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How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - Craig Ferguson Interview

Craig Ferguson is television host, comedian, author and actor. He was the host of both the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game for which he has won two Daytime Emmy Awards. He was also the host of the CBS late-night talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson for 9 years. Craig has been voicing Gobber for all three films in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise and talks today about aging and how the older generations can learn from and trust the younger generations.

Screen Rant: Congratulations on the film and actually it hit me right in the feels because I've grown up  with the franchise and I started watching the film before I even got into doing all this stuff and I think you guys did an excellent job of concluding it.

Craig Ferguson: Thanks. I mean look in all honesty, it's Dean that takes all the credit for that, but you know, it's funny I was just talking to America just at lunchtime and it's 12 years we've been working on these movies. I thought it was 10, but it's actually 12, because of course you forget the leap time and make these things is a long time

Screen Rant: With 12 years being in part of it, did you ever think it was going to last this long and did you expect it to be what it became?

Craig Ferguson: No I think that after the reaction of the first movie, then you start to get an idea of how important it is the people. But even for the people of your generation. So for your generation and generations who are young, like the generation after us, so like people in their mid twenties, it's a real thing.

Screen Rant: Absolutely. The woman sitting next to me in the screening was like bawling her eyes out. Yeah. Mom. You know, and it's crazy.

Craig Ferguson: Yeah, I know. It's kind of odd and it's kind of odd for me because when I was doing, working on the first movie, my youngest son is eight years old. My oldest son is 18, and my oldest son is going to college to study animation. Then when he was a kid, he used to come here and run around as a little kid around DreamWorks while we were making the first movie. And seeing the early drawings and they're all that stuff. We've still got a concept art from the first movie. It's crazy. It's amazing.

Screen Rant: That's incredible. So Gobber has looked after a Hiccup for his whole life. Did he always believe in him to be the leader he was meant to be?

Craig Ferguson: I think so. I think the voice, what's at the core of these movies and particularly in the relationship between Gobber and Hiccup is extremely loving and a nurturing  relationship. I mean, I think Gobber loved Hiccup's father and I think that he loved the boy. That love manifests itself in trying to mentor the kid after Stoic has gone, you know, so it's really familial. It's lovely.

Screen Rant: Yeah and that's the cool thing about this trilogy is that it doesn't shy away from love and lost love as well, which I think is a pretty brave to do and an animation for kids because it makes it real.

Craig Ferguson: Well the thing is I suppose it’s  an animation for kids, but it also isn't. I mean, 10 minutes into this move, but only this one, particularly the way things are. You're 10 minutes into this movie, you know, voicing an animated movie. It's a movie. It's a giant, epic movie. It's big time Hollywood monster of a film. And I think that it doesn't need to be a kids movie. I mean, it is a kids movie, of course, cause it's about vikings and dragons. But it's not really a kids movie.

Screen Rant: Gobber was always hesitant with the Dragon Utopia. To find the Dragon Utopia. Why is that?

Craig: I think it's old prejudice. I mean, I think Gobber is a great example of one of the themes in the movie about, you know older people can learn stuff from younger generations. A lot of my generation, right now, I'm 56 years old, my generation complain about millennials, but millennials are doing okay and the generation that are coming after the millennials seem even smarter than that. Actually I think they seem a lot smarter than that.  And I think that, you know, the idea of learning from youth as opposed to just trying to suppress is one of the things I like most about Gobber and also he's an unusual character. He has hidden depths. I think.

Screen Rant: I love that answer actually, because it's something I had never really even looked at with the character is that it's learning from youth and it's like getting rid of that old kind of prejudice.

Craig Ferguson: Old ideas, man, old ideas will f*** you up.

Screen Rant: I never looked at the character like that and it opens my eyes a little bit. So Gobber served under Hiccups' father and Hiccup. Do you think you felt responsible for him after his father passed away?

Craig Ferguson: I think he felt a sense of, yeah, I think he does. He does and continues to feel a sense of responsibility for the boy. But the boy is not a boy anymore. You've seen the movie.  It catches you in your throat.

Screen Rant: I'm don't want to spoil anything, but that final scene that kind of happens. So, so touching.

Craig Ferguson: You'll cry there.

Screen Rant : Yeah seriously. At the start of the franchise, no one believed Hiccup could lead you guys. What do you think that Gobber saw in Hiccup to let him know that he was a true leader? Or do you think he saw his father in him or what was it about him?

Craig Ferguson: I think he loved the kid and loved his mind. And I think what Gober an important character in these movies is that he sees Hiccup first before Hiccup sees Hiccup and what he's capable of. And you know, in the first movie if you recall, Gobber is the advocate for Hiccup with Stoic. Saying you have to see what he's done. You have to see what he's doing with this dragon, we have to pay attention to this. And so I think he early on he recognizes perhaps not a traditional gruff Viking leadership but maybe a new style of leadership and new type of Viking, which is great. What a cool thing to see.

Screen Rant: You've been doing this for 12 years. Is it easy for you to get back into the world of How to Train Your Dragon and then just pick it right back up?

Craig Ferguson: Yeah, it is now. It was never immensely difficult, but it is very easy now in fact, a lot of this movie usually in the last two movies, Dean and I are in the studio at the same time. He's not even behind glass. He's just in the studio and we're working on it together. In this movie at least one pass of the script we did, I was in Glasgow, he was in Burbank and we did it on Facetime and then laying the line. Satellite like I was recording in Glasgow and Dean was giving me notes and stuff. It's fantastic. It was really cool.

Screen Rant: With the process of doing these films and you've obviously seen advancements in technology, does it make it easier for you as an actor, but the heart of the characters still the same.

Craig Ferguson: Yeah. Nothing changes with all of that, but I think, you know  the heart of the characters from the Iliad and the Odyssey don't change to whatever  Marvel are churning out next week. A character is a character. Here's the heroe, the heroes villain and how you make that happen, whether it’s fountain  pen or you know, a super computer, the size of your fingertip it as what it is.

How to Train Your Dragon Movie

Screen Rant: Can you talk to me about the collaboration process working with Dean?

Craig Ferguson: Sure. I mean it's kind of, it's, it is a very, I mean, don't mistake what I'm saying. I'm not claiming authorship of the character, but what he does do is he incorporates, what you do as an actor. Certainly, what I do is an actor into what was going on. Like in the last movie, the famous kind of pick up from the last movie. Like we know when there was the thing about Gobber is gay and because of the line that I had ad libbed during the voice sessions. The line was Gobber is watching Stoic and Val having a fight and he turns to Hiccup and says “See this is why I never married.” And then there's a beat and I added, “Oh, and one other reason.” And I think that, you know, and then there was little things changed the direction of the movie and they become organic. I mean Dean is the author of the movies. There is no mistake about that. He makes the decision.

Screen Rant: That's interesting, isn't it? I was always curious about that. When you guys are recording your lines, how much freedom you have to kind of ad-lib and do your own thing and how much that actually makes it in. And how much of that informs the shaping of the characters?

Craig Ferguson: Well, I mean it's all up to Dean.  But in the sense of having freedom to ad-lib in the first voiceover session, zero. By the fifth when you’re friends, as much as you want, just make sure you give them when you went by the third movie. Okay. Give me three verses in line written and then do you think you've got it too? And then I'll decide later.

Screen Rant: How much of yourself do you see in Gobber?

Craig Ferguson: The thing that I admire most about Gobber and that I would want for myself is the ability to respect  and incorporate youthful new ideas into a society, which we'd really would do well to listen.

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Key Release Dates
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) release date: Feb 22, 2019
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