‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ stars, director visit Hero Complex Film Fest

May 31, 2014 | 9:48 p.m.
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Dean DeBlois, America Ferrera and Jay Baruchel, the writer- director and stars of "How to Train Your Dragon 2," at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

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Dean DeBlois and Jay Baruchel discuss the making of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

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America Ferrera talked about what she predicts for the third installment of the "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

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Jay Baruchel cracked up the audience while discussing his identification with the character Hiccup at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

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Dean DeBlois, Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera discuss the making of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

After a preview screening of “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ that kicked off Day 2 of the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Jay Baruchel waxed effusive about how much the role of Hiccup, the young Viking who bucks tradition, has meant to him.

“You can spend your whole life acting and never get to do something this cool,” said Baruchel, who was joined on stage by joined by costar America Ferrera and Dean DeBlois, who wrote and directed the anticipated follow-up to 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon.”

The new film is due to arrive in theaters June 13.

Describing the role as his favorite that he’s ever played, Baruchel said Hiccup’s journey and growth through his teen years in the new movie raised a universal question: “How do you reconcile who you want to be with your parents’ expectations?”

“How to Train Your Dragon” was a critical and commercial smash, making about $500 million at the box office worldwide and receiving Oscar nominations for animated feature and original score.

The sequel, written and directed solely by DeBlois, is set five years after the events of the first film and sees Hiccup taking on a wider set of challenges. The original cast members reprise their roles, with “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington, Cate Blanchett and Djimon Hounsou added to the mix.

DeBlois said he wrote the part of Hiccup’s mother with Blanchett in mind. He explained that he knew she could strike the right balance of “rich and commanding,” mixed with a sense of “regret and vulnerability” that the part called for.

Baruchel spoke about how most of his work on the film was done without his costars and thus, much of his interaction with his onscreen mother was really with “Dean pretending to be Cate Blanchett.”

The filmmakers also discussed striking a balance between incorporating new, somber themes into the story while maintaining the spirit that drew audiences to the first film. DeBlois said he didn’t want to shy away from adding a new layer of seriousness.

“I find it dangerous to second-guess the audience,” he said. “I make the movie I want to see. As a kid, I loved films that had a darker side and were emotionally challenging…. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was a big influence. It offered a heightened sense of emotion. It really served as a tonal model.”

Check back in the coming days to watch video of the discussions with the festival’s special guests.

– Justin Sullivan | @LATHeroComplex

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