Trolls, Bergens, Music, Hugging, Happiness and his Positive Philosophy on Life: A Conversation with Russell Brand
From DreamWorks Animation, TROLLS is a funny and irreverent musical adventure, starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. Kendrick is the voice of Poppy, the feisty and fearless leader of the Trolls, who are naturally cheerful and optimistic. They love to sing and dance, and they have rainbow-colored hair. Timberlake voices Branch, a gray and fearful troll. He is convinced that the Trolls’ mortal enemies, the Bergens, will track them down in their forest Utopia and capture them. The Bergens are miserable monsters and they are only happy when they eat Trolls.
The gifted comedian Russell Brand joins the cast as the voice of Creek, a wise, Zen-like, but rather arrogant, yogi Troll, who is captured by the Bergens, along with a group of Poppy’s best friends. They await a terrible fate. Unless Poppy and Branch can save them, they will be devoured.
The upbeat and exciting 3D film, from the creators of the SHREK movies, was directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn. Timberlake is the executive music producer.
Everyone loves Russell Brand’s wise Creek. Purple with greenish-blue hair, he is a hippy guru Troll, who loves yoga and is perpetually positive and supportive. In the Troll community, he’s considered to be a Super Troll, the wise teacher who knows everything. He is a close friend of Anna Kendrick’s Poppy, but as the plot unfolds, it emerges that there are hidden complexities to Creek. The Trolls are contented, living in the forest, far away from their sworn enemies, the Bergens, who are comical gloomy creatures that are only happy with a Troll in their stomach. In contrast, the Trolls hug regularly and are the essence of kindness and loyalty. Their world is characterized by cupcakes, rainbows, and celebration.
Poppy, (Anna Kendrick) is the Trolls’ inspiring leader. Branch (Justin Timberlake), however, is a fearful, pessimistic Troll. He doesn’t sing or dance; he isolates himself and hunkers down in his secure hideaway, preparing for a Bergen attack. In fact, Branch’s fears are well founded. When Creek and several other Trolls are kidnapped, Poppy and an initially-reluctant Branch embark on an exciting, dangerous (and very funny) journey to Bergen Town, intent on rescuing their friends.
The DreamWorks Animation team behind TROLLS was also responsible for the hugely popular SHREK films. Like SHREK, TROLLS is witty, sharply written, warm-hearted and irreverent, with strong, relatable characters. The film was inspired by the quirky cute/ugly looking dolls with brightly colored hair that were invented by a Danish woodcutter in 1959 and have been popular globally since the 70s. Visually, the world of the Trolls is stunning and original, with a distinct felt-like hand-made look that is delightfully tactile. Justin Timberlake was in charge of the upbeat music and the film is full of classics and original songs he wrote for the film, including ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ (a number one hit). Also starring in the film are James Corden, Gwen Stefani, and Zooey Deschanel.
Russell Brand started his career as a stand-up comedian. He rose to fame in the UK, with appearances on MTV and the BIG BROTHER spin-off, BIG BROTHER’S BIG MOUTH, which was followed by two stand-up tours. In 2009, Brand took his stand-up comedy tour to the United States with RUSSELL BRAND: SCANDALOUS. He hosted several award shows including the Brit Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. His films include FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, ROCK OF AGES, ARTHUR, GET HIM TO THE GREEK, BEDTIME STORIES, THE TEMPEST, and the phenomenally successful DESPICABLE ME movies. Brand is the author of ‘My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up’, and the follow-up, ‘Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal.’ His most recent stand-up show was the critically acclaimed MESSIAH COMPLEX. He also wrote the best-selling book, ‘Revolution’. Brand launched a YouTube series, ‘The Trews’, offering his unique take on current affairs, and started ‘The Russell Brand Podcast’. He opened Trew Era Café in London last year, a social enterprise community project funded by his profits from his Revolution book.
Russell Brand sat down for the following interview at DreamWorks Animation Studios in Southern California...
How would you describe the world of the Trolls?
They are innocent and very joyful... That's one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film, that they've got proper joy to them. They have ‘hug time’ built into their culture, which is a really good thing. Hugging releases oxytocin in human beings, a self-manufactured chemical. So when we hug each other more and love each other more, we're making a commitment to move closer to one another and overcome our fear that other people might hurt us and harm us. Hugging is an essentially optimistic act. One of the key mantras or themes of the film is ‘No Troll Left Behind,’ so I suppose a key to the Trolls’ identity is that they are a unified entity, and they represent that emblematically, through hugging on the hour when their little flower watches go off. I think that idea is really cute.
What kind of Troll is your character Creek?
Creek is a particularly enlightened troll. He's spiritually advanced, he's moved beyond the material world, (even if that material is felt), and into a more spiritual domain. He is a guru with an unexpected side. Creek is a transcendent character who believes that Trolls can expand beyond their mirthful, giddy joy and into a place of true bliss. He was a very positive character to play. But Creek's relationship with the other Trolls is one of haughty superciliousness and condescension. He considers himself to be better than the other Trolls, more advanced intellectually and spiritually, and to be vibrating on a higher plane of consciousness.
What initially appealed to you about the film?
I was very interested because the Trolls are everywhere in people's childhoods. Those little Trolls were always cropping up. I’m a person who was born in the mid-70s, so I was always aware of them being around, I didn't know what they represented, except that they had great hair. So when someone told me about TROLLS, it was almost like I was activated by an unconscious awareness of the significance of Trolls from my earlier life. Plus I thought: ‘if they need motion capture, my hair will be useful!
How do the Trolls use their hair?
Their hair acts as a superpower in a way. It is a bit like an elephant's trunk; it's a dexterous entity that the Trolls can use to reach out and grab things. They can swing from trees with it. They use it frequently to get out of jams, to grab one another. You see people getting strangled by Troll's hair; you see Troll hair being used to swing from branch to branch. It's used all the time, and it is also an iconic piece of visual architecture.
What did you particularly enjoy about portraying Creek?
I actually like being in the (sound) booth and showing off. I would read the script and then Mike (Mitchell), one of the directors, would usually go: ‘do your own version of the scene and say some things that you would actually say if you were about to be cannibalized by an ogre.’ I'd say, ‘well, that's not hypothetical for me, that's merely a childhood memory (jokes).’ So it was the opportunity to improvise that I've enjoyed most.
DREAMWORKS TROLLS IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD FROM 13TH FEBRUARY, FROM TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT