Tim Burton Producer | Miscellaneous Crew | Director
Date of Birth 25 August 1958, Burbank, California, USA
Birth Name Timothy Walter Burton
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)
Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was especially fond of films with Vincent Price). When he was in the ninth grade, his artistic talent was recognized by a local garbage company, when he won a prize for an anti-litter poster he designed. The company placed this poster on all of their garbage trucks for a year. After graduating from high school, he attended California Institute of the Arts. Like so many others who graduated from that school, Burton's first job was as an animator for Disney.
His early film career was fueled by almost unbelievable good luck, but it's his talent and originality that have kept him at the top of the Hollywood tree. He worked on such films as The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985), but had some creative differences with his colleagues. Nevertheless, Disney recognized his talent, and gave him the green light to make Vincent (1982), an animated short about a boy who wanted to be just like Vincent Price. Narrated by Price himself, the short was a critical success and won several awards. Burton made a few other short films, including his first live-action film, Frankenweenie (1984). A half-hour long twist on the tale of Frankenstein, it was deemed inappropriate for children and wasn't released. But actor Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) saw Frankenweenie (1984), and believed that Burton would be the right man to direct him in his first full-length feature film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985). The film was a surprise success, and Burton instantly became popular. However, many of the scripts that were offered to him after this were essentially just spin-offs of the film, and Burton wanted to do something new.
For three years, he made no more films, until he was presented with the script for Beetlejuice (1988). The script was wild and wasn't really about anything, but was filled with such artistic and quirky opportunities, Burton couldn't say no. Beetlejuice (1988) was another big hit, and Burton's name in Hollywood was solidified. It was also his first film with actor Michael Keaton. Warner Bros. then entrusted him with Batman (1989), a film based on the immensely popular comic book series of the same name. Starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, the film was the most financially successful film of the year and Burton's biggest box-office hit to date. Due to the fantastic success of his first three films, he was given the green light to make his next film, any kind of film he wanted. That film was Edward Scissorhands (1990), one of his most emotional, esteemed and artistic films to date. Edward Scissorhands (1990) was also Burton's first film with actor Johnny Depp. Burton's next film was Batman Returns (1992), and was darker and quirkier than the first one, and, while by no means a financial flop, many people felt somewhat disappointed by it. While working on Batman Returns (1992), he also produced the popular The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), directed by former fellow Disney Animator Henry Selick. Burton reunited with Johnny Depp on the film Ed Wood (1994), a film showered with critical acclaim, Martin Landau won an academy award for his performance in it, and it is very popular now, but flopped during its initial release. Burton's subsequent film, Mars Attacks! (1996), had much more vibrant colors than his other films. Despite being directed by Burton and featuring all-star actors including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan and Michael J. Fox, it received mediocre reviews and wasn't immensely popular at the box office, either.
Burton returned to his darker and more artistic form with the film Sleepy Hollow (1999), starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Casper Van Dien. The film was praised for its art direction and was financially successful, redeeming Burton of the disappointment many had felt by Mars Attacks! (1996). His next film was Planet of the Apes (2001), a remake of the classic of the same name. The film was panned by many critics but was still financially successful. While on the set of Planet of the Apes (2001), Burton met Helena Bonham Carter, with whom he has two children. Burton directed the film Big Fish (2003) - a much more conventional film than most of his others, it received a good deal of critical praise, although it disappointed some of his long-time fans who preferred the quirkiness of his other, earlier films. Despite the fluctuations in his career, Burton proved himself to be one of the most popular directors of the late 20th century. He directed Johnny Depp once again in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), a film as quirky anything he's ever done.
Lena Gieseke (24 February 1989 - 31 December 1991) (divorced)
Often does the beginning credits sequence with the camera going through something (Batman (1989), Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990) or following something (Batman Returns (1992), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)).
His films often have a Gothic feel to them, often including Christmas and/or Halloween scenes.
Plot often focuses around a misunderstood outcast
Frequently uses composer Danny Elfman
Frequently casts Jeffrey Jones, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, Michael Keaton, Lisa Marie, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gough, Deep Roy and Christopher Lee.
Frequently features dead or dismembered dogs
He often likes to open his films with a quiet nighttime snowfall
Many of his films feature townspeople who misunderstand and/or distrust the lead character
Obsession with horror actors: he makes movies about them (Vincent (1982), Ed Wood (1994)), or he actually casts them in his films (e.g. Vincent Price, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee, Christopher Walken).
Often shows scarecrows in his movies
His movies always opens with a personal version of the studio's logo
Usually includes fantasy elements in his films
Often looks into the main character's past through a series of flashbacks (i.e. Edward Scissorhands (1990), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)).
Fathers are portrayed in a negative light in his films. Whether they be dead (Batman (1989)), purposely ditched their children (Batman Returns (1992)), the main characters have remorse against them because of bad childhood memories (Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), or weren't there while their child was growing up (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)).
Stripes: characters often wear striped clothing, particularly black-and-white stripes (for example, Beetlejuice, Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd", Katrina in "Sleepy Hollow", and Tweedledum and Tweedledee in "Alice in Wonderland").
Often shows factory assembly line sequences (e.g. Edward Scissorhands (1990), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), 9 (2009)).
Most his films tend to be either dark or colorful, and sometimes contain scenes of both.
Affectionate homages to the films of his childhood
Long unwashed hair, black clothing and large sunglasses
His characters are often friendly and optimistic despite their bleak surroundings
Effective use of musical interludes
Extremely dark Gothic atmosphere in buildings and set design
Many of his films prominently feature castles, churches or other old buildings
His stories are often set in non specific locations and incorporate elements from Britain and America
His antagonists are often coldly superior, brutal and thuggish but avoid getting noticed by other characters
His heroes are often neurotic, somewhat cowardly and bizarre yet also intelligent and highly moral
Often includes an exterior shot of a house or other structure with a character peering out of a window.
At the end of Beetlejuice (1988), Beetlejuice metamorphoses into a bizarre creature with a merry-go-round on his head. On the top of this merry-go-round is a smiling skull which became Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). The latter movie had been a pet project of Burton's since his days as an animator at Disney.
He has an interest in clowns, and his films will often include them or make reference to them.
Credits his former fiancée, Lisa Marie, as his muse. She is often in his projects (Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), The World of Stainboy (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001)) or is paid homage in them (she was the inspiration for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)'s Sally).
Engaged to Lisa Marie from 1992-2001.
Used the song "It's Not Unusual", performed by Tom Jones, in Edward Scissorhands (1990) and then in Mars Attacks! (1996).
Lives in Ojai (California) and New York.
Is a "Bollywood" fan.
Nearly everywhere he goes, he carries a pocket-size sketchbook and a small watercolor kit.
Usually dresses in black, because he doesn't like spending too much time matching colors.
Younger brother Daniel Burton is also an artist.
Was voted the 49th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, being the youngest director on this list of 50.
He was hired as the director of the failed Superman (1997) movie.
Among his cinematic influences are Mario Bava, Vincent Price, Roger Corman and Barbara Steele whom he homaged in Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Is a big fan of "nudie" director Russ Meyer.
He once said he never remembers his dreams, apart from five recurring dreams, one of them involving the girl he was in love with when he was a teenager and another involving his parents' bedroom.
Played water polo and swam for Burbank High School in California.
Has made eight films with Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Dark Shadows (2012).
Ranked #6 on Tropopkin's Top 25 Most Intriguing People [Issue #100].
Is a big fan of Italian director Mario Bava. He once said he would like to remake Bava's classic Black Sunday (1960) with his former partner Lisa Marie. He also appeared in two documentaries about Bava.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 50th Cannes International Film Festival in 1997.
Grew up in Burbank on Evergreen Street, and his family lived in the 2000 block, near Valhalla Cemetary. Attended Providencia Elementary School in Burbank, California.
Was working on a documentary about Vincent Price, called "Conversations with Vincent". After Price's death in 1993 he shelved the project and it has never been completed.
Was slated to direct The Fly (1986) with Michael Keaton in the lead role, but he backed out and David Cronenberg took over.
Was originally set to do a re-make of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) in the early 1980s.
There were conversations of directing the Broadway musical version of his film Batman (1989) in 2002. The opening night would have been after 2005 but the project was abandoned.
Bought the rights to a Topps trading card series with the intention of turning it into a film, but couldn't decide between calling it "Dinosaurs Attack!" and "Mars Attacks!". Jurassic Park (1993) then came out, and to avoid comparison, he made it as Mars Attacks! (1996) instead, but then it faced comparison to Independence Day (1996).
While at WDFA, he shared an office with Andreas Deja.
In October 2001, he began his relationship with actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he met while filming Planet of the Apes (2001), and she has appeared in all of his subsequent films. They live in adjoining houses with a hallway that connects the two homes, they have a son, Billy-Ray Burton, born on October 4, 2003, and a girl, Nell Burton, born on December 15, 2007.
Johnny Depp is a godfather of his son Billy Ray Burton.
After seeing his performance as 'Big Boy' Caprice in Dick Tracy (1990), he always kept Al Pacino in mind to cast as a villain in a future "Batman" installment. However, after Batman Returns (1992), Burton moved on from the franchise.
Engaged to Helena Bonham Carter [2001-2014] 2 children.
As of 2009, every feature film he has directed has been nominated for some sort of Academy Award, with the exceptions of Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), Mars Attacks! (1996) and Planet of the Apes (2001).
Has his look-alike puppet in the French show Les guignols de l'info (1988).
His favorite films are Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Wicker Man (1973), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), The War of the Gargantuas (1966), and The Omega Man (1971).
Has directed 2 actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor, Ed Wood (1994)) and Johnny Depp (Best Actor, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)). Landau won the Oscar for his performance.
He has a phobia of chimpanzees.
Was at one point going to direct the movie After Hours (1985), but then he graciously walked off the project after he was told by the producers that Martin Scorsese wanted to direct the film instead.
His childhood dream was to be in a monster costume wrecking Tokyo but since he couldn't be Godzilla he decided to be an animator.
Cornwall/Devon filming Alice in Wonderland (2010). [September 2008]
Received a lifelong ban from any and all Comic Con events after the release of his Batman (1989) film, due to it having some 'fundamental' deviations from the canon. He reveals this on a DVD commentary track for the film.
Was originally set to direct Spawn (1997).
Was attached to direct the now cancelled 'Superman Lives' film written by 'Kevin Smith'.
Was considered to direct X-Men (2000).
Was at one point attached to direct 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events' (2004).
Was interested in directing Watchmen (2009).
Often works with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
Member of the 'Short Films and Cinéfondation Jury' at the 59th Cannes International Film Festival in 2006.
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival in 2010.
He owns some "Big Eyes" paintings by Margaret Keane. One of them depicts Helena Bonham Carter with their son Billy Burton and as a surprise Margaret drew Tim's face in the clouds, according to the book "Big Eyes: The Film, The Art".
Four of his films won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction,them being Batman (1989),Sleepy Hollow (1999), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Alice in Wonderland (2010).
He is of English, Scottish, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Croatian, and remote Dutch and French, ancestry.