“Dragon: The Nine Realms” debuts on
Hulu and Peacock on December 23, 2021.
Hiccup and Toothless’ story may be done, but the “How to Train Your Dragon” series is far from over. Exec Producer and showrunner John Tellegen expands upon it by returning to that same world but set 1,300 years after the events of the preceding original films and its spinoffs. Now, legacy fans and new fans follow a group of adventurous teenagers who accidentally discover a new generation of dragons that live beneath the surface of the Earth. There, they work together to keep their newfound secret safe from their parents.
ThatsItLA spoke with Tellegen and D’ANgel Baker (who voices Marcus Scribner) about the upcoming series set to premiere later this December.
ThatsITLA: The How to Train Your Dragon film franchise and its spinoffs focused on themes of family and friendship, and Dragons: The Nine Realms follows that same thematic path. I wondered what it does differently to set itself apart from its predecessors?
John Tellegen: Well, the one thing I would say, Mike, is that it’s a little bit different. The previous show was heavily focused on Hiccup and Toothless, which was great. Our show is a bit more of an ensemble in terms where we have Tom and Thunder, who are our main, you know, our version of Hiccup and Toothless in this iteration. But the ensemble in our show, I believe, has deeper stories than in the other iterations. So they have their own arcs and their own destinies that they’re finding. So that’s, that’s one of the differences between the older iterations and our in our show.
D’Angelo Baker: I was gonna say also, one of the things I love with us moving things forward 1300 years, like John was saying, like, there’s gonna be a lot of rediscovery as well. So like things that you may be familiar with, but our characters have no idea what they are, and taking a completely different spin on them and getting different things from that discovery. So it creates a lot of different dynamics from the original material.
ThatsItLA; Can you talk a bit about the collaboration between the two of you regarding how the character would be portrayed?
Tellegen: Yeah, I mean, I’ll just say that, you know, when you start a show, and you’re casting, and then you start recording the early episodes, you know, the actors are getting to know the characters, and the producers and writers are getting to know the actor is and what, what their strengths are. And it’s sort of an interesting, you know, bond where you come together. And I think that the actors start to bend a little bit towards the material, and the material starts to bend a little bit towards the actors, and you end up finding this, this nice place where everybody feels comfortable, and everyone understands the characters. And so for me, that’s the process of just feeling out, you know, learning the character through the actors that come in.
Baker: Yeah, there’s definitely a little bit of a learning curve there, where you step into a new character and just getting to feel out the vibes. Luckily for me, when I stepped into D’Angelo, I kind of felt a kinship to him immediately, and really kind of had a place that I wanted to go with it. And then John stepped in and was like, but this is my vision for what it is. And I was like, ‘Oh, I see that that makes a lot of sense.’ And like you said, it’s about meeting in the middle. And it’s definitely what I love about the show is it definitely is a collaborative effort. Because the source material is so amazing. And what John and the writer’s team put together is always so freakin dope. So getting to step in and just add my own little flavor to that and ask them questions like what if I tried to like this or what if we get another take doing it this way? And just trying new things each time is always important. So it’s definitely a collaborative effort about compromise. Like any great relationship.
ThatsItLA: Considering how much adventure there is in “The Nine Realms,” I was wondering if you have or want to do anything like your characters when it comes to cave diving or going on helicopters?
Tellegen: Oh, well, I mean, I have, you know, adventures. I’ve been around a while. So I have adventured through rain forests, you know, Belize and these types of things. And let me just say it’s, it’s safer to write about them than it is to actually do them, which I’ve learned along the way.
ThatsItLA: So what do you hope audiences walk away from when they watch “Dragon: The Nine Realms?”
Tellegen: I mean, personally, you know, after, I hope the audience will laugh and cry and cheer for our heroes. And at the end of the day, I want everyone to come together as a family over the holiday break and enjoy the show and feel like it was a wonderful experience to watch all of the work that you know. We have a crew of over 300 people working all over the world, putting their talents into the show, and we’re just so excited to showcase all of this talent, and I want to you know, I hope all the families come around the TV to watch and enjoy it.
“Dragon: The Nine Realms” debuts on Hulu and Peacock on December 23, 2021.