EXCLUSIVE: Skylar Astin Gets Animated About Netflix’s ‘Trolls: The Beat Goes On’

Adam Salandra
TV Animated Series
TV Animated Series Netflix

The 2016 animated film Trolls had a happy ending, with peace being restored to Troll Village after an attack from the giant Bergens.  But luckily for fans, there’s still a lot more story to tell. The adventures of Poppy, Branch, and the rest of the colorful characters will now be told in the new Netflix cartoon Trolls: The Beat Goes On!

FANDOM talked to the new voice of Branch, Pitch Perfect‘s Skylar Astin, as well as executive producer Matt Beans in order to find out what to expect from the animated series.

What Will Be Different

One of the biggest changes heading into the TV show will be the transition of new actors voicing the established characters, including Skylar Astin taking over the role of Branch from Justin Timberlake.

Skylar Astin

The Pitch Perfect star said it wasn’t intimidating stepping into Timberlake’s shoes, however, thanks to Beans encouraging him to make the role his own.

“When I came in and auditioned, they gave me an audio sample of Justin so I tried to match it and [Beans] said, ‘Throw that out in the trash. We called only a couple people in. I want to hear your take on it,'” Astin said. “So from then on, it’s always been my take and it’s always been the take of the series as opposed to the movie. It’s not a challenge, it’s almost like an opportunity.”

And clearly, Astin has fully seized that opportunity. Beans says that not only does the actor have “the voice of an angel,” but he’s able to balance Branch’s pessimistic side with his newfound attempt to embrace troll culture.

“That’s a pretty fine line to walk and you need somebody who can bring the acting chops of ‘He’s still the guy from the feature but he’s evolved as well,'” Beans explained. “Skylar brings that, as well as comedy timing to boot.”

The producer says another change from the film is the opportunity to spend more time with the supporting cast, including the “Snack Pack” characters.

Trolls snack pack characters

“We spend a lot of time on the show getting to know those characters and do some episodes that just focus primarily on them,” he said. “We have the freedom with this much content to focus on a Smidge story, a Guy Diamond story, a Cooper story. That’s gonna be something that the fans of Trolls get from our show that they’re not getting from the movie as much.”

The Moments They’re Most Excited for Fans to See

Beans says he can’t wait for viewers to see the return of Cloud Guy (Walt Dohrn), promising that the character gets two episodes in the first season that are entirely dedicated to the fan favorite.

“The second one kind of shows that Cloud Guy and Branch have an ongoing dynamic that fans are just going to love,” he promises.

Trolls Cloud Guy and Branch

For Astin, it’s a song called “Forgive Me” from an episode titled “Creek Week” that has him most excited.

Creek writes his own apology song so that Branch can apologize for something,” Astin said. “It’s kind of a brutal ballad…it is pretty spectacular how they animated a full-on music video.”

Music will be just as important in the series as it was in the film, with all new original songs in each episode. You can pre-order the soundtrack from Season 1 here.

Themes of Love and Inclusivity

The Trolls film focused on bridging the trolls’ world with that of their enemies, the Bergens, which will continue to be explored in the series. And those themes of inclusivity couldn’t come at a better time.

“Given the way things are culturally in America and across the world now, it’s no wonder that all the writers, myself included, have in our gut this feeling that we need a little bit more harmony and understanding each other,” Beans said. “I think the pilot is very much about how you can’t assume that your neighbor sees things the same way that you do.”

trolls branch and poppy

In addition to inclusivity, Astin says the series focuses on the importance of being authentic and original, “a real troll motto.”

“It’s so great to be a part of something that can make you laugh but can maybe even disguise itself with a beautiful message,” he said. “The show will sneak up on you every once in awhile. You’ll all of the sudden get choked up when you’re watching with your kids. That’s what makes it such a joy to create and such a joy to put out in the world. Especially today.”

trolls

A sequel to Trolls is slated for a 2020 release, and Beans says the series’ writers keep the feature team in mind as they create storylines.

“We want the franchise to feel like it’s one unified whole and so far we’ve managed to pull it off,” he said.

Find out what new adventures are in store when DreamWorks Animation Televison’s Trolls: The Beat Goes On! releases all six episodes of the first season to Netflix on Friday, January 19. 

Adam Salandra
Adam Salandra is an Entertainment Editor for FANDOM. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog pup or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.
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