The Oscars'® Most Surprised Nominee
TM: Yeah, now it's all about that. I'm almost sorry—it's been fun being a nominee for a month, you know? My wife is particularly excited because she got sponsored a lovely dress and jewelry. I think for girls it's more exciting—I just get to wear the monkey suit.
RB: What are you most excited for for the actual ceremony? Anyone you can't wait to see?
TM: The Oscar luncheon was great for meeting people. All the other nominees in the animation category are total heroes of mine. Some of the guys, I grew up on their movies, like [Coraline director] Henry Selick and Ron [Clements] and John [Musker], who made The Princess and the Frog, so it was fantastic just to meet them and shake their hand. I haven't met [Fantastic Mr. Fox director] Wes Anderson yet, so I hope I get to say hi to him. That's what I'm looking forward to.
RB: Can you tell me a little bit about The Secret of Kells' animation? It's obviously different than the animation of most of the films you're up against. It's definitely old school. Why did you decide to take it in that direction?
TM: Well, we were coming from a different place, I suppose. This is an idea I started thinking about back in college, back in 1999. It was sort of a reaction to seeing things like Moulin and other films that were inspired by folk art. Moulin was inspired by Chinese art and Samurai Jack was on TV, and that was kind of mixing up all kinds of indigenous art, so we said, "We could do something like that with Irish art." I wanted to translate a style that was uniquely Irish but still drawing from Japanese and American animation. When it finally went into production, it was 2005 and everyone was saying that 2D animation, hand-drawn animation, was dead because CG was so dominant, and we felt it was our way to kind of keep it alive and try to redefine it a little bit. It's just been fantastic this year that there's two hand-drawn films in the category, two stop-motion films. It's really surprising how it's turned around in the four years since we started production.