Having a rather unconventional name is just one of the many interesting things about Genndy Tartakovsky. The Russian-born American who has been active in the Hollywood animation industry for more than two decades is finally making his feature directorial debut with Hotel Transylvania.
He has earlier worked on projects like Star Wars: Clone Wars and Dexter’s Laboratory. In a freewheeling chat, Genndy talks about his journey from being an animator to finally becoming a director.
You stumbled into animation, right?
I was brought up in Chicago where there was no industry as such for animation, unlike LA where you can turn left, step into a studio and find a job. I’ve always loved animation but I kept it a secret as I didn’t want my friends to know. It was an unusual career choice.
At college, you took a class and it went from there...
I went to college to study advertising art. In the first year, I took math, literature and English something I had already done for four years at high school! Then one day I saw this elective and there was an animation class that I didn’t even know existed.
What are your memories of the day when George Lucas called you for Clone Wars?
It was out of the blue. When it first happened my boss Mike Lazzo (TV producer) and me were at a golf resort and I was finishing up Samurai Jack. Suddenly, he goes ‘You might have Star Wars.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He says, ‘Well, they want us to do some stuff in between the movies and Lucas has approved it.’ And I am like ‘Star Wars?’!
How did you decide which creatures and mythological beasts would be there in your upcoming film?
We definitely limit the monsters to mythology or myth or literature, like Dr Jekyll but stay away from Freddy Krueger. The film kind of directs itself in a way.
Did you encourage Adam Sandler to accentuate the Dracula accent? Or did he find it himself?
I simply told him, ‘The bigger you go the more un-self-aware you are about it then the more sincere it will feel’. If he did that voice in live action yes, it might have been crazy but in animation I know the caricature rules and I knew it was the right way to go.