Guillermo del Toro's Trollhunters has been a splendid series that gives younger viewers a true taste of spine-tingling supernatural horror with a narrative that serves older audiences as well. It's been a hit for both Netflix and Dreamworks Animation and with the final season of Trollhunters been available to view since Memorial Day weekend, it's time to dive in deep with its creative team.
We pick up the second half of our conversation with executive producer Marc Guggenheim to talk about the big moments of Season 3. Having already discussed Emile Hirsch and Lena Headey's contributions to Season 3, we now talk about Jim's monumental physical and emotional change, coming clean with his parents, and what comes next in the Tales of Arcadia trilogy.
**Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Season 3 will be discussed in the following discussion.**
In Season 3, there's less "Creep-Slaying" and more reminding the audience who Jim, Claire, and Toby are: teenage kids, with parents and stakes that matter. Was that a conscious decision?
Marc Guggenheim: I loved the parents find out what they're doing and I love the fact that the parents become supportive of it. One of the big decisions we had in Season 1 was when Barbara (Jim's mother) learned about Jim and the Troll Market and wipes her memory. I was very resistant to the memory wipe. As a general rule, I don't love that device. What made it palatable for me was that we always knew that ultimately, Barbara would reclaim her memory and rediscover the truth about Jim being a Trollhunter. For me that made the end of the series more poignant and powerful. If you look at those final episodes and imagine Barbara not being in the loop, they would lose a lot of their power.
That's a big step in being a parent, isn't it? To let go and believe in what your child could be, to let them choose their own paths and figure out who they want to be?
Yeah, it's hard to do. I dread it personally. I love the fact Jim and Barbara have this close relationship and rely on each other. When the parents put on the fake theater troop to keep Detective Scott from learning the secret is one of my favorite moments in the whole series.
While we've discussed that Trollhunters is about more than just Jim, he undergoes a major transformation in Season 3 when he chooses to permanently alter his form. What were the decisions behind that bold leap?
It started from a place of knowing Jim would have to make some major sacrifice in order to win the day. We knew we were ending with the Eternal Night and Jim ultimately defeating Gunmar but you want your hero to earn that, or be willing to sacrifice something for the greater good. There were a lot of conversations about what could that be.
We knew we weren't going to kill Jim. But the idea that the Trollhunter would be part Troll had a lot of resonance for us; it seemed to make a lot of sense. We recognized how risky that would be. There's a really bad version of that, but we didn't want to do that. We also wanted to come up with a design for him in Troll form that would make sense. It would look cool but made it still seem like Jim. For my money, after you get over your initial shock of Jim as a Troll, my hope for what audiences will experience, and what I personally experienced, is that you kind of accept Jim in his new form.
When Morgana takes control of Claire's body, it feels like Lena Headey is actually in the room (see clip above). What were some of the tricks you did to pull this off?
To sell the idea of possession in animation was a tough one. It was really tricky. One of the things that does help is that when we record audio, we also record video. That way the animators can pick up on mannerisms and facial expressions that actors are bringing to the part. That helped a lot. To sell possession, Claire's whole body language, facial expressions have to change. Claire's not in the building anymore but I think they pulled it off.
Merlin is introduced and we imagine to be this great wizard but winds up being a big pain in the ass. What went into his design?
I loved writing Merlin. He's so much fun because he takes the piss out of everything. The secret to writing Merlin is, excuse me for saying this, but just write an a**hole. He's just an a**hole. One of my favorite parts this season is when he tells Jim that he's his father and then says he's just kidding. He's borderline dickish. That to me is a lot of fun to write. It's one thing to write these lines, but David Bradley put such a wonderful spin on Merlin and embraced what we were trying to do. Merlin is the ultimate, cantankerous old man.
Season 3 ends on a very emotional moment and we're left with the quest for a new Heart Stone needed for the Troll Market. What are you setting up in this cliffhanger?
Fundamentally, Trollhunters is about growing up. Part of growing up is that at some point, you have to leave home. So that was the ending that we had in mind, the story of maturity that we were telling. We weren't really setting up anything with Jim leaving, but there were a lot moments in the final season of Trollhunters (hopefully subtle) for characters, that get set up or revisited by Wizards, which is the third part of the Tales of Arcadia trilogy (scheduled for 2019). You'll find out in Wizards what happens, if they were successful finding the Heart Stone. Hopefully it will still be surprising and unexpected.
Tatiana Maslany and Diego Luna joined the voice cast as foreign exchange students, Aja and Krel, who make a memorable appearance in Season 3. They are really big components of the next part in the trilogy, the aliens-based 3 Below (scheduled for later in 2018). What can you tell us about what that series is going to be like?
It's really different. It has the same heart as Trollhunters, and wish fulfillment, but it's a little wackier. The humor is more pronounced, and the way I describe it is that Trollhunters was telling a very classic Campbellian hero's story, whereas 3 Below tells a very reverent fish out of water story. It was always Guillermo's vision that 3 Below would be infused with more humor. Not in a scatological way, but in a zanier way.
There's some crazy stuff in 3 Below that I'm excited for. If you're going to do a spinoff, don't make it identical to the series you're spinning off from. Even though it takes place in the same world, and there's some overlap with characters, but it's got to feel like its own show. If you enjoyed Trollhunters, you're going to enjoy 3 Below, just in a slightly different way.
Trollhunters Season 3 is available exclusively through Netflix.