The two stars discuss their new animated musical, Gwen Stefani, and the magic of troll hair

By Tim Stack
August 16, 2016 at 02:56 PM EDT
DreamWorks Animation
  • Movie

In this November’s animated musical Trolls, loosely based on the popular line of toys, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick both voice two of the titular creatures. EW sat down with the pair to talk about the movie and being transformed into a pint-size troll doll.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Who wants to summarize the plot?

ANNA KENDRICK: The trolls are the happiest creatures in the world. They have been living in peace and safety for 20 years. They’ve gotten really comfortable with that. Poppy, my character, is the queen of the trolls. She’s been a slightly irresponsible leader in that she has made no safety precautions against [monsters called] the Bergens. And then Justin’s character…

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: They’re the happiest creatures on the planet with the exception of one: me.

KENDRICK: He’s just in a bad mood. He’s got bad hair.

TIMBERLAKE: He’s got digestive problems, probably. You find out later in the movie why [he’s so cranky]. My character is constantly warning them, “If you keep making all this noise and singing and dancing all day, the Bergens are going to find us, and they’re going to eat us.” And as it turns out he was right.

KENDRICK: So I seek out Branch to help me rescue my friends, and he doesn’t want to. So I decide to go on my own, but I leave him surrounded by all the happiest trolls and figure he’s going to choose the death-defying adventure over staying with a bunch of happy trolls.

So I hear they build things with their hair?

KENDRICK: It’s like a monkey’s tail. They can use it for extra stuff. I make it into stairs. At one point there was a scene that wasn’t working, but in order to make it work, I was like, “What if I pull a pen and paper out.” It’s also like Hermione’s bag in Harry Potter where it can hold anything.

TIMBERLAKE: I actually use my hair as a weapon numerous times in the movie. It’s like Indiana Jones’ whip.

DreamWorks Animation


Did you have any input on how your troll looked? Did they try and look like you?

KENDRICK: I hope not, because the troll heads are maybe twice the size of their bodies. So I hope the physical traits are not inspired by me. There are definitely little expressions I clock as my own, which is weird when it’s obviously such a strange looking mythical creature.

TIMBERLAKE: They shoot you while you’re recording, and I was told that the animators actually do use the inflection of your mouth to animate to make it that much more real.

Why did you want to do this movie?

KENDRICK: It was basically the pitch.

TIMBERLAKE: The old [Jeffrey] Katzenberg pitch.

KENDRICK: A lot of the feedback from the footage we showed in Hall H [at San Diego Comic-Con] was like, “Oh wait that looks really good!” I think that’s kind of the reaction we had, where it was like “They’re making a trolls movie? What’s that gonna be? Like really corporate?” Then so much creativity got put into this, and it’s so unique. The animation is like nothing I’ve seen before.

And there’s new music, including Justin’s summer hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

TIMBERLAKE: “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is in it, but there’s also three other originals — one that Gwen Stefani performs and one that Ariana Grande does, and they’re both in the movie. There’s another one that the cast of Trolls sings. Then, in the movie, there’s a cast version of “Can’t Stop The Feeling.”

Can you describe the look of the film?

TIMBERLAKE: I was really taken aback when I first saw it. This looks different, like, how did they figure out more colors? [Laughs.]

KENDRICK: How did they invent more colors? They showed me some of the footage, and I had that feeling you get with some of those formative cinematic experiences you have as a kid, where I was like, “I want it to be real so badly.” That’s how I felt about Trolls. Like where you get the feeling you want to reach out and touch the characters. It feels so tactile.

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  • Movie
  • PG
release date
  • 11/04/16
  • 92 minutes
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