Netflix has received high praise for their original series offerings, but while viewers have been focusing attention on live-action fare, the streaming service’s original animated shows have been killing it. Their latest animated installment, however, will grab you by the eyeballs thanks to vivid, colorful designs of magical characters set in a richly detailed environment pulled from the vast and varied imagination of Guillermo del Toro. Meet: Trollhunters!
Marc Guggenheim, of The CW superhero series Arrow fame, also happens to be an executive producer on Trollhunters. I had the pleasure of talking to Guggenheim about the upcoming Netflix series, how he got involved with it, what his particular contributions were, and how the series is essentially “del Toro gone wild” when it comes to imaginative storytelling. Guggenheim also reflected on the performance of the late actor Anton Yelchin, who voiced the series’ protagonist. As a bonus for fans of The CW’s animated series Vixen and the new, upcoming show Freedom Fighters: The Ray, Guggenheim also teased some exciting news.
But first thing’s first: How did Guggenheim get involved with Netflix’s Trollhunters series?
Originally, Trollhunters started out as a movie and I was asked to come in and help with the script. After I had turned in my first draft, Netflix got interested. I was asked to pitch them, basically, what we were doing. Netflix liked it so much that they decided to order it as a series. Suddenly, we went from having a feature to having a series on Netflix, which was wonderful.
It turns out that the decision to turn Trollhunters from feature to series was a boon for the project, which had one major complication when it was envisioned as a standalone film:
A lot of the discussions centered around the challenge of, how do you cram all of the character development and mythology into an hour-and-a-half long feature film?
In many ways it was a surprising blessing that Netflix expressed interest in doing this as a series because suddenly the biggest problem we had facing the film, which was limited real estate, became not a problem at all. I always sort of feel like a lot of times these projects, they show you what they want to be. Trollhunters always wanted to be a series.
Having a wealth of rich mythology and lore to draw from is a good problem to have, but it was still an issue during the filmmaking process. However, the series gave the creators a chance to mine the vast imagination of del Toro and let him run free:
It was “del Toro gone wild.” I had met with Guillermo [del Toro] a whole bunch of times as we were working on the script for the feature; this was, by the way, five years ago. It was about a year of working on the feature with Guillermo and a lot of conversations about … truth be told, the vast majority of the conversations were about the challenge of taking this incredible rich and detailed world, and deep mythology that Guillermo had developed and established in the young adult novel that was the prior iteration of Trollhunters.
I think actually what was wonderful about having this feature film background in addition to working on the script, there was also over a year’s worth of visual development being done on the feature side. So the look of what became the show, all the characters, Troll Market, Arcadia, all of that had been visualized back when it was a feature. One of the things that’s truly wonderful about the series is that we never lost our feature roots, and we never made compromises to “cram it into a television show.” In fact, I think even the look of the show to me is more reminiscent of the look of a feature than it is the look of a TV show. I think, in the best possible way, probably not for our producer Chad Hammes, basically this show just became a very, very long, big movie.