Guillermo Del Toro has a magical ability – to create warm fuzzies. As he enters the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Gardens to promote animated series 3Below with Diego Luna, Glenn Close and producers, the atmosphere becomes infused with a joviality and fun innocence that he weaves into his movies and television.
“The last time I was here on this stage I broke a chair, on national TV, with my…humanity.”
And it seems wherever he goes, talent is more than willing to follow.
“Anytime Guillermo calls anyone in Mexico we just melt, and say yes Guillermo of course” Diego Luna reveals.
Guillermo replies to the compliment with humour – “you worked with Jabba the Hutt, I am Jabba the Hutt!” How can you not love an Oscar-winning director who jokes about his large body habitus?
Glenn Close concurs: “If Guillermo calls me to do anything, I don’t care what it is, I’m there. I had a wonderful time skyping the team in L.A. The great fairytales and classic Disney features really affected me as a child and are still part of who I am, so I love the world of voice animation and am thrilled to be part of this story.”
DreamWorks Tales of Arcadia: 3Below is the second chapter in the DreamWorks Tales of Arcadia trilogy, when two royal teenage aliens, and their bodyguard flee a surprise takeover of their home planet by an evil dictator and crash land in Arcadia. Now on the run from intergalactic bounty hunters, they struggle to blend in and adapt to the bizarre world of high school all the while attempting to repair their ship so they can return and defend their home planet.
DreamWorks previously announced the series will feature Luna and Tatiana Maslany in the lead roles of Krel and Aja. Nick Offerman, Andy Garcia, Nick Frost, Alon Aboutboul, Chris Obi, Uzo Aduba, Cheryl Hines, Tom Kenny, Haley Atwell, Danny Trejo, and Ann Dowd will be lending their voices along with returning talent from Trollhunters including Emile Hirsch, Charlie Saxton, Lexi Medrano, Steven Yeun, Cole Sands, Kelsey Grammer and more.
“Tatiana is in my opinion one of the best actresses working today, says Guillermo. “She is completely capable of playing a kick butt and funny character. In the first session, we found the character. She is really good!
Guillermo wanted to create a series that harks back to his own childhood. “Trollhunters was made in the spirit of creating a series like I remember, with no post-modern irony, there’s a real heart and humanity to it. I wanted to break a series for family to watch with cookies and milk. There is tragedy and pathos and beauty, for me like watching Jonny Quest. And there was a Japanese series I watched as a kid about three aliens that came to earth and became a dog, bunny and horse. I thought it was great how they come to this planet and they change and aren’t visible; which for me funny enough is what happens to everybody who has an immigration story. You can be a surgeon in your country and reinvent yourself as a cab driver. I thought wouldn’t it be beautiful for that to happen to a prince and princess and bodyguard. So as they escape the Mothership chooses for them the only world that is so bad no-one will look for them there – that’s Earth. And she analyses Earth and says the most invisible people on Earth are a latin boy , a girl and an elderly man, so she transforms them into that.”
3Below is set in Arcadia, the same town from Trollhunters. “It’s a small town where nothing happens and over the course of three seasons we reveal there are aliens wizards and trolls, because that’s the way humanity is to me” Del Toro continues. “In Mexico when you’re having dinner and you say who’s seen a ghost and two hours later you realise everyone has. That’s the way I wanted to portray a town where everyone is special and strange.”
“Also doing something for my kids is amazing” Luna adds. “They love Trollhunters and they said ‘Wow’ – the only other time they reacted like that was with The Book of Life. They are like ‘the Star Wars thing is whatever.’ I’ve done so many projects I have to hide from them!”
“My character” Glenn Close explains “ is actually the Mothership. She is called Mother, and what fascinated me is she starts to understand human emotions and how important they are, and it changes her even though she’s a computer.”
Guillermo adds “Glenn needed to sound like an AI at the start of 3Below and through the season transforms and becomes a mother. The same is true for Nick (Offerman who plays the royal bodyguard). When he comes to Earth he transforms into a senior citizen, but he sounds like Conan The Barbarian! Nick has a big arc, always puts in a stellar performance, and is a great wood-worker!”
But beneath this light surface, Del Toro’s animation relays serious lessons about transformation and humanity. “One thing I hope people get from the Arcadia tales is the fallibility and the permission to be fallible.”
“What I like to do in my projects is turn heroes into villains and villains into heroes, because we see the world in black and white and we need to exist in the grey. We need each other to give each other the chance to change. The three series are going to do something exciting.”
As an executive producer in the Arrowverse, Marc Guggenheim is no stranger to crossovers and indeed laid Easter eggs from Trollhunters in Legends of Tomorrow season two. A tradition he plans to uphold in this new Netflix animation. “The first season of 3Below overlaps narratively with the 3rd season of Trollhunters. There is an episode in the third season where we meet Aja and Krel. We saw that really from the perspective of Jim, Clare and Toby. In the first season you’ll see those same events from Aja and Krel’s perspective.”
The premiere shows the leads on their home planet with their parents. As their coronation gets underway a military coup unfolds forcing the royal family to run for their lives and escape on the Mothership.
Trollhunters fans will be relieved to hear that almost all their favourite characters will be recurring in 3Below, as Marc Guggenheim explains. “Toby’s in the show, Aaaargh’s in the show, Blinky, Jim and Clare make appearances. Gnome Chompsky is back! And we get to see how this world connects. You’ll see Ely in the premiere.” Netflix boldly allowed them to create all the series at the same time – the third being Wizards, due out next year, where the heroes of Arcadia join forces in an apocalyptic war for the control of magic that will decide the fate of the entire galaxy.
“It has the dynamic of Gravity Falls, Adventure time, these for me are gold standard TV series that appeal to ages 5 to 50. That’s what sets it apart. It has the magic of Doraemon, a Japanese series that’s a masterpiece. There’s a certain innocence in my work though the premise may be adult. The breath that gives life to the project is fairytale” the creator adds.
Del Toro’s breadth of knowledge about animation has influenced his work for some time. Guillermo is hoping Tales of Arcadia will sit alongside those in the upper echelons of animation’s hall of fame, and with the series already picking up 7 Emmys, it’s well on its way.
3Below will be released on Netflix, with all episodes available on December 21st.
Tanavi Patel was at New York Comic Con for MyMBuzz.com
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