We had the chance to speak with Craig Schulz, son of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, as well as the director of The Peanuts Movie, Steve Martino. As the two made their way across the country (along with some of the younger cast members of the film: Mar Mar, Hadley Belle Miller, Noah Schnapp, and Fracesca Sapaldi), they stopped in Atlanta to chat about the film which releases in theaters tomorrow, November 6th!
Take a look at what they had to say below!
Why was right now the right time for a Peanuts film?
Craig Schulz: It’s been a long time since we did a movie – 1980. It’s been 15 years since my dad’s passing and the world has changed. Newspapers have sort of disappeared, kids aren’t reading Peanuts in print anymore for the most part unless they dig deep into their iPhones. So I thought we’d want to generate interest in the new generation, yet at the same time satisfy the older generation that really had missed the medium. You know, they see Christmas every year, they see Pumpkin every year, but I think it’s exciting to bring the movie to the big screen again, and with a new medium and with a bigger story that’s never been told before.
Can you talk a bit about casting the kids that voiced the iconic characters in the film? What was that process like and what were you looking for in them?
Craig Schulz: I’d come fresh off of Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, and we did a cast there of all new kids… We had hundreds and hundreds of kids for that one, and I learned that when they sent me the voices that all I’d wanted to hear was them say their name, where they went to school, and what their hobbies were. So when they came up with the cast [for The Peanuts Movie] – we had Christian Kaplan and he interviewed about 2000 kids. I told him the same thing. That’s the best way to hear them, don’t let them act, just let them talk. We wanted a voice that came right out of the Christmas special.
Steve Martino: Those voices imprinted on me from the time I was a child, and I had a lot of nervousness in particular for one character in particular and that was Linus. I think Linus was so charming in the original specials, with his little lisp and I thought ‘Are we going to be able to find that?’… We found this wonderful actor, Alex Garfin, who just had that natural lisp… I couldn’t be happier with the cast, from the perspective of them sounding very close to the originals – we recorded with old ribbed microphones from that era – but on top of that the kids were wonderful performers. They’re natural and that’s what was most important.
The film looks a bit different than the traditional Peanuts style. Can you talk a bit about the style of the new film and how it was created?
Steve Martino: When I was starting on the project, I listened to an interview by Bill Melendez, who was looking back on his entire life and career. And he was talking so wonderfully about all the specials that he worked on, the Christmas special in particular. He talked about the featured films, and he said in this interview that he felt the movie-going audience expected something maybe a little bigger. And I believe that, a movie screen is a big canvas. The opportunity, I thought, was to use some of the tools we use in computer animation to bring this wonderful world to life with a little more detail. Make us feel like that world really exists, but it had to be in the styling of Charles Schulz’s hand. So mantra from me to my team was I want to find the penline in everything we do. Even though we’re using computer animation, you see that in Charlie Brown’s smile, his eyes – the way that’s handled, and whenever there was a question we don’t come up with the answers. You go to the comic strip, and you find the answers there.
Craig, can you speak a bit about how you feel carrying on your father’s legacy?
Craig Schulz: I take that burden on everyday. I work with Creative Associates, which is the oversight committee of the Peanuts world. We look at every single product that comes through every single day and try to enhance what he had done. I think the oversight is at a higher level than its ever been in his lifetime, I know that for a fact. The movie was a huge risk to do that, but again, I wanted to honor what he has done.
The Peanuts Movie hits theaters tomorrow, November 6th!
Photo Information: (Front L-R) Mar Mar, Craig Schulz, Hadley Belle Miller, Steve Martino, Noah Schnapp, and Fracesca Sapaldi attend ‘Snoopy’ and Co. receiving his Pilot’s ‘Wings’ ceremony at Delta flight Museum on October 22, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo Credit: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Allied