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 Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel Interview, How to Train Your Dragon

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PostSubject: Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel Interview, How to Train Your Dragon   Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:57 pm

Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel Interview, How to Train Your Dragon
Posted by: Sheila Roberts

From the studio that brought you “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” comes “How to Train Your Dragon.” Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the action comedy directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

MoviesOnline sat down with Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera who voice the characters of Hiccup, Stoick, and Astrid to talk about their new movie. They were a lot of fun to interview and we really appreciated their time. At the press conference, they talked to us about their animated characters, what it was like playing Scottish Vikings, and what each of them would do if they had their own imaginary dragon to do their bidding:

Q: Did any of you have a chance to record together or did you all just meet today?

Jay: We had a couple of times where we all got to work together. It’s always more fun when you get to do it with others as opposed to just in isolation.

Gerard: No, we did. I think it was the three of us. It was the three of us in New York.

Q: Over how long of a period of time?

Jay: Three years for me.

America: Yeah.

Gerard: 25 minutes. (Laughs)

Q: Now that you’ve finally seen the movie, what do you think?

Gerard: For me, it was one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had. I remember Craig (Ferguson) calling me when he had just seen a bit of it. To hear somebody so genuinely excited, he’s screaming, “I’ve just seen some of the movie. It’s better than “Lord of the Rings.” It’s incredible. It’s never been done before. I took my kid. We were so excited.” And to see the whole thing finished in 3D, I thought everybody excelled themselves. Craig was outstanding and so was Jay. I mean, it was just brilliant. And then, how spectacular all the 3D animation was and it was only a couple times I’ve stood up and beamed and been surrounded by my friends who were all just as excited as I was. This, “300,” that’s about it. (Laughs)

Q: Can you explain the rationale for Scottish Vikings?

Gerard: Up in the north of Scotland, a lot of the villages have completely Viking names. A lot of Vikings came down and settled in Scotland and Ireland and a lot of them didn’t, but they took plenty of us with them – mostly the chicks. In Iceland, they say that 50% of the blood is Celtic blood from the females that they stole from us, which I guess is why our country only has dogs left. I’m being funny. It’s a joke. I’ll never be able to go back to Scotland again. I know.

Jay: Oh my God.

Gerard: Edit, edit, edit.

Jay: (Laughs) Best conference ever!

Q: When you watch the movie, do you see yourself and recognize your facial expressions and mannerisms?

Jay: We’re all actors so we’re pretty narcissistic so I assume we’d see ourselves in everything. For me, I totally did. It’s like a real kind of symbiotic process because they record you and videotape you and then animate accordingly. But then, they bring you these sequences they put together and you have to tailor your acting to the sequences -- so, back and forth for three years. And then at the end of it, you have a little cartoon version of you which is pretty thrilling.

Gerard: When I first went into the room and they had the different cameras and lipstick cameras and cameras staring straight at you, I thought why are you doing this? Because I have a sheet of paper in front of me and I’m reading from it and I don’t want to feel pressured to have to be animated in any way. Then, closer to the film, Christophe, who was my particular animator, cut together a DVD of me in the movie and those particular sequences and then me in the studio. Sometimes it was the exact same performance of me spreading my arms and looking up when I’m saying “Odin! It was rough!” and then looking back down. It was an exact match. I think that was them saying “It is. Trust me. What you’re doing is of value.” There are parts in that movie where there’s parts of me when I’m watching myself as an actor that I would call complete overacting that I see even in the movie. But I have to say it works better in the cartoon than in real life, like when I do that big “Ohhhhh!” and it’s awful to watch. I seem to have gotten away with a lot of overacting in this. (Laughs)

Q: America, did you see any of yourself in Astrid?

America: Actually I don’t see any of myself in Astrid. I mean, she looks very different from me which was fun for me because I didn’t feel the pressure to really create the character. It’s one of the easiest and most fun jobs that I’ve ever had, because I could show up and watch the finished product and think they created this character. I provided the voice. I gave them choices, options, whatever and they took it and made it so much better than I could have ever really imagined this character to be. Every now and then her eyebrows did something that I’ve seen my eyebrows do, so I think there was some inspiration on that front of the cameras that they had on me while I was doing the voices. It was really fun for me to sit there and think that I got to be a part of creating this character who is a character on her own. She really isn’t me or a version of me. She’s her own thing.

Q: One of the themes of this movie is the idea of getting to be who you are versus what everyone expects you to be or thinks you should grow up to be. How did you guys relate to that on a personal level?

Jay: To me, the movie is kind of an analogy for any kind of artsy kid in high school, any kid that isn’t playing football or hockey or whatever. The point of the movie to me is like all the things when you are young that you are taught are your failings or your inadequacies are ultimately what sets you apart and makes you kind of special and that’s what Hiccup is. Right? To me, the chicks are more alpha male than he is and he’s forced to be in the back designing his own weapons. But, by the end of it, he is the one that changes everything for them. So that’s what it is. It’s about finding your place and time, I think, for me anyway.

Q: What was it like breaking it to your parents that you’re not going into the family business and instead you’re going to be an actor in the theater or film and TV?

Gerard: They’d just say, “As long as you’re not drunk, we don’t give a shit what you are.” (Laughs) Sorry! I didn’t let you finish the question. I’m sorry. I was just so desperate to be funny. For me, it was an interesting thing because my family always knew that I wanted to be a lawyer (laughs) and now I’m a lawyer. (Laughs)

Jay: I’ve always known that you wanted to be a lawyer.

Gerard: The truth is, I hate acting and I want to be a lawyer. Give me a writ and a court appearance right now! No. In actual fact, I wanted to be an actor but I was a lawyer. That’s what happened. I was a week away from qualifying and was fired and that’s the day that I made an announcement where “Hey, for seven years you thought I was going to be a lawyer. Well, I’m not. I’ve just lost my job and I’m packing my bags and moving to London tomorrow to be an actor.” And, even though I made that joke about my parents saying “As long as you’re not a drunk, I don’t care what you are,” I actually got a letter which was similar to that. I knew how devastated my mother was by this news, but she wrote me a letter saying “You know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do just as long as you’re happy, then I’ll be happy.” And it was one of the most beautiful things that ever went on between me and my mother.

Q: Gerard, at this point in your career, did you ever think you’d play the father that had a teenage son in this movie? Were you comfortable with that?

Gerard: Look, if truth be told, when I took this role it was a different director and it was a different story and my kid was much younger and then that all changed. (Laughs) I mean, it was always Jay playing it, but …

Jay: I was younger.

Gerard: He was younger.

Jay: I even had to do a little kid voice and everything.

Gerard: He had to do a kid voice.

Jay: I’m aware of what I sound like. I know. I’m aware of how I sound.

Gerard: I was comfortable with it because you know what? It’s my voice. It was just my voice. Actually the more different, the more exciting. If they’d asked me to be somebody’s grandfather, then that would have been all the more space for me to try something different. Yes, I was desperately uncomfortable. (Laughs) I’m sorry. It was fine. I want to be a lawyer. Jesus, I screwed up!

Q: America, it’s interesting in animation you’re talking about Scotsmen being Vikings but here you are playing a Viking girl and you get to run away from the stereotypes. Is that something that you feel you can do in animation that perhaps you can’t do in live action?

America: I think the obvious is that in animation they can make you look like whatever they want to make you look like. I think what was really cool is that they could just choose the voice that they wanted and it wasn’t at all dependent on who looked the part which was really nice for me because I got the job. There were actually female Vikings and I thought that was super cool that they put a female character into the story because it could have easily just been all men, a male dominated Viking movie.

Q: Do you anticipate having problems with stereotyping now that you’re leaving Ugly Betty? Are you concerned about that in terms of roles that you’ll be allowed to take or you would be offered?

Jay: We all have those concerns. (Laughs) Stereotyping is part and parcel with every actor.

America: I think that by nature any character I take on at all will have to assume a Latino background because that’s what I am. But I hope that that doesn’t limit the stories that I can be a part of telling.

Jay: I didn’t even think about you being from a Latino background until he said that. That just shows you how little I think about things.

Gerard: Either that or it’s not necessarily so obvious your Latino background.

Jay: I struggle with being Latino typecasting all the f*cking time. (Laughs)

Gerard: For me, it’s Nigerian.

Q: Have any of you considered doing a live action family-oriented movie?

America: I was really bummed that this wasn’t live action. I would be in my sound booth and Dean and Chris would be explaining me scenes, “And then the dragon goes up and you’re above the clouds and you look down and you see the island of Berk.” I mean, “Can’t we just…”

Jay: That sounds like a lot of fun.

America: Maybe we can convince them to turn this into a live action movie.

Jay: That would take a while.

Q: Clearly it would be really awesome if we could have a dragon like Toothless so I was wondering if we could play make-believe for a little while and if you could each say what you would do if you had a dragon like this to do your bidding?

Jay: Oh wow. C’mon!

America: That’s a dangerous question.

Jay: Go to the storeroom, buy Coca Cola. I don’t do much. It’s slim pickins in my life. I don’t aim so high so the dragon would be lost on me, I think.

Gerard: His leg was just going like this under the table. I put my hand on it and I thought “That’s the Coca Cola.” This guy loves his Coca Cola and I identify because I love Coca Cola as well. You spot it, you got it, as they say. The flying sequences in this movie are so breathtaking. You know, I heard about these kids after watching “Avatar” who went into depression because they couldn’t really live in that world and whenever I watch that in this movie, I thought “That’s where I want to be. I want to be up in that sky. I want to be flying through the clouds and to be living in that environment.”

Jay: That was pretty beautiful.

Gerard: Yeah. So I think if I ever had a dragon, I would spend most of my time up in the air all over the place and taking in this beautiful planet.

“How to Train Your Dragon” opens in theaters on March 26th.
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