One of the most striking characters in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is not one of the circus freaks or vampires. Mr. Tiny is a large bald figure who monitors the brewing war between vampires and Vampaneze. Michael Cerveris donned a prosthetic suit for the role, but developing Mr. Tiny started earlier.
Michael Cerveris is Mr. Tiny
“Paul Weitz had lots of ideas and lots of images and had been working with the designers and stuff so a lot of the things like the prosthetics and the scale and his sort of dress sense were already kind of in the works,” Cerveris said. “Then a lot of my physicality obviously was determined by the demands of the costume and trying to work with the prosthetics and stuff. Obviously, the real starting point was the books and a lot of that character is really vivid on the page from the beginning so we had a really good head start and we wanted to be faithful to the book as much as possible but also open it up to other possibilities and new audiences who don’t know the books.”
Further thought interpreted Mr. Tiny’s look as a conscious choice. “We tried to find images and time periods that made sense because for a character who could be centuries old and crosses back and forth between life and death, he could kind of dress in any period that he wanted to and sort of present himself in any way that he wanted to. You kind of figure that if he can stop time and create new little creatures out of the dead souls of vampires, he could probably make himself skinny if he really cared to. Then I think it sort of makes you think about what his life is kind of like and what things he enjoys. What he seems to enjoy is creating chaos and then just sitting back and gorging himself on the destruction around him. So that idea of him being sort of a big, rolly polly sort of baby faced sort of gruesome kind of character developed.”
Surprisingly, the suit was not that restricting for the actor. “The prosthetics really move a lot and I spent a lot of time just sitting in the mirror making faces at myself at first just because it was just really fun to see what it did when you moved your face different ways. The things I really was fascinated by were the hands, maybe because I could see them better. But it was all so lifelike looking, even up close. There were people on the set, because I arrived hours before everybody else on the set, the makeup guys would get there, sometimes our call was as early as 3, 3:30 in the morning and I was already in makeup by the time most of the crew arrived. There were a lot of the crew who never saw me out of the fat suit and it was believable enough that if you were standing next to me, you would sort of think there’s something weird about this guy, but you would think that I was actually that fat. Then I would run into them later out of costume.”
If the series continues beyond one film, you’ll find out more reasons to fear Mr. Tiny. “He’s something above and beyond vampires or Vampaneze. He’s not a freak either and gets very testy when it’s implied that he might be. No, he’s somebody who kind of exists outside all of it, somebody who can kind of place things in DNA strands to centuries later come to fruition. I think it’s why he’s the character that even the scary characters are afraid of, because he has powers that extend beyond everybody’s and his intentions are not especially good for anyone.”
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant opens to theaters on October 23rd.