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Moscow-born animator gets to ‘Transylvania’ via Chicago

Behind-the-scenes with Director Genndy Tartakovsky Sony Pictures' animatiHOTEL TRANSYLVANIA.

Behind-the-scenes with Director Genndy Tartakovsky on Sony Pictures' animation HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA.

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Updated: October 24, 2012 6:12AM

Growing up in Rogers Park, Genndy Tartakovsky was always in trouble at the end of the school year.

“I drew little comics all through my text books,” he says. “I had to buy a lot of books at the end of the school year because they were so mangled.”

All that doodling paid off. He went on to run the TV cartoons “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” and makes his big-screen directing debut with Friday’s “Hotel Transylvania.”

“I took a couple of art classes at Lane Tech and played football, too,” says Tartakovsky. “Deep down, I always wanted to be an animator and not an athlete. I had that ambition since age 10, but kept it pretty quiet.

“You’re in high school in Chicago and you’re not surrounded by artists. I didn’t want to get judged. There were a lot of blue-collar people around me who didn’t understand, so I kept my comic book life a secret.

“When I went to college, I started making my films and everyone is like, ‘We didn’t even know that you drew!’ ”

For “Hotel Transylvania,” he focuses on Dracula (with the voice of Adam Sandler), who doesn’t want his only daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), to go out into the cruel, monster-hating world where humans just don’t understand his type. So, he creates a hotel just for monsters where they can all hang out together.

This Dracula is upset at how humans portray him — including making up that he says “vant” instead of want.

“I thought this was a chance to redefine Dracula for a new generation,” he says. “This is a broad comedy about the relationship between parent and child. He’s Dracula, but he’s still putty in her hands. He loves his daughter and wants to protect her.”

Tartakovsky was born in Moscow but moved to Chicago at age 9 when he father defected.

“We immigrated in the ’80s, so it was a little hard. Everyone thought Russians were all communists, so I got into a lot of fights.

“We’re so aware of bullying now. Back then you just had to go in and fight for yourself. My parents were so busy providing a life for us that they really didn’t know what was happening.

“I also made some really great friends during the struggle.”

At Cal Arts, he produced two student films including one that became the basis of “Dexter’s Lab.”

“I felt really sad that I had to leave Chicago, but I couldn’t start my animation career there,” says Tartakovsky. “My brother still lives in Chicago, and I try to go back as much as I can. I really miss it like crazy. The people are great, and I even miss the weather.”

“It’s 100 degrees in L.A. in September, and I’m getting really moody. I’m not even a moody person, but I want to pull out my sweaters.”

That’s want. Not vant.

Big Picture News Inc.

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