Tim Burton

Tim Burton

Director
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Life Story

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was especially fond of films with Vincent Price). When he was in the ninth grade, his artistic talent was recognized by a local garbage company, when he won a prize for an anti-litter poster he designed. The company placed this poster on all of their garbage trucks for a year. After graduating from high school, he attended California Institute of the Arts. Like so many others who graduated from that school, Burton's first job was as an animator for Disney.

His early film career was fueled by almost unbelievable good luck, but it's his talent and originality that have kept him at the top of the Hollywood tree. He worked on such films as The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985), but had some creative differences with his colleagues. Nevertheless, Disney recognized his talent, and gave him the green light to make Vincent (1982), an animated short about a boy who wanted to be just like Vincent Price. Narrated by Price himself, the short was a critical success and won several awards. Burton made a few other short films, including his first live-action film, Frankenweenie (1984). A half-hour long twist on the tale of Frankenstein, it was deemed inappropriate for children and wasn't released. But actor Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) saw Frankenweenie (1984), and believed that Burton would be the right man to direct him in his first full-length feature film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985). The film was a surprise success, and Burton instantly became popular. However, many of the scripts that were offered to him after this were essentially just spin-offs of the film, and Burton wanted to do something new.

Family

Lena Gieseke (24 February 1989 - 31 December 1991) 

Trivia

At the end of Beetlejuice (1988), Beetlejuice metamorphoses into a bizarre creature with a merry-go-round on his head. On the top of this merry-go-round is a smiling skull which became Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). The latter movie had been a pet project of Burton's since his days as an animator at Disney.
He has an interest in clowns, and his films will often include them or make reference to them.
Credits his former fiancée, Lisa Marie, as his muse. She is often in his projects (Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), The World of Stainboy (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001)) or is paid homage in them (she was the inspiration for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)'s Sally).
Engaged to Lisa Marie from 1992-2001.
Used the song "It's Not Unusual", performed by Tom Jones, in Edward Scissorhands (1990) and then in Mars Attacks! (1996).
Lives in Ojai (California) and New York.
Is a "Bollywood" fan.
Nearly everywhere he goes, he carries a pocket-size sketchbook and a small watercolor kit.
Usually dresses in black, because he doesn't like spending too much time matching colors.
Younger brother Daniel Burton is also an artist.
Was voted the 49th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, being the youngest director on this list of 50.
He was hired as the director of the failed Superman (1997) movie.
Among his cinematic influences are Mario Bava, Vincent Price, Roger Corman and Barbara Steele whom he homaged in Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Is a big fan of "nudie" director Russ Meyer.
He once said he never remembers his dreams, apart from five recurring dreams, one of them involving the girl he was in love with when he was a teenager and another involving his parents' bedroom.

Personal Quotes 

You don't know whether chimps are going to kill you or kiss you. They're very open on some levels and much more evil in a certain way.
[commenting on the demolition of the Landmark casino in Las Vegas for the film Mars Attacks! (1996)] "It was like watching something die."
[genres] "I had never really done something that was more of a horror film, and it's funny, because those are the kind of movies that I like probably more than any other genre. The script had images in it that I liked ."
[memories] "I remember when I was younger, I had these two windows in my room, nice windows that looked out onto the lawn, and for some reason my parents walled them up and gave me this little slit window that I had to climb up on a desk to see out of. To this day I never asked them why; I should ask them."
Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book. And I certainly would never read anything written by Kevin Smith.
[suburbia] "I think the atmosphere that I grew up in, yes, there was a subtext of normalcy. I don't even know what the word means, but it's stuck in my brain. It's weird. I don't know if it's specifically American, or American in the time I grew up, but there's a very strong sense of categorization and conformity. I remember being forced to go to Sunday school for a number of years, even though my parents were not religious. No one was really religious; it was just the framework. There was no passion for it. No passion for anything. Just a quiet, kind of floaty, kind of semi-oppressive, blank palette that you're living in."
[the approach you have to take in movies] " . . . you always have to feel like it's gonna be the greatest, even if it's a . . . you know . . . piece of crap."
[Talking about the Batman characters]: "These are some of the wildest characters in comics and yet, they seem the most real to me."
[About working with Jack Nicholson on Batman (1989)] "By the time Jack walks onto the set, he feels very clear and strong about the character. So when you're shooting it's great, because that's when you toy around with the levels of how broad to go."
I'll always remember this image of being in line to see When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), and all the younger kids were like, 'Dinosaurs are so cool!' and all the older kids were like, 'Oh, man, I hear there's this really hot babe in this movie!'
[on WB's lame suggestions for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)] "They thought the Charlie character should be more proactive and that Wonka should be more of a father figure, and I'm sitting there thinking, 'Willy Wonka is NOT a father figure! If that's your idea of a father figure, yikes. Willy Wonka's a weirdo.' "

Filmography

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