Think of a film involving Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, and Italian-American mobsters come to mind. So in Shark Tale, De Niro plays a Godfather-type shark who's depressed because his offspring doesn't want to be murderous. Scorsese plays a shady blowfish who decides to take on the piscine mafia.
Did you record your scenes together?
De Niro: Usually, you shoot your scenes separately with a member of the animation team. But in this case, we did it together. It was better for us and for them, as it got a lot of immediacy.
Scorsese: Being able to listen to him helped me to mind my place when I respond to [De Niro's great white shark] Don Lino. We've often fooled around that way over the years, and that all came out when we were doing the scenes.
Did either of you watch animations as a child?
De Niro: The only animation I can remember liking as a kid was Animal Farm. I haven't seen it for 50 years, but it made an impression on me.
Scorsese: It was generally the colour of animations that impressed me when I was four or five years old. I loved the palette of colour. The old Technicolor was so rich. Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny - they all had a magic touch for me.
America's Columbus Society says Shark Tale denigrates Italian-Americans by portraying them as mobsters. What do you think?
De Niro: Everybody knows what the Italians in Italy have contributed culturally for centuries. But there are other characters who are real. And they have a right to be portrayed also.
Scorsese: Me neither. We faced that criticism on one level when we started making films with Mean Streets. That was about where I grew up, about what I had perceived. It doesn't represent the majority of Italian-Americans.