Benedict Cumberbatch Calls 'The Grinch' Recording Process "Weird" and "Wonderful"

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Benedict Cumberbatch (fourth from left)

Cumberbatch, Danny Elfman and more talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the making of the animated holiday feature at its premiere Saturday in New York City.

For a movie about a grump who hates Christmas, the cast and crew of The Grinch were in a decidedly joyful mood on the "green carpet" at the film's premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City on Saturday.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who voices the namesake grouch with a "heart two sizes too small," described the film's two-year-long recording process as an "amazing" experience. "It was weird. It was wonderful. It was everything that being a voice artist is on a long-haul project like this," said the actor. "It was a lot of fun. Hard work, but fun."

Cumberbatch's co-star, 11-year-old actress Cameron Seely, also made an appearance on the carpet. Although the Grinch shares a fair amount of screen time with Seely's character, Cindy Lou Who, Cumberbatch told The Hollywood Reporter he and Seely never met during production. "It's an odd thing to not be in the room with her, but that's not a novelty for anyone who's ever done one of these [animated films] before," said the actor. Still, he added, "it's bizarre to meet Cameron for the first time yesterday."

The Grinch is the third screen adaptation of Dr. Seuss' 1957 picture book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! It was preceded by an animated 1966 TV special narrated by Boris Karloff and a 2000 live-action film starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch.

When asked why now was the right time to bring the Grinch's tale back to the silver screen, co-directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier cited its central themes of positivity and redemption.

"The story is about this character who is broken," Cheney explained. "His heart is broken, his life is a little bit broken. And we go on this journey where he is healed and he is able to connect with people again. And I think that's the kind of story that is good for any time, especially nowadays — the transformative power of forgiveness and kindness."

Agreeing with Cheney, Mosier added, "I also think that with the technology of digital CG movies, we're able to flesh out and build a Seuss world that people haven't been able to see before."

Complementing the CG visuals is the film's use of classic Yuletide tunes alongside modern hip-hop and pop. In addition to scoring the movie, composer Danny Elfman worked closely with rapper Tyler, the Creator to pen two songs for the soundtrack: a remix of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and a new song titled "I Am the Grinch."

"Working with Tyler was a dream," Elfman told THR. "The first time we met, we really connected. He's super creative and one of the most curious minds I'd come across in ages." Describing their collaboration process, Elfman said, "It was real easy. He'd send me a track, I would do some arranging, I'd send it back to him, he'd go, 'Sick!' and add some stuff and then send it back. It was just great."

The Grinch, in theaters now, was produced by Illumination Entertainment. Besides Cumberbatch and Seely, it also includes the voice talents of Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams.