantly want to kill them.

After years of success with the hotel, the Count is now dealing with the reality that his daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) is finally growing up. In fact, she’s celebrating her 118th birthday and she’s ready to go out into the world, but as the Count is planning her birthday party, a human backpacker named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) shows up at the hotel’s doorstep threatening to throw the Count’s party plans into disarray.

While the CG animation may have a very different look from Tartakovsky’s own distinctive art style, he brings the same sense of fun and excitement to the action as well as bringing together a who’s who of comedy greats, many from “Saturday Night Live,” providing their voices to famous monsters like Kevin James as Frankenstein, Fran Drescher as his wife Eunice, Steve Buscemi as the werewolf Wayne and his wife Wanda voiced by Molly Shannon, David Spade voices the Invisible Man Griffin, Jon Lovitz is the hotel chef Quasimodo and singer Cee Lo Green voices a Mummy named Murray.

ComingSoon.net actually had a chance to have lunch with Tartakovsky a couple of months back at the Sony Club, so we already knew quite a bit about how the project came together, but at the Toronto International Film Festival where the movie was premiering as part of TIFF Kids, we had a chance to sit down to ask a few more questions.

In the video interview below*, we spoke with Tartakovsky about:

* Why this premise interested him enough to commit to directing it as his first feature film
* What kind of shape the project was in when he came on board
* How Robert Smigel got involved in the writing
* Working as a director with Sony Pictures Animation vs. the Cartoon Network
* Working with Adam on casting the various voice actors
* How he approached recording the comic actors for the movie
* The day-to-day of directing a movie like “Hotel Transylvania,” being that he was new to Sony Animation
* What the biggest challenge of the movie was
* How he’s now developing Popeye and his own original idea at Sony Animation, of which he said, “I’ve got some really strong ideas for Popeye and I’m really excited about it as well as my original.”

He wasn’t sure if they were going to get a star to provide the voice of Popeye, as he told us, “There’s a lot of great voice actors who could do Popeye and nail it so we’ll have to see… and also, Olive Oyl is one of my favorite characters in animation. It’s definitely going to be tricky. I’m kind of scared of it, like with ‘Star Wars,’ we’re definitely scared of translating something people love so much into a new medium. If you take a tattooed, pipe-smoking sailor into 2012 and how is that contemporary? At the same time, you don’t want to change everything that’s worked about him.”

Hotel Transylvania opens on Friday, September 28. Look for our video interviews with some of the voice cast, including Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, in the next couple of days.

(*And we apologize in advance for our babbling in this interview. By Sunday at TIFF, we were already fairly exhausted and you can kind of tell by this interview.)