How to Train Your Dragon 3 Interview: Director Dean DeBlois

Hiccup and Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon 3

Hiccup and Toothless are returning next year in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which will be the third and final installment in the animated fantasy trilogy written and directed by Dean DeBlois. The film picks up one year after the end of How to Train Your Dragon 2, and sees the Viking village of Berk under new threat from a villain called Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), a dragon-killer who made his name by driving Toothless' species to the brink of extinction.

After the first trailer for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World dropped earlier this month, Screen Rant spoke to DeBlois about the challenges of bringing this epic and emotional tale to a close after ten years.

So, we've got Hiccup with a beard at one point in the trailer, and because there was a five year time skip between the first and second movies, I'm wondering how old is he when How to Train Your Dragon 3 begins?

Dean DeBlois: The main narrative of the film takes place about a year after the events of Dragon 2. So there's a five year jump from 1 to 2, and about a year jump from 2 to 3, because we wanted to focus on Hiccup's rookie run at being Chief of Berk. Bearded Hiccup is indicated in the trailer, which is a little misleading because it doesn't speak to the main narrative of the story. There will be moments in the movie where we play with the timeline a little bit. We go forward, and we also go backward. It's all about wrapping up Hiccup's journey from being one of the ne'er-dowells of the Viking tribe to being a wise and selfless Viking Chief.

It's been quite an interesting year for him and Toothless, because at the end of the last movie they both got quite a big promotion.

DD: [Laughs] Yes.

Hiccup became Chief of the tribe, and Toothless became the Alpha of all the dragons. I imagine they now have a bit less freedom than in the last movie, when they were off exploring and having fun.

DD: Exactly. The carefree abandon of youth has now been replaced with some fairly weighty responsibilities. And it also sets up very much in the third installment, where it's like the story's on a dual path. It both tracks Hiccup and Toothless' story - not only them together but also Hiccup's new problems as they arise, and Toothless' new complications as he discovers a mate who is a distraction in and of herself.

Related: How to Train Your Dragon 3 Casts F. Murray Abraham As Its Villain

How To Train Your Dragon 3 - Grimmel

Speaking of the new threats on the horizon, we saw the movie's villain, Grimmel. Can you tell me anything about him? Is he a dragon rider as well?

DD: Grimmel is of the belief that dragons need to be eliminated or enslaved. Put them in a zoo if you must, but he does not want a world in which dragons roam free. He sees himself as a superior species, and made his name by wiping out the most feared dragons known to mankind. Those were the Night Furies. Toothless is a discovery that's made in this movie, but [Grimmel] has built his name and his fame on being the man who drove Night Furies to extinction.

So I imagine he and Hiccup aren't going to get along well.

DD: No, because on a fundamental level Hiccup believes that dragons are misunderstood, and that given the chance we could all live peacefully together. And Grimmel, he's just all about intolerance. [He thinks] dragons are vermin. They are the enemy, they must be suppressed or removed. He cannot tolerate a world in which he has to live with dragons, and the idea that there's some young Viking chief on the island of Berk trying to teach people that they can all live together is personally offensive to him.

This is the final chapter, I understand. There's not going to be a fourth movie in this continuity.

DD: Yeah, yeah, and the great challenge in all of this was the notion that we kind of threw [laughs] a dart at a destination back when we decided we were going to make a sequel from the first film, and that was to tell Hiccup and Toothless' story in three acts. And by having three movies to do it we also knew that our end destination a world without dragons, the world we now know - what happened, where did they go, could they come back? All of those mysteries were delicious challenges back in the day, and they lined up with the inspiration that I took from Cressida Cowell, the author of the books. She had the same ambition at the time she was working on the last installment in her book series, and her goal was to explain what happened to dragons. And though we had very different narratives, as a goal it felt like a really compelling one.

Page 2: The Light Fury and The Hidden World

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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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