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'How to Train Your Dragon': America Ferrera and Vikings land in Times Square

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Early Tuesday morning, just as the sun was just beginning to peek out from behind those pesky spring clouds, something terrifying could be seen smack dab in the middle of Times Square. No, it wasn’t a group of tourists, the Naked Cowboy, or humans dressed as oversized animals, but instead… a Viking ship?! That’s right, it was a Viking ship, hailing from the dark foreign lands of Greenland.

DreamWorks’ newest animated creation How to Train Your Dragon hits theaters this Friday (read the EW review here). To celebrate the occasion, and conduct a wacky cross-promotional venture with Wal-Mart, Vikings filled the streets in the midst of the morning commute. PopWatch deployed me to the scene to save the city from such behemoths and play along with questions like, “Where is your long skirt?” and “Men don’t carry swords! How do they eat?” from a man named Olaf. But also to chat with America Ferrera, who provides the voice of Astrid, the butt-kicking female dragon slayer of the film.

“This is probably one of the most unusual events I’ve attended,” she giggled, looking around suspiciously. “Dealing with a Viking ship in Times Square?…Yeah.” You and me both, America, you and me both. Once we both embraced the situation (taking cues from the Vikings on how to carry a sword and properly pronounce our growls), it was easy to have fun. Ferrera talked about her role in the film and her love for animation…

On her character Astrid:

“[She’s] sort of the rough-and-tumble, tomboy, butt-kicking Viking, and she’s top of her class, fated to be the best dragon slayer of her generation,” she said. “And then Hiccup, the main character [played by Jay Baruchel], the most unlikely character to be good at anything [laughs] starts getting better than her and it makes her very upset and they form an unlikely partnership.”

On being one of the boys:

“That was really fun and helpful, because most of the time it was just me and a microphone,” she said of her recording sessions with Baruchel and Jonah Hill. The two funny men helped her get more comfortable and more into character. “It’s hard at first to get used to just you and a microphone and not really having anyone else to play off of, but ultimately it becomes very freeing,” she said.

On seeing her character come to life:

“My voice for my character is just one small part of her. The animators made all of these characters whole, real, and relatable, and I can’t say enough about the amount of work that goes into it and what it feels like to be just a small part of this tremendous piece of work at the end of the day,” Ferrera said. “I love animated films, and I loved this movie, like absolutely got lost in the story and the characters…. If they wanted to go for another round of dragons, I’d be very happy.”

Are you excited to see How to Train Your Dragon, PopWatchers?