From Billy Elliot to Jumper, Jamie Bell is the iconic Speilberg’s Tintin, the intrepid, boyish reporter who has mirrored countless dreams of adventure, the filmmakers chose Jamie Bell. “Jamie’s performance in Billy Elliot was astonishing to me, not just the subtlety of his acting, but the tremendous physical performance he gave,” Spielberg notes. “Peter and I both thought he had all the right qualities for Tintin.”
Growing up in England, Bell had been a Tintin fan since childhood. “There’s something about Hergé’s art that leaves an imprint on you. It’s unforgettable,” he muses. But now, he had the chance to imprint the character with tangible, human emotions and that thrilled him.
Screenwriter Joe Cornish says that Bell captures Tintin in the mold of the classic Spielberg Everyman – an ordinary kid who finds how extraordinary he can be when life demands it. “To me, he’s like a child’s idea of what it’s like to be a teenager,” Cornish says. “He can do amazing things, yet he maintains an innocence and an insatiable curiosity about the world, a sense that he’s looking for a way to do the right thing in any situation. You feel like anyone can aspire to be Tintin because all you need is the knowledge, the interest and the pureness of heart that takes him through these adventures.”
For Bell, this aspirational quality was the way into the character, taking him far beyond the forelock quiff in his hair that is his trademark. “When you see a young person who is so fearless and so adventurous the way Tintin is, it’s everything you want to be yourself,” he says. “Tintin is a very driven character, a very moral character, and I admire that. He will get to the bottom of things no matter what. But sometimes he’s wrong and that’s when he has to trust in Snowy.”
Snowy, of course, is Tintin’s trusty terrier and sometimes savior. Cornish calls Snowy “almost an embodiment of Tintin’s subconscious” and the trick was animating the character to be both that and just a smart, funny little dog. Though Hergé often ascribed thought bubbles to Tintin’s canine friend, Spielberg felt they could bring Snowy to life in a richly expressive way without that textual effect.
“I think sometimes Tintin makes a great sidekick to Snowy, rather than the other way around,” Steven Spielberg remarks of the much-loved character. “But we decided that if there’s any reality to Tintin at all, it’s that the dog doesn’t talk.”
“The Adventure of Tintin” is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp.