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‘Transylvania’ stars have monstrously good time

– The first movie Selena Gomez remembers seeing in the theater: “Seed of Chucky.”

Perhaps someday a stranger will ponder the same question and say, “Hotel Transylvania,” featuring the voice of the former Disney Channel star as a vampire girl named Mavis. She’s turning 118, and her overprotective father, Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler), is having trouble letting go.

“I can relate to it, I mean I just turned 20, I still live at home by my choice. It’s good, but we’ve had our ups and downs,” the actress-singer and girlfriend to Justin Bieber said during a news conference at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

Sandler can identify with the other side of the emotional equation in the animated comedy opening in 2-D and 3-D.

“Seeing his daughter grow up, it breaks your heart to see a dad struggling and then also a boy coming into the daughter’s life and having to deal with that. That’s just something very close to me. My kids are very young, but I feel it coming,” said Sandler, seated next to Gomez.

In fact, his two daughters motivated him to make the PG-rated movie, a decade in development. “We want to make a movie that the kids can see and have a good time.”

The panel included several “Saturday Night Live” alumni such as Sandler, David Spade, Molly Shannon and Andy Samberg, along with other funny men and women such as Kevin James and Fran Drescher.

They riffed on each others’ answers, amusing themselves and the media, as if it were an open-mic afternoon. When Samberg said he did seven seasons of “SNL” and by the end “was pretty exhausted,” Spade piped up behind him, “Is that why you look so beat up?”

When the younger star said, “Thanks, Spade,” the other added in a self-deprecating tone, “Spade, who’s 60.” He is actually 48, while Samberg is 34.

Sandler, who fielded most of the questions, called finding Dracula’s voice a scary process. “I went through many choices in the car driving to the first session and then, ultimately, I said I’ll just do a little twist on the Zohan. That’s about it.”

The beauty of animation is it’s one line at a time, and, Sandler said, actors can say the line four or five different ways. Director Genndy Tartakovsky said he could see and hear the actors adjust the timing of their lines, based on the reaction of the listeners, until they teased out a laugh.

And how did the animators come up with the look of Dracula, a wide-shouldered long-legged figure in black cape, with a fuchsia lining, his hair combed back, pale skin and the requisite vampire fangs?

“We wanted the film to be really expressive, so we first started to look at Adam, actually, and to break him down to the barest essentials, which is kind of like a Muppet with beady eyes and big mouth,” Tartakovsky said. “Whoa ... whoa,” the actor interjected.

“We started to build on that, so there’s an essence of Adam in there, but then it becomes his own character,” the director added. “We just wanted things to be very cartoony, very caricature, to have its own identity.”

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