Last week the Radio Times featured British institution Wallace and Gromit on their front cover, to promote the plasticine-duo's appearance at the BBC Proms. A large classical music festival, the Proms was a big stage for the hapless inventor and his mute mutt to appear on, and RT spoke to the pair's creator, Aardman's Nick Park, about the appearance and other things Aardman.
As well as discussing the logistics of their appearance at the Proms, music used in the appearance and Gromit's favourite composers ("Poochini and Bark"), Nick Park also spoke about Wallace and Gromit's origins and more. Very interestingly, Park spoke about Gromit's beginnings, and how he was originally conceived as a cat! However, he adds:
"when I came to model the cat out of clay, I just found a dog easier to make... so Gromit became a dog"
He also spoke briefly about Gromit's early characteristics; the article quotes Park that:
"[Gromit] was going to be a bouncy, extrovert character but on the first day of shooting, he was too hard to move. I found it much easier just moving his brow." It was a Eureka moment. "It gave him a personality, an inner, discerning mind. Suddenly he became a contrast; a child more intelligent than his father."
As well as speaking about working with current Wallace and Gromit Creative Director, Merlin Crossingham, and their respective favourite (non-Aardman) animated films - "The first ten minutes of Up. The Incredibles. Toy Story 3." says Park, an evident Pixar fan, whilst Crossingham cites Disney's The Jungle Book, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda and, also, The Incredibles - we also get a little bit on Aardman aspirations.
Park tells Radio Times that he aspires to do something that Disney have done in the past, and Pixar have famously done repeatedly: produce a tear-inducing, emotional film, in the manner of Bambi or Toy Story 3. Park says that he wants to make a film much more serious and emotional than Aardman's usual light-hearted, quirky take, saying:
"We need to tell our own stories, rooted in our own culture, but do it with the equivalent emotion of Hollywood... Billy Elliot did it, and The Full Monty did it, but I don't think we have it yet in animation. Films that get you in the gut. It can be done, but we avoid it because we don't wear our emotion on our sleeves as a nation. We avoid it because we have seen it done badly with Hollywood schmaltziness and triteness."
Wow, that's certainly something I'd love to see Aardman tackle in the future! As much as I adore the studio's quirkiness and more light-hearted takes, originality is what they do best, and this sounds like a very original idea. And we may not have to wait that long to see how it turns out, because Park also - briefly - spoke about his next film, confirmed as not a Wallace and Gromit film; based on an idea he's had for over 10 years! An idea that may well be an emotional one.
We can't wait to hear more from Nick's next project, and will keep you informed as we learn more (on a somewhat related note, this is our tenth Aardman News feature *blows party whistle*)!
All quotes via 14-20 July edition of Radio Times.
In an Aardman mood now? Why not check out our interview with The Pirates! director Peter Lord last month!