Jay Baruchel talks 'How to 2'

Come to think of it, Hiccup really does look like his scrawny voice actor, Jay Baruchel.
Come to think of it, Hiccup really does look like his scrawny voice actor, Jay Baruchel.
Posted: June 13, 2014

JAY BARUCHEL and "How to Train Your Dragon" director Dean DeBlois had more than their Canadian upbringing to bond them during the making of the first film.

They were both sort of artsy, skinny kids who grew up in the hockey-mad, rough-and-tumble Great White North, not sure how they were going to fit in - not unlike skinny little Hiccup, the Viking boy in "How To" who's a misfit among his burly countrymen, not to mention his burly countrywomen.

"It's a story that I lived through, and I know Jay did as well. Feeling a bit out of sorts in your own community, among your peers. You prefer to stay indoors, reading comics and drawing and playing D&D instead of being out there with sports and doing what normal guys were supposed to be doing," DeBlois said.

"Like Hiccup, it's the oddities that made our lives different and special, so that we're now able to affect a great many people."

Two years ago, a great many people paid about half a billion dollars to see "How to Train Your Dragon," prompting the sequel that arrives in theaters today.

Says Baruchel: "I was surprised but not shocked. Surprised because I don't know who, outside of arrogant people, would assume you'd be part of a global phenomenon, but not shocked, bacause personally I thought it was really good, and deserved to have people connect to it."

DeBlois said he thinks a lot of people related to Hiccup, ostracized for his desire to understand the dragons who terrify his Viking village, then hailed for his ability to communicate with them, themes that are expanded in the sequel.

"There's that moment when you realize the thing you got made fun of for, the thing you wish you could have changed about yourself becomes the thing that people begin to celebrate about you, if you can channel it into something positive," DeBlois said.

"Dragon" was positive for DreamWorks. It became a franchise that filled the hole left by the fading "Shrek" franchise, which was the only kind of animated movie the company knew how to market. The more heartfelt "Dragon" was a bit of mystery to the them.

"The marketing department kind of didn't know what to do with it, because they had a model - sort of broad comedy, somewhat sarcastic, glib, full of pop culture references, and we didn't have that stuff to offer them," DeBlois said. "The original ad campaign was marketing something that we were not and it took a while for our movie to establish a new direction within the company. But now it's fully embraced and we are encouraged and emboldened to be daring with it."


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