Craig Ferguson owes Guillermo del Toro a very nice dinner.
The late-night host and the voice of How to Train Your Dragon‘s Gobber has never worked with the Pacific Rim director — though they’ve met on The Late Late Show — but he owes him his life. Or, more correctly, Gobber’s life. Click below for the story, if you don’t mind major Dragon 2 SPOILERS.
In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Vikings and dragons are living in harmony five years after Hiccup proved that the flying beasts weren’t the dangerous threat that his father, Stoick, believed. But as Hiccup and Toothless explore and map far-off lands, they encounter a shadowy villain, Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who’s building a giant dragon army to help him dominate the world. Using dragon mind-control, he turns Toothless against Hiccup and just as the hypnotized dragon is about to barbecue his best friend with a deadly shot of flame, Stoick rushes in, pushes his son out of the way, and is killed when the blast hits him instead.
But that wasn’t how writer/director Dean DeBlois initially envisioned it. An early draft had Gobber, Hiccup’s Viking mentor, taking the proverbial bullet for Hiccup. But when DeBlois shared that plot outline with del Toro, a colleague and friend who’d greatly admired the first Dragon film, the Mexican filmmaker put his finger on that specific plot point. “When I pitched it to Guillermo, he said, ‘You know, it should be Stoick,’ because that’s the real handing off of the mantle,” says DeBlois. “Stoick has sort of exhausted his narrative contribution, and so long as he exists, he’s going to be a crutch to Hiccup becoming chief. I wanted it to be someone that was close to Hiccup, but I hadn’t considered killing off Gerard Butler. But it was the right decision for the story.”
Del Toro’s contribution and friendship earned him a thank-you in the post-film credits. Butler can take solace in his character dying a noble death and receiving a Viking funeral, but Ferguson will enjoy the practical advantages of at least one more Dragon paycheck.