The excitement was palpable in the Trollhunters press room at New York Comic-Con on Saturday. Held at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, creator and executive producer Guillermo del Toro, executive producers Marc Guggenheim & Rodrigo Blaas, and cast Kelsey Grammer, Ron Perlman, Steven Yeun, and Charlie Saxton gave us the lowdown.
Check out what Perlman, del Toro, and Grammer had to say here below.
Q: You’ve worked a lot with Guillermo. Is this a different experience working on an animated series with him?
Perlman: It’s a different experience. I’ve done a lot of animation. We did a movie called Book of Life together, which was animated, but this was his project, very much. Book of Life was Jorge R. GutiÃ©rrez. When you are doing a film, there’s lots and lots of prep time, and lots of discussion time. When you’re doing animated, you jump right in and your performance is very prominent and very instinctive, and you’re doing whatever comes to your mind. You’re not trying stuff out, you’re just going for the gusto. I like to work like that. Guillermo likes to work like that, so it was good. It was fun.
Q: How is the approach different from Fantastic Beasts?
Perlman: Whether getting adorned with a thing on my head with 50 cameras on it like Fantastic Beasts, or just using my voice in an animated movie on the other end of the world and sending it back, or going to costume fittings and putting on the makeup, and actually showing up, and physically being the character. For me, the approach is always the same. I gotta figure out who it is, how he sounds, what his values are, and what pisses him off. Especially in Trollhunters.
Q: Who do you play in Trollhunters?
Perlman: Bular. He’s a troll and he’s pissed off all the time. His father’s been in prison for 400 years. You know, when your dad goes out to buy a pack of cigarettes, and doesn’t come home in 400 years, you’re gonna be pissed off.
Q: You’ve had a long career. Anything you want to do but haven’t?
Perlman: I mean. Not really. I’ve done a great deal more than I’ve ever dreamed i ever would. Worked with people are real heroes. Living in this ultra mega reality – transcends. I’m a big dreamer. I don’t bother to dream anymore, because reality has overtaken it. It’s good and continues to be good. Is there anything I haven’t done? Sell out.
Q: Your friend Alfonso Cuaron directed one of the Harry Potter films, and now we have that Fantastic Beast series that will be coming out. If you could put any fantastic creature that isn’t in the movie, what would your fantastic creature be?
Guillermo del Toro: Definitely, a dragon. I’m dying to create a dragon.
Q: You’re well known for having such a visual imagination and such a wealth of ideas. How do you narrow it down to decide what projects you’re going to do?
Guillermo del Toro: Thankfully, I don’t decide. I wish I had a sheet that tells me what you want to do, but they don’t. You are at the mercy of the money, or at the mercy of your resourcefulness. If you can make smaller movies… the one I’m making right now is on a much smaller scale, and it means I found a way to squeeze the belt. But if you go for big scale like Hellboy, Pacific Rim, things like that – you can’t decide. Ron and I would have made Hellboy 3 ages ago, but nobody is willing to give us $100 million for it.
Q: In books, we have great writers like Poe and Lovecraft. Do you think you are one of the great names of horror films?
Guillermo del Toro: The only thing that I know is when I think about I wanted to do when I was twelve and what I’m doing now… I’ve been faithful to that guy. Movies I wanted to do as a kid. That’s what I’m doing now. Movies that I wanted to do as a young adult, are the movies I’m doing now. The movie I’m shooting right now is a movie I could have done when I was 23. It has the same, “I don’t give a fuck what anyone wants” quality. And I don’t respond to what’s in vogue, you know? With Pacific Rim, nobody wanted a giant monster, a giant robot. Nobody was clamoring for gothic romance like Crimson Peak. And that sometimes means you go 2-3 years without making a movie. That’s why I keep busy doing other stuff.
Q: What are your dreams like?
Guillermo del Toro: Boring. I’ve had maybe 2 or 3 interesting dreams in my life. When I was a kid – horrible nightmares. But as an adult? The only ones I remember zombies are chasing me on rooftops, or I’m swimming and surrounded by sharks. I think of myself as very edible. Now I dream of the movie I’m shooting.
Q: What was it like working in animation?
Grammer: I’ve done a lot of this stuff, voiceovers… I used to do impressions and stuff like that. you just like to get as colorful as you can. In this case, the character Blinky – he’s sort of professorial in ways, but he’s also energetic. He’s the keeper of the secret of good and evil of the two world interfaces, man’s world and the troll world. He knows that his obligation is to save both through this young man, by teaching him how to become the Trollhunter.
Q: You’ve played so many different kinds of roles in your career. What attracted you to this part?
Grammer: Well, Guillermo… I like working with him.
Q: What is the unique thing about working with Guillermo?
Grammer: Well in this case, he said he never pictured anyone in this role but me, so that’s very helpful. He’s got a great imagination. You know, what’s fun about any of these really creative guys is that they have a pedigree of doing off the wall stuff. You just like to crawl around in there with them, get into the sandbox and play. It’s not unique that he has this gift, but it is rare. And it’s always fun to work with the rare ones.
Q: You are used to working on long-running shows. How do you feel about Netflix? It’s a very different relationship to a show.
Grammer: Yeah. You know we argue about this stuff all the time. I’ve done some producing through the years. The networks, years ago, said we had to have standalone episodes, which meant that they didn’t have to come in any particular sequence. They weren’t laid out in any kind of arc or storyline. That was a real concern in the 90s when we were doing Frasier, but it really worked for Frasier. He took out like 400 women, and had it not work out with anyone. This idea of binge watching is going on primarily because you know there’s another piece of the story that’s going to be advanced with each episode. And… that may be what defines it, the serial nature of it. I did some soap work years ago, which I think is the hardest work in our profession. I’d watch a show and 4 months later, in terms of sequence it was maybe 3 minutes later. But I think that’s what kept people going back. And I think that’s the nature of the binge watching.
Q: Are you a binge watcher as well?
Grammer: Not particularly. I like to get off the couch once in a while.
Q: What do you find the biggest difference is between voice acting and on camera acting?
Grammer: The vocal requirement is just bigger. You don’t have the same luxury of a look that can convey something. Someone may draw that and animate it, and that’s great. When I did Toy Story 2, John Lasseter was reading and he stopped and he ran out of the booth, and said, “Oh my God, I can’t wait to animate that.” I thought that’s a unique way of looking at things, but he’s another creative guy. That kind of energy that he has is very similar to Guillermo’s. A vision that is unique and rare, but playful. Always trying to tell a good story. Tell a story that makes people care about things. I think this achieves that.
Q: Is it easier to work with this cast?
Grammer: It’s easy to work with anybody. We all have our stories, our horror story, but they are really few and far between.
Q: Nostalgia is a huge seller in today’s generation, revivals of shows coming all the time. Have there been any talk about revivals of any of your past shows?
Grammer: Well, there’s Cheers and Frasier. People have mentioned it. I’m not sure anybody wants to do it, so it sorta dies right there. That would be it. Those would be the shows.
Trollhunters premieres on December 23, 2016 on Netflix.
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[Images by Athena Costanza for Geeks Of Doom.]