When Dean DeBlois, the co-director of "How to Train Your Dragon," found himself at the Oscars, where his film was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Score, surrounded by Hollywood's finest, he knew what to do: try to cajole one of them into being a voice in his next movie. That's exactly what happened.
"She was just standing there," the director recalls to USA Today (who debuted the first shot of the new character as well), "and I said, 'I've written a part for you in "How to Train Your Dragon 2."' You have to seize those opportunities when they present themselves. She's such a glamorous starlet but, at the same time, this very grounded, super-cool Australian who drinks out of the can."
Blanchett's character in the new film is Valka, a renegade dragon conversationalist who Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his pet dragon Toothless encounter in a wintery arctic region. (The film takes place five years after the first movie, with Hiccup restless and exploring other parts of the world.) DeBlois likens Cate Blanchett's character to Dian Fossey, whose life (and death) was profiled in "Gorillas in the Mist."
"Somebody living with the animals and learning to communicate with them in non-verbal ways and becoming much like a dragon herself," DeBlois said. "Her years of isolation and dealing with nothing but dragons and being very sympathetic to them has made her very distrusting of humans."
Valka becomes a mentor of sorts to young Hiccup, and the two have to face off against an evil dragon hunter (Djimon Hounsou). Should be exciting stuff, especially with Blanchett voicing Valka (she was originally the voice of Mrs. Fox in "Fantastic Mr. Fox" but was later replaced by Meryl Streep). DeBlois said of the process, "We were able to tap that fiery strength that is present in every word that she utters and put it on the screen."
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is out on June 13th, 2014.
You can also check out School of Dragons on mobile! Visit the iTunes store to download the game for iPad 2, 3, 4, iPad mini or iPad Air.
School of Dragons is an educational 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game designed to bring the ultimate DreamWorks Animation "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise experience. School of Dragons is pioneering seamless online and mobile multiplayer gameplay - it is one of the first in the educational massively multiplayer online role-playing game to achieve this.