Nick Park is one of the living legends of modern animation and it’s very exciting to have a new project from him.

The British filmmaker, a four-time Oscar winner (!), utilized the somewhat outdated notion of stop-motion animation, revamping it for a new generation and taking it into an entirely new direction, with his “Wallace and Gromit” films and “Chicken Run.” Stop-motion, the slightly creepy process that had previously been used to bring creatures like living skeletons and skyscraper-climbing apes to life, was now warm, funny, and relatable.

Park’s latest stop-motion marvel is “Early Man,” a broadly comic tale of cavemen who combat the upcoming arrival of the Bronze Age via a game of soccer, is once again brought to life by the brilliant minds at Aardman Animation. (And yes, it’s incredibly British.) It’s full of all of the things that make a Nick Park film a Nick Park film – colorful characters, an expressive animal sidekick, visual puns, and elaborately staged set pieces. It’s a blast and so much fun to be back in his world.

Last week, Moviefone got the chance to walk around some of the intricately detailed sets for the film, talking with Park about the genesis of the film, why prehistoric characters are so perfectly suited for stop-motion animation, and what’s next.

Moviefone: Back when you were working with DreamWorks Animation …

Park: Ah yes…

… Another animated caveman comedy “The Croods” was originally set up as an Aardman Animation movie, right?

Yes, I believe, in its very early stages. I wasn’t really involved in that version of “The Croods.” I was on “Were-Rabbit” back then, and it was really after coming out of “Were-Rabbit” I had this quite separate idea of cavemen and the Stone Age and what really sparked it was the invention of soccer.

Did your experience at DreamWorks inform your approach? There has been speculation about their attempts to tone down what you were trying to do.

Well, from my experience, I enjoyed a lot of freedom with “Chicken Run” and “Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” But I couldn’t say. I don’t think things were going too well at that point, generally, between the studios. We all remained friendly. But I learned a lot. With “Chicken Run” — we’d never made feature films before. So that was very much a learning process, and lots of studio notes all the time. Jeffrey Katzenberg would fly over in his private jet all the time to Bristol, England, to keep an eye on us.

Was there any concern about this story being too British?

There was always a case of “we love what you guys do, but maybe less British?” But now, with this [movie], there was no sense of having to appeal to an American market in particular. There always was with DreamWorks. At first, there wasn’t, but then it became more worried about the markets.What I love about this movie is how much you lean into the stop motion of it all, between the way the fur and hair gets disrupted between shots — and the general elasticity of the characters.

Yeah, it’s like the fingerprints on the clay. Even stop-frame animators find that stop-frame animators shy away from fur and hair and I actually really wanted that slight twitching effect. They call it “boiling.” It reminds me of the old King Kong. It’s like the fingerprints. It reminds you that it’s hand-crafted.

Obviously there’s the legacy, going back to Ray Harryhausen, of prehistoric creatures being brought to life through stop-motion. Why do you think this medium is perfect for that?

That whole subject appealed to me and seemed to suit the medium because the ancient man and the lowbrow — and just thinking about a bunch of lunk-head cavemen — somehow the humor comes out of the technique. The crudeness, I guess, and the earthiness.

What was it like casting the film?

Well, that was one of the most exciting bits. Voices have always been important to us at Aardman, since “Creature Comforts.” Being able to create clay characters around a good voice has always been really important. We’re always looking for something that is extraordinary and different and not too normal. So, yeah, casting was great fun. Eddie Redmayne was great. He does vulnerability well. I wanted him to be a shy but enthusiastic teen.

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