CS Interview: Jay Baruchel Talks HTTYD: The Hidden World
Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation invited ComingSoon.net to chat with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, star Jay Baruchel about capping 10 years playing Hiccup in the franchise. Check out the interview below, and check out the movie now playing in theaters everywhere!
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the much-anticipated culmination of one of the most beloved animated film franchises in history. As Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) fulfills his dream of creating a peaceful dragon utopia, Toothless’ discovery of an untamed, elusive mate draws the Night Fury away. When danger mounts at home and Hiccup’s reign as chief is tested, both dragon and rider must make impossible decisions to save their kind.
Dean DeBlois returns as the series director alongside the all-star cast, including Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby, This Is the End), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty, End of Watch), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii), Cate Blanchett (The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Thor: Ragnarok), Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, Geostorm), Kristen Wiig (The Last Man on Earth, Ghostbusters), Craig Ferguson (Doc Martin), and F. Murray Abraham (Homeland, Isle of Dogs) as the villain Grimmel.
ComingSoon.net: It’s really cool that you haven’t done the Hollywood thing and said, “I’ll let somebody else voice the TV show.”
Jay Baruchel: Oh god, no. Yeah, no.
CS: You actually have been doing this character continuously for 10 years. If this is the end, how does letting it go feel for you?
Baruchel: I don’t know that I have the words for it just yet. I’ve only started to process that it’s over. I remember doing my last recording session for the TV show and knowing that was it and that was pretty full-on. I never know when I’m done on the movies until they come out. I might have some more recording left to do, but it’s more just you never expect to be part of something that’s half as impactful as the first movie, let alone being part of an honest to god movement in the entire sort of saga. It’s an actor’s dream. You like to make people feel stuff and be happy. No movies do that better than our movies. And so, yeah, melancholy, to say the least.
CS: My first memories of you from “Almost Famous.” “It’s all happening, man!” You were literally a kid in that movie. You were like Hiccup. How is it to be playing somebody that age, to sort of revisit that time in your life for this amount of time?
Baruchel: Totally. YWhat’s been real cool is that each movie separated by years in real life, but separated by years in time as well. I’m 10 years older than I was when we started, it’s been neat to kind of grow up alongside him a bit. Especially on the first one, because I think Hiccup’s meant to be 14 or 15 in the first one. So I just was channeling what it is to be painfully self aware of what a square peg you are in high school. So that’s what that first movie is to me. Then it’s about finding those things that are failing within you are actually virtues, and knowing that your square peg-ishness will serve you well when you get older. I’ve had a lot of personal experience to put into Hiccup.
CS: What are a few of your favorite scenes from the whole trilogy?
Baruchel: I think that first time that I meet Toothless and he puts his head in my hand. I remember watching that. When you record a scene like that, you don’t have a complete grasp on what it’s going to look like, you know? So I remember being shocked and surprised at how much it resonated with me, but also how instantly iconic and timeless it was. I feel like I will see that icon the rest of my life in film montages and meetings and homages. So that’s a big one. Losing my foot was another big one, because I was like, “Oh, we’re making a movie with teeth.”
CS: It’s always a rite of passage in fantasy, when the hero loses a limb.
Baruchel: Loses a limb, exactly right. No, exactly, exactly right. So that was super cool. My bad-ass wing suit from the second one was pretty sweet. The first time I used the first sword as well. When Toothless alpha’s the alpha, in both number one and number two, those were huge ones for me. There’s some real biggies in this one that I’m not going to mention, but yeah. My favorite scene from the whole thing is in number three.
CS: Can you talk about which character it involved?
Baruchel: It involves me. And it involves some dragons. And it involves Astrid.
CS: At the end of the day, what do you hope fans take away from the whole arc of the franchise of the three films and the series and everything?
Baruchel: I hope that they felt like we made movies for them because these are handmade and impossibly unique movies. Nothing sounds, feels, looks like our movies. I hope that we made these movies for whoever likes them, they’re all welcome, but Dean’s an odd bird, and so am I, and Hiccup’s a real odd bird. These are movies made for odd birds. I think a big takeaway is that if you can just hold tight and stick to your guns, what you’re good at, there will be a place for it one day.
CS: I’m not going to name names, but there’s definitely the celebrities who get to voice animated roles because they’re celebrities, and then there’s the people who may be famous actors but they’re dedicated voice actors. You seem like the latter. Is there any ambition in you to continue down the animation route in another franchise?
Baruchel: Oh I love it. I started in voice stuff when I was 12. Some of my first acting gigs were dubbing French TV shows into English. I started in voice stuff. I adore it. And look, when you’re cursed with as weird a f*cking voice as I have, you might as well find a way to make a living off of it. So no, I would love it, because I’m just a big animation nerd. Every Warner Brothers DC movie, I watch all of those things. I grew up on cartoons. I still watch them. I would love to be part of them for the rest of my life.