During the Variety Screening Series sponsored by Laika, “Missing Link” director Chris Butler revealed when he knew it was time for him to tackle an animated adventure movie.

“After I finished ‘ParaNorman,’ I felt like, okay, I made my horror movie for kids. Now I can concentrate on the other stuff that I loved when I was growing up, which was ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ So the idea was, what would you get if you crossed ‘Indiana Jones’ with ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and throw in monsters?” Butler asked Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge.

Butler’s answer is the animated feature “Missing Link,” a 2019 film that starred Hugh Jackman (Sir Lionel Frost) and Zach Galifianakis (Mr. Link). Butler joined his team — animation supervisor Brad Schiff, puppter fabrication supervisor John Craney, director of rapid prototyping Brian McLean, facial animation supervisor Benoit Dubuc, production designer Nelson Lowry, producer Arianne Sutner and visual effects supervisor Steve Emerson — to discuss the behind-the-scenes work it took to develop “Missing Link” for the screen.

“When I’m writing, I always got a little movie playing in my head. That’s what you aim for. That’s the ambition. But what you ultimately want is to make it better than the movie in your head,” Butler said. “That’s a big part for the actors. And, obviously, in animation, why we always record them first. Because they might do something — like Hugh Jackman as an example, he started doing these vocal warm-ups in the booth where he was singing. And it’s Hugh Jackman singing in a booth. Of course I’m going to put that in a movie. And it also gives this really great, raw material for the animators to work with.”

Butler stressed the importance of finding the right person to voice Lionel.

“Lionel pretty much carries the movie, so I wanted to make him eccentric, but I couldn’t make him too unlikable and a big part of that was casting Hugh Jackman, who is the most likable man in the universe,” Butler said.

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