On the set of Dumbo with Tim Burton: ‘Like meeting up with your teenage boyfriend’

As an adolescent misfit, Hadley Freeman fell in love with the warped movie worlds of Tim Burton. What happened when she met Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell and her idol himself?

When I was an oversensitive, confusedly furious and faintly morbid teenager in the 90s, there was one film director who seemed to know my soul better than anyone. And that director was, of course, Tim Burton. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was the first of his films I saw, after being taken by a friend’s mother, who mistakenly thought it would be a typical kids’ movie as opposed to one of the more slyly subversive takes on modern Us life. I was far too young to appreciate all the jokes, but there was something about the colours, the hyperrealism and the Danny Elfman music that intrigued me. It was like being kissed for the first time: you don’t really get what’s happening,
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