June 2, 2014

Gerard Butler in “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2”

From DreamWorks Animation, “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is even more exciting than the first Oscar-nominated film. The 3D adventure is stunning, with beautiful animation, great characters and a powerful storyline about a boy named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless.

Gerard Butler returns as Hiccup’s dad, Stoick The Vast, mighty Chieftain of the Island of Berk. Hiccup, now a young man, is contentedly flying with Toothless and exploring the frontiers of the Viking world, much to the annoyance of his father. Stoick feels it’s high time his son stepped up to his leadership responsibilities and his heritage. As the plot unfolds, Hiccup has to defend the villagers from the power-crazed Drago (Djimon Hounsou) and his army of dragon trappers. And in a dramatic twist to this exhilarating coming of agestory, there is an emotional family reunion with Valka, Hiccup’s courageous mother (Cate Blanchett),an inspiring dragon protector.

“At first I thought it would be impossible to surpass the first one, which was so magical, but they have surpassed it. There are some fantastic surprises in this film and we get to see the other sides of Stoick. I love the relationship between Stoick and Toothless, it’s hilarious, it’s touching, it’s heartbreaking and really inspiring. I think audiences will relate to that relationship because we’ve all been there. We have all had issues with our parents who have affected us in powerful ways and many people have kids, so they’ll relate in that way too,” Butler muses.

Into the character the second time, Butler says that “Stoick the Vast is still a big, hairy mountain of a man. He’s burly and brawny and he’s loud and obnoxious, but he’s also a great leader and protector. He cares more about his people than he does about himself. He has learned that his way is not necessarily the way it should have been. His rules are, well number one: you live for the people. You’re a warrior. You have to be ready to lay down your life for those greater principles. It’s all about defending custom and principles and tradition. Stoick is bound by those principles in a way that’s stupidly stubborn, but he believes it’s the only way this place [Berk] is going to survive—if everybody toes the line. He tries to pass that on to his son.”

Hailing from Scotland, Butler’s Stoick has special meaning for the actor. “Vikings are in our blood in Scotland. Everything that I’ve been given as an actor comes from my culture, my nation and through my blood. So the role was fantastic for me. There is a warrior mentality in Scotland. Even as I was doing [the 2007 film]300, I would think of the hills in Scotland, I would think of my ancestors and what they’d been through. I used my passion for my country to play Leonidas in 300. I would almost hear his voice echoing through the ages. And it was the same with Stoick. My favorite three places on the planet are Scotland, India and Iceland. Whenever I think of those countries, my stomach starts churning in the best kind of way, just bristling with excitement. Scotland means the most to me, though, because it’s my life. I grew up in that country, wanting to make it as an actor and wanting to go to Hollywood. But it was always through the prism of me as a Scottish kid – a Scottish kid doing well,” enthuses Butler.

It’s not just the superb animation that the actor is excited about, but also the lessons everyone can learn from the movie. “Yes, there’s the theme of tolerance here and is something that I have a very strong opinion about and it is an interesting question. Both movies are about tolerance and the courage that comes with tolerance. The Vikings are learning to trust and they actually realize that dragons are beautiful. That is great because it’s often natural for Mankind to fight instead of trusting. But we can be brave and rise above that. One little kid [Hiccup] comes along and says, ‘Why don’t we just listen and pay attention and really see each other?’ You realize that these dragons have their own integrity and they’re as scared as we are. This new film shows how we can face people who are way less tolerant than us and come from a dark place. I think that is a great lesson for the world we live in right now. If everyone would just pay a little more attention and be a little more tolerant, we would live in a far better place.”

A DreamWorks Animation film, “How To Train Your Dragon 2” opens June 11 in theaters nationwide from 20tn Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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