Take Two®

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'Trolls' explores the concept of happiness, a new kind of princess and fuzzy immersion

by Alex Cohen and Lori Galarreta | Take Two®

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Poppy's (center left with guitar, voiced by Anna Kendrick) rendition of "The Sounds of Silence" reaches its climax as a grumpy Branch (center right, voiced by Justin Timberlake) looks on in DreamWorks Animation's TROLLS. Courtesy: DreamWorks Animation

The new animated film "Trolls" is about a land of tiny creatures with huge hair who live in a technicolor forest in perfect harmony.

Except for one troll named Branch, voiced by Justin Timberlake. 

Trolls trailer

Poppy, voiced by Anna Kendrick, is an uber-energetic, cowbell-toting princess - who tries to save the rest of her friends from dour, troll-eating creatures known as Bergen. 

The film is directed by Mike Mitchell - who also helmed the Shrek films. He spoke with Take Two's host Alex Cohen about the music, "fuzzy immersion" and why Poppy is unlike any other princess.

Creating the world

"What I got really excited by is, I saw the opportunity to create a whole world. Like there was no mythology, there's no story to these guys. All you got are these little stubby, smiley guys with a lot of hair. Just inheriting that, that leaves a lot open to interpretation and so, that's what got me going about it."

Poppy's best friends Fuzzbert, Guy Diamond (voiced by Kunal Nayyar), Smidge (voiced by Walt Dohrn), Mr. Dinkles, Biggie (voiced by James Corden), Cooper (voiced by Ron Funches), DJ Suki (voiced by Gwen Stefani) and The Fashion Twins, Satin & Chenille (voiced by Aino Jaiwo and Caroline Hjelt of Icona Pop) in DreamWorks Animation's TROLLS.
Poppy's best friends Fuzzbert, Guy Diamond (voiced by Kunal Nayyar), Smidge (voiced by Walt Dohrn), Mr. Dinkles, Biggie (voiced by James Corden), Cooper (voiced by Ron Funches), DJ Suki (voiced by Gwen Stefani) and The Fashion Twins, Satin & Chenille (voiced by Aino Jaiwo and Caroline Hjelt of Icona Pop) in DreamWorks Animation's TROLLS. Courtesy DreamWorks Animation

There could've been many different takes on Trolls, but due to the nature of the characters, filmmakers were drawn to creating a story exploring happiness.

"We really got into this concept of happiness. How do you get it? How do you lose it? I started watching a whole bunch of TED talks about happiness and really diving into happiness and what we discovered is, everyone is born with this innate feeling of happiness inside you. Everyone is. No matter what. And it's not always easy to tap into that happiness, and so that's where we started. And then it just became natural, one because these characters seem very happy, with their big puff of hair and their smiley faces but also because it seems like these days with the media and all the politics that are going it is like...I'm craving to see some nice, happy, bright, entertainment and that's what we set out to do."

"Fuzzy immersion"

"Trolls" has a signature technicolor look about it, something the filmmakers referred to as "fuzzy immersion".

"Our Trolls, instead of skin, they're like gummy bears that have been flocked in velvet and our trees are all covered in felt and the leaves are made of felt and the ground is carpet..."

Smidge, the teeny tiny Troll with a shockingly deep baritone voice (voiced by co-director Walt Dohrn) sings along with Troll princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) in DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS.
Smidge, the teeny tiny Troll with a shockingly deep baritone voice (voiced by co-director Walt Dohrn) sings along with Troll princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) in DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS. Courtesy: DreamWorks Animation

"We really wanted this to have a handmade feel and not feel computer-y and it's something that our production designer, Kendall Cronkhite, who is a genius, just took it further than we even thought it as imaginable."

Developing Poppy

"Very proud of Poppy. We wanted to break the princess mold, the stereotype of the princess out there. She's got big teeth and we also kept her stubby body. And I really loved that she doesn't have to wear uncomfortable shoes...those uncomfortable princess shoes, enough of that. And we just really kept her body shape round and it's great because I think hopefully girls will aspire to use their brains like Poppy does..."

Relentlessly upbeat—if slightly naïve—troll Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) sets off to rescue her friends, the Snack Pack, in DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS.
Relentlessly upbeat—if slightly naïve—troll Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) sets off to rescue her friends, the Snack Pack, in DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS. Courtesy: DreamWorks Animation

Poppy isn't just about being a princess because it's a nice title, she's a natural leader.

"She is a fantastic leader and it's great that she spends time doing that and not obsessing in the mirror, who's got time for that?"

The music

"What I try to do, when I worked on the Shrek films, you're doing a joke that a father laughs at and he looks down at his daughter and she's laughing at the same joke, that's magic. We wanted to do the same thing with music..."

Mitchell went on to explain he modeled this idea of connecting parents and kids through music, after Guitar Hero.

"A lot of parents love this game because they're like 'Wow, my kid is now getting hip to all these songs that are so important to me, that I grew up on,' ...I'm hopeful that Trolls is going to be the same thing."

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.

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