With How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World bringing the acclaimed animated film series to an end after three almost universally excellent films, the voice cast of the film — including main stars Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid) and Craig Ferguson (Gobber) — are bidding a fond farewell to characters that they’ve been bringing to life behind a microphone for more than a decade.
“Between these films and the TV shows, (America) and I have been playing these characters consistently for upwards of 12 years,” says Baruchel in our video interview with him and Ferrera. “So yeah, it’s inherently a bit sad — like the movie, which is about embracing change and knowing that change is always going to come with a bit of difficulty, we have to sort of embrace that we’ve come to an end, and a rightful end. This is the ending that this story and these characters deserve.”
Written and directed by Dean DeBlois, the action-filled yet poignant new adventure finds Hiccup now the ruler of Berk and trying to find a way for his kingdom of humans and dragons to exist on their own terms. With a new and dangerous enemy close behind them — and a female Night Fury, only the second of Toothless’ own species to ever be seen, suddenly appearing — the two friends lead their tribes on a quest to find the hidden homeland of the dragons and a possible sanctuary.
“I’m in total denial about it. I saw Dean at lunchtime today and I said, ‘That’s really it?’ And he said, ‘That’s really it,’ concurs Craig Ferguson about the end of the series. “He says that’s really it, but let me work on him a little bit and come back to me in a couple of years. I’ll wear him down.”
The How to Train Your Dragon series has been uniquely consistent in its tone, look and thematic pursuits, in part because of the consistency of the vision behind the films and also because they were — after the first was a success — configured as one complete story in three parts. America Ferrara says that gave the movies a cohesion rare for any franchise, live-action or animated.
“The evolution for the individual characters, but also for the overall arc of the story being told, it didn’t feel like there were massive shifts in themes or changes,” says Ferrera. “Really we were exploring one very common theme throughout, which is: how do you step into your destiny? How do you become the person you need to become to live the life you know is waiting for you? I think that’s true for all these characters, but definitely mostly for Toothless and Hiccup.”
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is out Friday (February 22).
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye