Guillermo del Toro and Diego Luna are living their best lives. At this month’s New York Comic Con, they are chummy—hugging and exuding such smiles that you’d think they’re two bros gathered to catch up rather than an executive producer and voice actor doing press for Dreamworks Tales of Arcadia: 3Below, their upcoming animated series on Netflix.
And, while Del Toro is now an Academy Award-winning director, he’s still the same affable nerd behind the cross-genre Tales of Arcadia story that began with the three-season, Emmy-winning Trollhunters, and continues with the aliens-on-earth chapter 3Below.
Produced by del Toro, Marc Guggenheim, and Rodrigo Blaas, 3Below stars the vocal talents of Luna, Tatiana Maslany, Glenn Close, and Nick Offerman (as well as Nick Frost, Andy Garcia, Haley Atwell, and Dany Trejo). It follows a teenage prince and princess, who escape their homeward followed an invasion, and are joined by their bodyguard, and sentient “mother” ship. They seek to hide from bounty hunters by posing as the most overlooked people on Earth: a Latino boy, a girl, and an elderly man (with the ship posing as a house).
Set in the same town (Arcadia) as Trollhunters, 3Below will cross over with the former, and connect to Chapter Three, titled Wizards. However, while connected, 3Below stands on its own, at the same time taking inspiration from predecessors.
Guillermo del Toro who is the creator and executive producer of 3Below, said that Tales is not a monster-of-the-week show. Instead, he modeled it after more serialized “gold standards,” such as Gravity Falls, that had a plan from the start.
Fresh from their New York Comic Con panel, where del Toro enjoyed scooping up a handful of birthday cake presented to him on stage, Luna and GDT joined Den of Geek to talk about the DNA of the 3Below.
Den of Geek: There is this mythology and folklore in the DNA of Trollhunters, so what are you pulling from for the fish out of water extraterrestrial story 3Below?
GDT: There was a series I saw as a kid by Osamu Tezuka. In Mexico it was called The Wonderful Trio with a dog, a bunny, and a horse [which were aliens posing as animals on Earth]. I loved that. There’s gentle, really beautiful humanistic examples of creation in that series. And Tezuka can be really tragic. He goes into real dark places. But that’s what I remember the anime of my childhood having.
Diego, as you were seeing the visuals of your character Prince Krel, what was it evoking for you?
Diego Luna: When you start as a story saying, “Okay these are creatures from another planet,” you have a great tool to make a comment in the world we live in. You can use it as a metaphor to reflect where you are. And you can get really deep into people’s consciousness because you bring your guard down as an audience. To me that was something we could do here. You have to see the whole arc of my character in the season: To feel part of something bigger. It’s a love letter to who we are.
You said you saw this with your kids?
Diego Luna: Yeah, I saw it with my kids last night. We were discussing the same topics you know, and we laugh at the same moments and that’s something beautiful. For a long time these films have divided, at least my perspective, as audience with my kids.
Then this is the kind of show to watch together in front of one screen, instead of five …
Diego Luna: You know one thing I did when I watched Trollhunters? I took a picture of my kids watching it, and I posted it. And suddenly I got so many parents saying, “I’m watching it with my kids, I’m watching it with my kids.”
That just happened to me before with Star Wars. It’s the only two things that I’ve felt like, so passionate about, you know. And Star Wars is different because it talks about who I was as a kid. This is who I am as a father. Which is very interesting because it’s a story of kids. [Cinema] can still be a community thing that we watch with our kids in our homes or you know, on the iPad, however. I just want to make sure I have things to do with my kids, no matter what size the screen is, you know.
What is something you’re getting to do with Tales of Arcadia: 3Below, and how is it going to have your stamp on it?
GDT: From my end of things, it has been such a fulfilling relationship, creatively.
A lot of people say, “What have we seen of yours that will give us a little bit of the tone? You have Pan’s Labyrinth, you have Devil’s Backbone…” And I said, Hellboy 2. It has a little bit of that same fun energy. That was my first, full-on family film that I thought kids could watch. I really believe the big difference is how I imagined this show. I imagined watching this with milk and cookies on the sofa with my family as a kid. That’s the spirit of this.
How will this cross over with Trollhunters?
GDT: 3Below is very different [than Trollhunters] yet it is the same universe. What is great is some characters that were secondary characters in Trollhunters are now main characters. Some people you didn’t like, you’ll like. What is beautiful is some kids understand that the world is not just bullies and victims. A bully can be a victim, and a bully can be a friend eventually. A bully is not something that occurred, that he or she can be transformed. This deals with space bounty hunters and huge battles, but I like the transformative power of friendship and understanding.
Diego Luna: The one thing here is that they learn to do everything they have to do on the way up. Whoever they think they are, it’s not enough. They have to start from scratch and they find that strength in themselves and in teamwork.
DreamWorks Tales of Arcadia: 3Below premieres December 21 on Netflix.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!