Adapted by John August from Daniel Wallaces novel, Big Fish, A Story of Mythic Proportions, Big Fish the movie takes audiences on an emotional ride full of enchanting characters and fanciful tales. DeVito, Buscemi and Bonham Carter play three extraordinary people who have an affect on the man at the heart of the story, Edward Bloom (played by both Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor).
As Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, and Steve Buscemi spoke about Big Fish, it was evident the movie left a lasting impression on each of them. It was equally evident that these three talented actors werent acting when it came to speaking in glowing terms about Big Fish.
There are the alternate realities in this story. How does that work for you when you know that the world youre acting in is sort of real, but sort of unreal?
DANNY DEVITO: For all of us, I know that we were all so taken by the screenplay of Big Fish. We knew that we were in for something quite different. Ive worked with Tim [Burton] on a few other movies 4 movies to be exact and hes always taken us to a magical, whimsical place. Its kind of on the edge of bizarre, and its unique and surreal. But this time hes brought us to another arena of emotion that hes touched in very little ways in other movies, but more in Big Fish than in any other film. While we were making the movie, we knew that going in, that we were really experiencing something special. Not only a unique Tim Burton movie but unique for Tim.
Can each you talk about when you realized that your own fathers were real people, and how that affected you?
DANNY DEVITO: My dad worked very hard. He was a kid from Brooklyn who didnt get very much education. He married my mom, moved down to Asbury Park, New Jersey and married her and worked all his life in various businesses. He had a candy store and a dry cleaner, a lot of different things. He was around the house a lot but he always worked really hard.
I guess the big thing for me is we would sit at night upstairs in his room. He would in his chair and I would lay on the bed or lay around, and he would tell me stories of when he was a kid, just like Albert was telling his stories. Talking about when they would go to movies as kids for a nickel and a ticket. If you got a ticket from a merchant and a nickel, you could go see a show, a vaudeville show and a movie, and it was really exciting. He also worked as a car conductor, taking tickets in Brooklyn on one of the lines. [He] traveled 21 states as a hobo on the freights. So I really relate to this movie in a big way because of the stories that he told me. I always thought, he died before I had kids, I always thought it would be great if he was around to see my kids.
STEVE BUSCEMI: Thats a good question because I think for me, it was when my own son - I forget how old he was, maybe 5 or 6 - it just occurred to me hes looking at me. Im his dad and hes looking up to me and he thinks that Im the dad and I know everything. And Im saying I dont know anything, but he doesnt know that. It made me think of my own dad. Thats when he became human to me. Im saying, Wow. So when he was this age, this is how he probably felt. I expected so much of him but thats when I realized he was just trying to figure it out, too.
My dad is also from Brooklyn and left high school at 16. Went to Korea and then came back and joined the Sanitation Dept. Hes a real regular working-class guy. We all put so much into our parents as these figures, and we get so disappointed when they dont live up to what we think they should be. Then you finally realize, for me its when I became a dad. Its hard. This isnt easy being a parent. Its interesting in the film that Billys character doesnt have his child yet, and you know that as his child gets older and older, hes going to understand his own father so much more.
There was a line in the film about how we never see our fathers in ourselves. How did that resonant with you?
STEVE BUSCEMI: It sneaks up on you, definitely. You realize or you say something or Ive even seen it if Im watching myself in a film sometimes, I see my dad. I didnt know that I had that same expression or that same attitude.