Tim Burton on directing the musical SWEENEY TODD: "Singing is a very vulnerable process"

During his press conference at the Venice Film Festival, director Tim Burton was asked about his upcoming musical film SWEENEY TODD and his choice to cast Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, neither of whom had stage musical experience, in the demanding leading roles. “Can they sing?” the skeptical reporter inquired, point-blank. “Well, yeah,” Burton replied. While acknowledging that not everyone in his cast was a professional singer, he pronounced their performances “really amazing, because it’s not easy music to sing. From what everybody says about this particular musical, it’s quite a demanding one. But to have actors do it just made it really special. That made it very exciting, because every single one of them did it–and what’s great about it, is it’s them as characters.”

Burton added, “We worked very hard not to overproduce it–like certain pop bands, you hear the voice and it’s just generic and it could be anybody.” Not so on SWEENEY TODD. “You really hear the actors come through it, and that’s really amazing.”

The process itself was a revelation. “There is something very strange about singing–it’s a very vulnerable process, in a way,” said Burton. “There’s something about people just coming from within their soul that’s very . . . exposing, so I was very appreciative of that . . . seeing them open up like that.” –Part-Time Poet