The film's head of character animation, Simon Otto and writer-director Dean DeBlois share their secrets for turning Hiccup into a dashing — yet still lovably dorky — young man

By Jeff Labrecque
June 13, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

In How to Train Your Dragon 2, the once lanky Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is now 20 years old and no longer the runt of the litter. ”He’s been Neville Longbottomed,” jokes the film’s head of character animation, Simon Otto. He and writer-director Dean DeBlois share their secrets for turning Hiccup into a dashing — yet still lovably dorky — young man.

Height Naturally, Hiccup sprouted, and he now stands at 6’1”, nearly a foot taller than he did at age 15. But he’s nowhere near as big as his imposing father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), who’s over seven feet tall.

Freckles When the first teaser for the sequel arrived, fans complained that Hiccup’s freckles had disappeared. They were quickly reinstated. ”Aesthetically, we liked it a little better without all of the freckles, but the fans really wanted them,” says DeBlois.

Neck His neck almost doubled in girth from the previous film, when his pinhead practically wobbled. ”I think thickening the neck also adds a little more naturalism,” says Otto.

Cool New Duds Our hero first appears in the sequel in his badass warrior-chic flight getup. DeBlois compares it to meeting Luke Skywalker again in The Empire Strikes Back: ”There’s like a wish-fulfillment quality to seeing a character you relate to geared up with really cool stuff.”

Ears His ears were lowered slightly, a subtle tweak that gives him a more masculine look.

Dagger The dagger sheathed on his left arm looks tough, but it’s really just for whittling pencils so he can draw new maps of the lands he and his dragon bud, Toothless, discover on their adventures.

Hair He still has the same bell-shaped head of hair, but his flight helmet messes it up a bit. He also has two Viking braids on his right side that his main squeeze, Astrid (America Ferrera), has woven: ”He doesn’t like it very much, but he tolerates it because she’s his girlfriend,” Otto says.

Face An early draft of the older Hiccup based on Jake Gyllenhaal was discarded because it made him too handsome, too heroic. ”We wanted to keep him gangly and awkward, and preserve all of the charm of a guy who uses wit as his primary strength,” says DeBlois.

Dragon Blade The Skywalker comparisons grow stronger when Hiccup ignites his new retractable flaming sword, which he has armed with potent smoke that can stun and tame dragons.

Eyes and Nose The spatial relationship between Hiccup’s eyes and nose is crucial to the character and remains largely the same. But in keeping with his slightly larger head, his eyes and nose are approximately 15 percent smaller than before.

Jaw Animators struggled with just how chiseled Hiccup’s jaw should be. Ultimately they settled on halving the gradient from the corner of his jaw to the tip of his chin, from about 30 percent to 15 percent.

Leg Hiccup has upgraded the metal stump his mentor, Gobber (Craig Ferguson), gave him into the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. ”He’s got the retractable feet that fit every occasion: a riding leg, which connects to Toothless’ harness; a walking foot; and kind of a pickax foot, which is for slippery surfaces,” says DeBlois.

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 102 minutes
  • Dean Deblois
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