­­THE TROLL HUNTER - Exclusive André Øvredal Interview

­­THE TROLL HUNTER - Exclusive André Øvredal Interview
Updated: 05-03-2011


Staci Layne Wilson: How long has the film been out in Europe and Scandinavia?
André Øvredal: It’s only been released in Norway so far. It was released on the 29th of October, and it was a huge success. So, I’m very happy about that.
Staci Layne Wilson: I went to a screening with a friend of mine who went to Scandinavia, and she told me that trolls are like our bigfoot. That was her analogy. Are trolls indeed a big part of the ­lore?
André Øvredal: Yeah, but a bit underused, because trolls are basically are in one pairing of books of fairy tales. There are other books, but they’re all children’s stories, and I wanted to make a film that could also appeal to adults. The film seems to appeal to those of 10 years old to 40, or 50 even. So, I’m very happy about that.
Staci Layne Wilson: It kind of reminded me of the Grimms Fairy Tales with the bridge and all of that. Are those tales a big part of your own childhood?
André Øvredal: Yeah. That is also a story in the Norwegian book of fairy tales. It’s kind of a common story for a lot of countries about the troll under the bridge and the three goats. That’s the most classic troll fairy tale. So, I had to include that and make it real in a way.
Staci Layne Wilson: What was the tipping point that made you decide to make this movie?
André Øvredal: Actually the idea itself. When I thought of the idea, I said to myself “This is it! This is the one idea I’m going to make a movie out of.” Because it’s going to be the Hollywood type of film I love, and at the same time, it’s going to be something new and original that is not in a way “Hollywood” – something very Norwegian about it. But I thought of the character first. I wanted to have this character that is a droll everyday guy who has an amazing fantastical job, and he has to fight these creatures.
Staci Layne Wilson: Did you base him on anyone you know?
André Øvredal: Yeah, I based him on my own family basically. I grew up in a family that had normal jobs, and I like the idea of someone in a regular type of job that they are not able to see is quite amazing. I can relate to that myself, because I’ve been directing commercials for 10 years, and it’s actually quite an amazing job to do. You get to travel all over the world and do wonderful stuff and see wonderful places. But sometimes, you’re just preoccupied with just everyday work that you forget what you’re actually experiencing.
Staci Layne Wilson: And doing it through other people’s eyes who have never seen trolls before; that must’ve been really fun to write.
André Øvredal: Absolutely! It was a lot of fun coming up with the whole world and taking from the fairy tales, putting all of that into a real context, trying to pretend that it’s all real. Having a veterinarian explain why trolls turn to stone when they’re hit by sunlight.
Staci Layne Wilson: That was clever. I liked that. Now, I’m wondering too, how did you conceive what the trolls would look like? …Because they look quite realistic, as far as trolls can be [realistic].
André Øvredal: (Laughter) They are based on the drawings in the book of Norwegian fairy tales from this company in 1870. There are about 20 to 30 drawings of trolls, but they’re wearing clothes, and they’re talking to people. They’re communicating much more, and I wanted to get rid of all of that. In order to believe in them myself, I needed to see them as animals with a hint of some twisted humanity. Maybe thousands of years ago there were millions of them, I guess. We were kind of split like a wolf and dog.
Staci Layne Wilson: The missing link?
André Øvredal: Yeah, something like that. There is a human element to them, but definitely without communication, except simple communication like grunts to each other and make noises. They have to be very instinctual about their needs for food…
Staci Layne Wilson: Blood.
André Øvredal: Yeah. (Laughter) And also their irritation with Christian blood. But that’s from the fairy tales. The trolls can smell Christian blood, and I had to make them real. So, I had give them huge noses and they can smell – you know – Christian blood.
Staci Layne Wilson: I see.
André Øvredal: Make this very physical.
Staci Layne Wilson: And this went over really well in your very Christian country?
André Øvredal: Yeah.
Staci Layne Wilson: Was there any religious protest?
André Øvredal: No. I know very Christian people who really think it’s funny and love it.
Staci Layne Wilson: Oh. Okay. How did you conceive some of the more grotesque elements with the musk. It was really gross. Who was your Special FX person that made this stuff?
André Øvredal: The art director’s name is Martin Gund and he actually worked on films like ALIEN and the STAR WARS films. He’s a really fantastic guy. British. He came up with basically what I wanted, like this kind of weapon, this kind of syringe and I wanted this, and I wanted that. But he managed to make this blend of something that the Troll Hunter would make himself, and something slightly unusual.
One thing that was very important to me was that none of things in the film seemed like out of a sci-fi movie. It had to be real, so that everyone could relate to them. For example, we have a scene at the end, he’s using car batteries to power up his lamp.
We were talking that “maybe we should have a battery that came from a submarine”, but I didn’t want that. I wanted the audience to be able to recognize that it is just a simple car battery.
Staci Layne Wilson: What made you decide to go with the found footage conceit, because we’ve seen that here in the States with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, BLAIR WITCH and so on, so forth? Was it because you felt it would bring the audience closer to the characters?
André Øvredal: I’m going to be constantly in your face with everything for sure. Whatever you see is whatever you get. It’s a film that takes place in nature so much that is actually quite useful to get a sense of the ‘horrificness’ of it. It’s useful to limit the audience’s knowledge for suspense. Plus, it amplifies the feeling of the absurdity in everything, saying everything is real. The way the actors behave, and of course the style of the shooting, all going in the direction that everything is real.
Obviously, it cannot be real. Trolls smelling Christian blood. (Laughter) I mean, it really becomes absurd.
Staci Layne Wilson: Now speaking of the trolls. Would you categorize this as a monster movie? It’s kind of a Scandinavian GODZILLA at one point.
André Øvredal: Yeah. I guess I see it as a monster comedy. Some people are surprised that there is humor in it, because maybe the trailer doesn’t show so much of it.
It shows a big explosive film, I guess. But it’s a monster comedy.
Staci Layne Wilson: What are some of the favorite monster movies that you grew up enjoying?
André Øvredal: JURASSIC PARK is the big one, even though I was 20 when it came out. I still love it.
Staci Layne Wilson: It still holds up, doesn’t it?
André Øvredal: Oh yes. It’s amazing. I keep watching again and again. The effects are still better than most stuff coming out today.
Staci Layne Wilson: I know. You’re right. So, you must’ve taken great care to have the effects for your own film. What are some of the things you feel that you really achieved from page to screen, as far as the special effects go? That you’re very proud of?
André Øvredal: Of course, the effects crew were really good at integrating everything, so they really seemed in the scene, and I’m very happy to see them achieve that. I managed to write very individual characters in the script, and my effects crew were able to put it on screen, and make these creatures alive in a way with much more detail than I could ever think of.
When it came to the animation, it was very important to me that the trolls didn’t do that much, because they are just animals, crazy creatures. So, I wanted them to be very animalistic and simple in their movements. So, it looked like they behaved like animals. So, we studied animals a lot, and I think we got that across. And of course the melancholy of the characters, it’s kind of sad with the last scene with the final big troll, even though it’s a giant troll…
Staci Layne Wilson: Yeah, like KING KONG a little bit.
André Øvredal: Yeah, it has a sadness to it.
Staci Layne Wilson: Was there anything that you wanted to do, that your crew said, “Uh… sorry!”
André Øvredal: Actually there’s tons of details. Certain scenes we had to cut. But it works like that with any movie, no matter how big it is, you’re going to end up in a budget crunch at some point.
Staci Layne Wilson: That’s true. So, what is your next project? Will you be visiting the world of trolls again anytime soon?
André Øvredal: Hopefully, we’ll have an American remake.
Staci Layne Wilson: Would you like to be involved in doing that?
André Øvredal: On a personal level, absolutely. The people [who] may end up doing it, I really enjoy working with them. So, I think that is going to be a great collaboration. I’m not sure, if I’d want to make myself, because I’ve done it.
Staci Layne Wilson: Right. There are directors who have done that, like FUNNY GAMES that was done in… um, Germany?
André Øvredal: Uh… it’s Austrian.
Staci Layne Wilson: Right, right. Michael Haneke. And he did the American remake.
André Øvredal: I think that was a specific situation where he wanted to protect the extremity of that film, not water it down.
Staci Layne Wilson: Is there any other kind of horror or monster movie you would like to make someday?
André Øvredal: Yeah, absolutely. I’m working on one project with a Hollywood production company, which I’m hoping we will be shooting in the not-too-distant future.
Staci Layne Wilson: And what do you think of the current state of horror films today? There seems to be a lot. (James Wan’s) INSIDIOUS is out right now and doing well.
André Øvredal: Great. I want to see that. It’s up and down. I mean for every great horror film that comes out, there’s a trail of copycats. So, it’s kind of filtering through that.
Staci Layne Wilson: So, you won’t be directing SAW VIII?
André Øvredal: Definitely not!
Staci Layne Wilson: Okay, I’ll quote you on that.
Latest User Comments: