Jay Baruchel is a Canadian actor and screenwriter. He played Josh Greenberg in the FXX comedy television series Man Seeking Woman and played the lead character in Judd Apatow's comedy series, Undeclared. He is known for his voice role as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, and for his roles in comedy movies such as Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder, She's Out of My League, This Is the End. He talks about the stresses of life that Hiccup deals with in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and where he hopes to see Hiccup go in the future.
Screen Rant: Hiccup has grown a lot over the course of the series. In this movie he is forced to reconcile the ideal world that he envisioned as a kid with the realities of growing up as an adult leader. In what ways has that affected him in this newest installment?
Jay Baruchel: It’s everything that he's dealing with, you know, it's a different side of the existential crisis that he was kind of going through in the beginning. In the first film he is sort of born into the margins and at odds with the culture that he grows up in. And there's like a sort of that form of a existential crisis where he's trying to see where he fits in, does he have anything to contribute and who is he supposed to be and how much of his dad should he be. In this one it's the other side of it because it's like he's got everything he's fought for and fought to preserve, this paradise where we can all coexist might not be good for us or for them. And well, that's heavy cause that's been like his great defining ambition and philosophies that we should all just be able to live together. And now that's tested and he has to ask himself if that's actually the case. And to me that coupled with him now in charge and struggling with all of that because it's very easy to be the sort of opposition. It's easy to complain about things when you're the one that actually has to create and run stuff. That's a whole other kettle of fish. And I think by the end of it, he really becomes the man he was always meant to be. Right. And I think that this movie ends the way that it should this saga could have no other ending. And the one that we have in this film. And yet it's still hard to see coming.
Screen Rant: It's so touching. You played the role for years and now you finally get to see the conclusion. How satisfying is it for you to actually see this through?
Jay Baruchel: Oh man. Immensely. It's like I have felt so fortunate because like, I really feel like I do such a small, I own such a small piece of this film of these movies, of any of these movies because all I do is talk into a microphone and then three years go by and I'm rewarded with I get to tell the world that I'm part of this thing. I almost feel like I'm running a racket, but it's like really, really special and it's special because I always knew it was good. I know these movies were good and I have no anticipation that they would become a global movement over the course of over a decade. At the same time I always thought they deserve too. So I am very happy to be here at this pool, you know, at this point with this movie. But also that we were able to make this specific ending, you know, because I think our characters and our fans deserve something special. And I think this is the one.
Screen Rant: After, during the second one, did you know that this was going to be the ending?
Jay Baruchel: I'll go one further. I knew that there would be a version of this ending before when we started doing the first one. Because it's kind of been hiding in plain sight because the very first line, the way the movie opens. And you know, whether people notice that or not is a different thing, but I always knew the implication is that they go away and they separated at a certain point. So I always knew the ending would be kind of quasi sad white Fang neighborhood. I knew this was coming, but I didn't know exactly how we'd get there.
Screen Rant: It's funny you say that because I was talking to Dean earlier and I completely forgot that until he mentioned that. I was like, oh yeah, this was like all along. Hiccup doesn't really get to experience the hidden world. Do you think it lives up to his expectations?
Jay Baruchel: Oh, Jesus Christ. Yeah. Does it ever. I think it definitely because he sees the real paradise, you know. He's hell bent on creating it on Berk or what he thinks it's supposed to be. And then when he sees the hidden world and how they actually have a home and how they all make sense together there. I think that's what convinces him that they're better off there.
Screen Rant: You've lived with Hiccup in film, TV, video games for nearly a decade. Are there any plans to revisit Hiccup in any auxiliary medium or are you finished playing the character?
Jay Baruchel: Oh, Jesus, I think I'm finished. It's a hard thing to say because I would, you know, who knows. And it all comes down to if I'm supposed to keep playing them, I think I will. But I don't know that I am, and I think it starts with Dean and I would be really hesitant to do anything that would run the risk of diminishing showing three films.
Screen Rant: What are some of your favorite Hiccup moments from the franchise?
Jay Baruchel: Oh the first time we see him in number two and he's got the suits that really cool suit on is pretty dope. Him sacrificing himself in this one is pretty special. It's heavy duty. And of course him flying alongside Toothless is absolutely, that's one of those special, that's the reason you go to the movie theater. But I'd be hard pressed to do better than like that first time that I get him to touch my hand in the first time. That's like, that's pretty good stuff.
Screen Rant: How do you feel about participating in a live action adaptation if given the chance?
Jay Baruchel: Oh, Jesus Christ. Yeah. I mean, wow. Again, like it depends on so many different things. I don't know that if that ever happened, I don't know that the people in the world would want me to play it. I know as a fan I would love to see a live action version. That would be cool.
Screen Rant: How would you like Hiccup and the Dragon franchise to be remembered in cinematic history?
Jay Baruchel: Oh Geez. I could talk about the sort of technological achievements and all this contributions, which are like, these movies have advanced the medium of cinema measurably. We've always been at the cutting edge and, you know, to me our flick the first one smoked Avatar and so I think that stuff's all cool, but I really like to think that people will remember quite fondly this thing that maybe never. These films are kind of a little engine that could, you know, because I there weren't a lot of people who were assuming the a movie about an awkward kid that trains the dragon was going to connect the way that it did. So I would like to and that we wore our heart on our sleeve the whole time. We were always hopeful. These are very hopeful movies but also very realistic. It's emotionally realistic because these movies have always been truthful about the cost of things.
Screen Rant: It does this great job of making it. It's not just the kids. Everybody can relate to it and it doesn't shy away from the loss of love as well.
Jay Baruchel: That's exactly it. And to love is to lose. And to grow up and to change and all these things that are like important truths that are also, I think maybe potentially complicated and difficult. And in the interest of cleanliness, people would probably just avoid them, but we never did it.
Screen Rant: Very true. So back to the movie, how has Hiccup handle responsibility being chief of Berk and the time between films?
Jay Baruchel: As well as he could, but I think it's also stressed out of here. I think that he sees, that other guy how heavy is the head that wears the crown, right? So I think he's like, yeah, he's very, very short on sleep when this movie starts.
Screen Rant: He looks badass when you first see him. Talk to me about the dynamic between you and Toothless and what's going on in Hiccups head as he realizes he's eventually gonna have to let him go.
Jay Baruchel: Yeah. It's a hard thing for him because he connects with Toothless in a way that he hasn't been able to connect to any person. And he was raised to believe that he was an oddball. And then everything that made him different than the rest of his culture, and that these were failings. He realizes through his friendship with Toothless these are actually virtues. But then he realizes that the best thing for Toothless might not be sticking by him. And that's a harsh, heartbreaking thing that I suspect every parent has to come to that conclusion at some point.
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) release date: Feb 22, 2019