Trollhunters is a new Netflix series from fantasy master Guillermo del Toro. It tells the tale of Jim Lake Jr., a young man who is chosen to become the protector of a community of trolls that live underneath the sleepy town of Arcadia. The show happens to have Marc Guggenheim on board as an executive producer and that’s quite a great get! Guggenheim is one of the founding members of the Arrowverse and has been a lifelong fan of these kinds of stories. We got a chance to talk to Marc about his career and this exciting new family show.
Drew Dietsch: What attracted you to Trollhunters in the first place?
Marc Guggenheim: It was three things. First of all, it was the opportunity to work with Guillermo del Toro. When an opportunity like that comes along, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to pass it up. The second was when I started on this project five years ago, my daughters were four and six and I was working on the first season of Arrow which is very not appropriate for four and six-year-olds. I was really enamored with the idea of working on something my kids could watch. Finally, when I came on the project, there had been about a year’s worth of development on the visual side. They had worked up a lot of character designs and the look of Troll Market; you just had an incredible amount of truly stunning artwork. Seeing that, it was like, “Forget about it. I have to do this project.”
You’ve had a lot of success with projects that deal with fantastic situations and characters. What is it about these genres that you think makes people so passionate and invested in them?
That’s a great question! It’s funny, I wish I knew because for the longest time I’ve just been really invested in them. That’s why I’ve gravitated towards these genre projects is that I’ve been a fan of genre my whole life, and fundamentally I think I choose projects that either are based on comic books that I was already a fan of or are concepts that, if I wasn’t working on, I would still be a fan of.
I think nowadays there is a huge appetite for escapism. The world right now is not the happiest place, and truth be told, I don’t think it’s been the same since 9/11. The world has just become a really dark place. There was 9/11 and then we all got hit with the Great Recession in 2008 and so many people haven’t recovered. Life is kind of depressing. So it’s important for entertainment to be a bit of an escape and genre has always been really good at providing that escape.
Absolutely. You’ve worked in film, television, and all sorts of mediums. What are the advantages and challenges of telling this kind of a story in episodic form as opposed to doing it as a single feature?
Because we started [Trollhunters] out as a single feature, I can really speak to that. The project is based upon this young adult novel that Guillermo co-wrote and one of the biggest challenges we had working on the feature was cramming this incredibly deep mythology and interesting world into ninety minutes. When the show changed from feature film to series, it was like this breath of fresh air entered the project and we suddenly had room to maneuver. The best thing that ever happened to us was becoming a series because there are so many different characters and concepts. There’s a history to the trolls that you’ll come to learn over the course of the series. There’s A LOT going on and it’s very nice to have the breathing to be able to get down all those details.
Would you say you have a favorite character in the show?
Good question. I can definitely say the two characters I enjoy writing the most are Toby and Blinky. Favorite character? It really depends on the episode. There are some episodes where you just love Jim so much. There are other episodes where it looks like Toby’s going to steal the show. There are other episodes where Arg is just the best thing in it. Again, one of the great things about a series, especially one like Trollhunters, is we’re designing it to be a little different from your average family fare. It’s more serialized, there’s more character development, we’ve got episodes where we play with structure and use narrative devices that you don’t typically see in a children’s show. It allows you to put a magnifying lens or a spotlight on different characters; you’re not always focused on the protagonist.
If you had a troll name, what would it be?
[laughs] Seems appropriate!