Stephen Merchant on Expressing a Mouse


A boy called Christmas airs on Netflix from November 24. Directed by Gil Kenan, the family vacation film stars Henry Lawfull, Michiel Huisman, Stephen Merchant and Kristen Wiig.

“An ordinary young boy named Nikolas sets out on an extraordinary adventure in the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the legendary village of the elves, Elfhelm,” says the official synopsis. “Taking with him a stubborn reindeer called Blitzen and a trusty pet mouse, Nikolas soon meets his fate in this magical, comical and endearing story that proves that nothing is impossible.”

ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke to A boy called Christmas star Stephen Merchant on the expression of a mouse, his favorite Christmas movies, and more.

Tyler Treese: It wasn’t your typical role. What was it like playing someone short for a change?

Etienne Marchand: [laughs] Particularly short. Yes, I’m playing a mouse in case you’re wondering how small I am in this movie. It was fun because I look a lot like a mouse in so many ways. I love cheese. People don’t like me in their house, and initially I made a lot of holes in the house because I’m trying to find a leak and I don’t know where it is. I drew about 15 different holes so my house is now covered with small holes. I am exactly like a mouse. In addition, I am very scared of cats and very nervous with cats. I just don’t know what they are thinking. They always jump on me when I’m around. I think they just see me as a giant tree to have fun with. I felt like I could get into the mindset of a mouse.

These live-action mixes can sometimes lack the chemistry between the real characters and CGI, but the connection really worked here. How did the registration process go? And were you surprised by the chemistry there?

Thank you for saying this and I know what you mean. I think one of the things was that Gil [Kenan], the director and one of the writers, was very encouraging and allowed me to do a little improvisation. So what I would do is watch the scenes that they had filmed and then kind of interact with Henry, who is playing the character, after the event, but I would try to talk to him in kind of a -way communication and trying to fill in the blanks and interact with it as organically as possible rather than being sort of very rigorous and just reading the scripted lines.

So I hope it happened. I had done something similar when I did a voice for a video game, which a lot of people really enjoyed, and it was a similar experience out there where the more freedom you have, in the cabin. voiceover, the more you can sort through to make it feel, hopefully, a little more connected to the people on screen.

I guess you’re talking about Portal 2. So how do they stack up?

Law. Well they are very similar in a way because you walk into a recording booth and you are very dependent on the director telling you what they need because you have to imagine a lot of them. Particularly in the case of this film or else Portal, all the little visual effects haven’t been done yet, so they kind of have to describe them to you. So you kind of have to put yourself in that free space of where you’re running and what you’re afraid of or in the case of Portal, shouting from imaginary porticos on a space station.

So they actually end up being really tiring because you’re there in the booth and yelling and pretending to run and yelling and you go through all kinds of different emotions, you and you have to sort of condense them into a few hours of recording. So they can be quite exhausting and require a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun.

The fantastic setting is an interesting twist on a traditional Christmas movie. Do you have any favorite Christmas movies that have always had a special place in your heart?

I love all the great family movies that take place on Christmas like Die hard Where American psychopath. No just kidding. Although I love these movies, I love the Christmas movies. I was thinking Elf, which is the last great Christmas movie that I can remember falling in love with. And of course, classics like It’s a wonderful life, The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, which I find just fantastic. I made a movie a few years ago called Fight with my family, which is about wrestlers and has a big Christmas scene in the middle. And so I’m desperately trying to make a Christmas movie out of it, and I think no one has realized that yet, but hopefully it becomes some kind of Christmas perennial because I get paid every year then.

What was the process to find Miika’s voice?

One of my comedy heroes growing up was Bob Hope and I loved the old Bob Hope movies that would be on TV. And he always played that kind of cowardly, nervous character who always scratched himself and kind of tried to look macho, but was scared. So I tried to channel that a little bit and I think what I like is that a lot of young viewers won’t remember Bob Hope so I can kind of steal his number and no one else is. ‘will report it. [laughs]


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