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Tim Burton says he can relate to Margaret Keane and Ed Wood

"To me, there's a fine line between what's perceived to be good and bad, and I've been through that myself," Burton says.

By
Karen Butler
Director Tim Burton in an October 2014 UPI file photo.
Director Tim Burton in an October 2014 UPI file photo. | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Director Tim Burton says he can relate to the central characters of his films Big Eyes and Ed Wood because he knows what it is like to put his heart into his art only to have its quality debated.

"To me, there's a fine line between what's perceived to be good and bad, and I've been through that myself," Burton said at a recent press conference in New York to promote Big Eyes, the story of wildly popular 1960s-era kitsch painter Margaret Keane and her manipulative husband Walter, who for years passed her work off as his own and figured out a way to mass market it.

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"When they had that Museum of Modern Art show here, the critics [said] I was about 100 times worse than Walter Keane," Burton said of the exhibition dedicated to his unique visual style. "It got so lambasted and, at the same time, it had a high attendance rate. So, I've experienced that kind of thing of like good and bad and the fine line. Because when you do something, you're very passionate about it, whether it's Ed Wood or the Keanes."

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"There's just such enthusiasm. They thought they were making probably like Michelangelo as [B-movie filmmaker] Ed Wood thought he was making Star Wars when he was doing Plan 9 from Outer Space. So, you understand that kind of misguided enthusiasm and then you understand the sort of polarization of people's responses to things."

Asked why he cast Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz as the leads in Big Eyes, instead of Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp, his collaborators in Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd, Burton said of Adams and Waltz: "Obviously, they are great actors. I've admired all of them and it all fit. It was like he's Walter. She's Margaret and it was just fresh energy for me to work with new people because everybody has been getting sick of the people I was working with, so...

"It's sad, isn't it?" he giggled when the assembled reporters let out a collective, "Awww," then laughed.

Co-starring Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston and Krysten Ritter, Big Eyes is now playing.

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