Trolls Band Together opens in cinemas 27 October 2023

Trolls Band Together opens in cinemas 27 October 2023


This holiday season, get ready for an action-packed, all-star, rainbow-colored family reunion like no other as Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return for the new chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s blockbuster musical franchise: Trolls Band Together.

After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple (#broppy)! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (Golden Globe nominated electropop sensation Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André; Sing 2), Spruce (Grammy winner Daveed Diggs; Hamilton) and Clay (Grammy winner Kid Cudi; Don’t Look Up). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since.

But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet (Emmy winner AMY SCHUMER; Trainwreck) and Veneer (Grammy winner and Tony nominee ANDREW RANNELLS; The Book of Mormon)—Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.


Featuring Trolls’ signature psychedelic joy-bomb of new and classic pop hits, Trolls Band Together stars a dazzling cast of musical superstars and comedic powerhouses as new franchise characters, including four-time Grammy nominee and Latin Grammy winner CAMILA CABELLO (Cinderella) as Viva, ZOSIA MAMET (The Flight Attendant) as Crimp and 12-time Emmy winning drag icon RUPAUL CHARLES as Miss Maxine.


The returning cast includes Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee ZOOEY DESCHANEL as Bridget; CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE as Gristle, Emmy winning Saturday Night Live legend KENAN THOMPSON as Tiny Diamond, the Icona Pop duo AINO JAWO and CAROLINE HJELT as Satin and Chenille, Grammy winner ANDERSON .PAAK as Prince D, comedian RON FUNCHES as Cooper and SAG nominee KUNAL NAYYAR as Guy Diamond.


Trolls Band Together is steered by returning director WALT DOHRN and producer GINA SHAY, p.g.a and is co-directed by TIM HEITZ (head of story, Trolls World Tour). The co-producer is JOHN SWANSON (associate producer, The Boss Baby 2: Family Business) and the screenplay is by ELIZABETH TIPPET (Trolls World Tour). The executive producers are DANNIE FESTA (Trolls World Tour) and JONATHAN AIBEL & GLENN BERGER (writers, Kung Fu Panda, Trolls).


The executive music producers are JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE & MIKE ELIZONDO. Song production is by JOSEPH SHIRLEY and the original score is by THEODORE SHAPIRO. The editor is NICK FLECTCHER, ace. The head of story is COLIN JACK; the production designer is RUBEN PEREZ REYNOSO and the visual effects supervisor is MARC J. SCOTT. The head of character animation is BENJAMIN WILLIS and the head of cinematography, layout is THEOPHILE BONDOUX.


Based on Good Luck Trolls by THOMAS DAM, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls films—2016’s Trolls and 2020’s Trolls World Tour—have sung and danced their way to record-breaking success, with Can’t Stop the Feeling!, winning a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media and an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Song and fueling one of the largest and most beloved entertainment brands in the world.

(from left) John Dory (Eric Andre), Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) in Trolls Band Together, directed by Walt Dohrn.



          What began as a smash musical sensation with 2016’s Trolls has exploded into a global blockbuster franchise and brand for DreamWorks Animation that includes two original TV series, digital content, video games, live-entertainment touring shows and Universal Studios parks’ attractions across the globe, as well as high-fashion collaborations, toys and lifestyle collections. And it’s not hard to understand why. “This world and these adored characters embrace an open-hearted humor that champions community, inclusion, kindness, and so, so much glitter,” DreamWorks Animation President MARGIE COHN says. “The Trolls universe has become the jukebox party you don’t want to miss.”


Trolls World Tour arrived into the world in the early days of pandemic lockdown, in the spring of 2020, and provided fans with a sense of joy and connection during a time of anxiety and separation. The film, which propelled Trolls Poppy and Branch into the wider world, opening their eyes (and ears) to a new universe of musical styles and the rich diversity of Trolls culture, expanded the sense of possibility for the characters, the audience, and the filmmakers and actors. “We had a lot of good will from Trolls World Tour,” says returning director Walt Dohrn. “It was the first streaming movie released in the pandemic, at a time when people needed something to help them escape, feel good, have fun. All our current cast and crew had the awareness of what that movie meant, and they were honored to be a part of this one.”


And Trolls Band Together promises to be the heartwarming, hilarious, happy-cry event of this holiday season. “Audiences will have a laugh-riot—one that we hope will have them cry-dancing out of the theater,” says producer Gina Shay, who has produced every film in the franchise. “You have to experience the stunning visuals and the immersive music in a full theatrical experience. It will be the celebration you need…and a reminder to be more open to all the quirks, love and beautiful contrast you will experience with your family.”


Trolls Band Together finds Poppy and Branch on a journey deeper into their own lives and histories, and explores the importance of family, reconciliation, understanding and healing. That Poppy and Branch are now a romantic couple creates fresh comedic, dramatic and, of course, musical possibilities. “Poppy and Branch have been on a few epic, life-altering adventures together, so in this story we acknowledge the bond that has grown,” Shay says. “It’s refreshing from a story and banter perspective to have a new relationship dynamic to explore, especially as they navigate an unexpected and complicated family scenario.”


Kendrick and Timberlake bring additional nuances to Poppy and Branch with this chapter. “Justin and Anna are incredibly strong actors, comedians and singers,” Shay says. “What a joy it was to evolve their characters internally. It was a delight to witness Justin embracing his boy-band roots, as well as to bring the self-deprecating comedy that only someone who really experienced that life could offer. Branch also grapples with an abandonment issue, which gave Justin the opportunity to further dimensional-ize Branch. Then, Anna blew us away with her wit, bringing this hilarious new fan-girl aspect to Poppy’s personality. She creates a vehicle for connective wish-fulfillment with the audience.”


In the process of adding dimension and depth to Poppy and Branch’s relationship, the filmmakers drew on the lives and personalities of their stars. “We ask ourselves what’s authentic to the characters,” Dohrn says. “At the same time, Anna is more Branch in real life, and Justin is more Poppy. It is so fun that the characters start to gain more of each personality from Anna’s and Justin’s own lives. We’re seeing these characters grow, while retaining the core of who they are.”


For the filmmakers, the narrative and themes of the film had a surprisingly profound impact on their own lives. “This has been an emotional movie for me,” Dohrn says. “This film made us confront issues with ourselves in our own families. We talked about the importance of reconnecting with family. I’ve looked at my own challenges in a way that I haven’t before, and that’s changed me. I’ve come out from the other side with this. My awareness, my attitude toward life is better.”


Co-director Tim Heitz, who served as Head of Story on World Tour and directed the 2021 NBC special Trolls Holiday in Harmony, believes this story will resonate with audiences, regardless of age or culture. “Anyone can relate to the family dynamics we explore—whether it’s the members that you get along with perfectly, or ones who maybe take a little more effort to connect with,” Heitz says. “We are looking for that universal, relatable human experience underneath the weird wacky dolls with psychedelic hair.” The emotional appeal of this film, of all Trolls films, comes down to a core idea that endures regardless of each film’s singular adventure. “We’re really only preaching ‘Be nice,’” Dohrn says. “The world would be a better place if every person were.”

Trolls Band Together, directed by Walt Dohrn.


EDITORIAL NOTE: All actor interviews were conducted

prior to the SAG-AFTRA labor strike.


Trolls Band Together, directed by Walt Dohrn.



Anna Kendrick

Poppy, played by Anna Kendrick, and Branch (Justin Timberlake) have now established themselves as a couple, and they’re in that complicated phase of opening up to one another—which feels both good and scary to both of them. Poppy is joyfully planning the wedding of her BFF Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), and as Poppy and Branch’s relationship evolves, they begin to discover things about each other, and themselves, that they had never known before. Chief among those discoveries is that Branch was once a member of Poppy’s favorite boy band, BroZone, with his brothers, and that he hasn’t had contact with his family since the band broke up.That revelation, and the kidnapping of one of Branch’s brothers by some nefarious pop villains, will lead Poppy and Branch on a journey toward rescue and reconciliation, adding new layers and depth to their relationship. “There’s something relatable about that moment when you find out a new element of your partner’s story,” says co-director Tim Heitz. “Poppy wants to dig in and help Branch explore a resolution to what he’s struggling with. Branch is angry. What Poppy says is, ‘I hear you. I’m with you. We’re going to deal with this.’ That felt like such a refreshing take.”As their journey continues, though, Poppy discovers that Branch isn’t the only one of them carrying a family secret. Unbeknownst to her, Poppy learns that she has a sister, Viva (Camila Cabello), that she never knew existed. In classic Poppy form, she is ecstatic about this discovery. “Poppy loves other Trolls, and so the idea of having a long-lost sister is super exciting to her,” Kendrick says. “Poppy finds most things exciting, but this is next-level amazing. In the way that Poppy does, she thinks there are going to be zero complications, and everything’s going to be great because she and Viva are sisters. ‘How would there ever be any conflicts or problems to have to solve?’ It’s interesting to see her try to navigate those more emotionally complicated waters.” For Kendrick, returning to the Trolls universe is a joy, not least because, unlike in most animated film productions where all the actors record their parts alone in a recording booth, the Trolls cast occasionally records together. “It is always exciting to see everybody because we all feel that this is the best job we’ve ever had,” Kendrick says. “No joke, this is my favorite job, and I know I’m not alone in that. Whenever we get the gang back together, you can just feel how much fun everybody has doing it.”


Branch/Bitty B

Justin Timberlake

When Branch, played by Justin Timberlake, was a baby, he performed as “Bitty B” with his four older brothers in their hit boy band, BroZone. As Bitty B, Branch loved singing and dancing, and he imagined that they would perform together forever. Even after his brothers decided to go their separate ways and leave him in the care of Grandma, young Branch dreamed they would eventually reunite and live together as a family. It was ultimately this abandonment that turned Branch into the emotionally closed off adult we came to know in the first Trolls. “We dig into Branch’s character a bit more with this film,” director Walt Dohrn says. “Poppy is the central protagonist in the series, but this was an opportunity to learn more about Branch. It’s important for us, along with our audience, to see these characters grow.” There would be no Branch without Timberlake, and it was critical to the filmmakers that he was involved with the backstory from the beginning. “We wanted to make sure that Justin was comfortable with the idea that Branch has a history in a boy band,” Dohrn says. “He ran with it. We found this balance of celebrating boy bands and making fun of them. There is something extraordinarily special about family harmony.” For the film’s boy-band sound, co-director Tim Heitz says, “We pulled from all eras, but we leaned modern. Justin saw it, jumped in and pushed that boy-band idea—even poking fun at old tropes.” That music only enriches the joy and the emotion in this film. “The Trolls universe is so vast, and there’s a sonic language to this movie,” Dohrn says. “Under the fun, glitter and craziness, is the human experience, and there’s no limit to the emotions and psychology of the human experience.”


Tiny Diamond—Kenan Thomspon

Guy Diamond—Kunal Nayyar

Audiences first met scene-stealer Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson) in Trolls World Tour, when he was birthed out of the spectacular hair of his dad Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar). In Trolls Band Together, the Diamond duo offer some of the series’ most delightfully bizarre comic relief moments. Guy has allowed Tiny to chaperone Poppy and Branch on their adventure, but Tiny’s most important job is serving as official “flower boy” of Bridget’s upcoming wedding to King Gristle. For Thompson, returning to the role of Tiny and the Trolls world was pure bliss. “One of my favorite things is the nuance to the Trolls films,” Thompson says. “The animation is so precise that you can see the fibers on the Trolls’ puppet skin. I always thought that was super cool. Any time that there is fiber, you can experience it so visually. There’s so much eye and ear candy. It’s like a giant singing gummy worm on the screen.” Music, and how the filmmakers deploy it, is the franchise’s secret sauce. “Whether it is a cover or an original song, each song has as much depth as anything I could hear on the radio,” Thompson says. “You hear every instrument. And listening to Justin and Anna? They have the voices of angels.”


Bridget—Zooey Deschanel

King Gristle—Christopher Mintz-Plasse

In the first Trolls movie, King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the Bergens were the villains, determined to eat the Trolls. Now, the two tribes are not only friends, but they’re about to be united as Gristle marries Poppy’s best pal, Bridget (Zooey Deschanel).

 “King Gristle finally gets to marry the love of his life,” Mintz-Plasse says. “So, this is a very good pay off for him. He also gets to be a bit more comic relief. In the first movie, his storyline was central to the plot, and in this one he gets to pop in and have fun.” Mintz-Plasse was more than happy to return to the role. “He is one of my favorite characters I have played,” Mintz-Plasse says. “Gristle wears his heart on his sleeve, which I love doing. He’s overly confident and can go as big or little as he wants. He also loves his future wife more than anything.” For her part, Deschanel relished returning to play the formerly shy Bridget who, when she marries, will officially become Her Royal Highness, Queen Bridget of Bergen Town In this film, Bridget has fully embraced her role as adorable Bridezilla, and she becomes instrumental in Poppy’s new relationship with Viva, Poppy’s long-lost sister. “There’s a lot going with Bridget in this film,” Deschanel says. “Bridget is not only getting married, but she’s making peace between sisters, so that makes me very excited. It feels amazing to bring Trolls back to audiences. I am thrilled whenever I get to come in and record this character. I just love working on these movies, so I’m so happy to play one of my favorites.”

Trolls Band Together, directed by Walt Dohrn.




Camila Cabello

Voiced by musical superstar Camila Cabello, herself a former member of the girl group Fifth Harmony, Viva is the Queen of the Putt-Putt Trolls, and she and her tribe have lived fortressed for years inside an abandoned Bergen mini-golf course, a “utopia” where none of the dangers from the outside world can harm them. Viva has grown up to be confident, uber-positive, effervescent, excitable and a beloved leader whose life mission is to keep her Trolls safe. After Poppy meets Viva, and they discover that they are long-lost sisters, it becomes clear to Poppy that years of isolation have kept Viva from embracing the changing outside world. In the end, Viva must overcome her fears and venture far outside of her comfort zone to support her fellow Trolls. The character was inspired by producer Gina Shay’s own life experience. “Viva is very personal to me,” Shay says. “I have long-lost siblings. I met one of them about 15 years ago, and it was an absolute shock how similar we are as people—drive, looks, gestures. It turned my life upside-down.” For the film, Justin Timberlake produced a duet between Cabello and Anna Kendrick as Poppy, performing a new original song, “It Takes Two.” The whole experience, Cabello says, was a dream. “Viva is the kind of person who will knock on your door at 3 a.m. after a night out,” Cabello says. “You’ve already fallen asleep, and she’s there to persuade you to get back out and find some more adventures. She has that life force inside her. She is silly, has a lot of energy and just wants to have a good time. She’s quirky and can be loud—like me when I’m feeling really happy!”


John Dory

Eric André

The eldest of Branch’s brothers, John Dory was the self-appointed leader of the group back in the brothers’ band days. Since the band split up, John Dory has been off the grid—living life on the road in his van, Rhonda. In a lot of ways, John Dory is similar to Branch at the beginning of the first Trolls movie—he’s a survivalist who has been living in isolation, wary of emotional connection. He’s an expert on living off the land but isn’t great with reading social cues. John Dory is almost more Branchy than Branch—his personality answers the question, “What would Branch have been like if he had never met Poppy?” While the characters in Trolls Band Together are designed to be fun and silly, many of their origins and design come from a surprisingly personal space. “John Dory was based a bit on my brother,” director Walt Dohrn says. “He’s a real driving force; he’s activating the whole narrative and is present all throughout the movie. We needed someone with a presence that was bigger-than-life. That was my brother. To me, he was 10 feet tall. He walked into a room and filled up the space.” They would find their ideal eldest brother of Branch in performer Eric André. “I love Eric’s work,” Dohrn says. “There was a danger to my brother that we wanted in John Dory. Anything could come from Eric; there’s a level of danger and surprise to him.” André also brought an essential level of emotional connection to the role. “Eric can play these loveably obnoxious characters that push people away, but you feel such a deep connection to him,” co-director Tim Heitz adds. “He covers every spectrum of emotion.” John Dory is that one member of every extended family that everyone wants to be around at family get-togethers. “John Dory’s imposed perfectionism, his wild optimism, his kinetic movement—he is deliciously dangerous, like your most irresponsible and fun sibling or cousin,” producer Gina Shay says. “Eric is perfect in this role—especially with his improv in our sessions. He never failed to light up and take over the day…in the best way possible.” André was fascinated by the character. “John Dory might not be the alpha, but he thinks he is; he’s the fearless big brother of Bro-Zone—the Leonardo of the Ninja Turtles,” André says. “He can be a little cocky, a bit headstrong and arrogant. Still, he means well, and his heart’s in the right place.” When John Dory realizes that one of his brothers is in peril, he jumps into action. “We have to put aside our differences and get Bro-Zone back together and save Floyd and hit the perfect family harmony,” André says. “Then, we realize that’s a false goal and what we needed was each other.”


Velvet—Amy Schumer

Veneer—Andrew Rannells

Velvet and Veneer are the world’s most famous pop duo—a pair of utterly fabulous twins who value nothing more than their fame. Portrayed by comedy superstars Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells, Velvet and Veneer are adored by their legions of fans in the gleaming and vapid creature metropolis of Mount Rageous, but beneath their shiny exterior, these two have a dark secret: they have no real talent and have been huffing Troll aura—acquired by trapping Branch’s brother Floyd in a perfume bottle and sucking out his life force—to skyrocket to fame. One spray of Troll essence and Velvet and Veneer magically have the power to sing and dance. Velvet (Schumer) is the more domineering sibling. While Veneer (Rannells) has some reservations about keeping a Troll prisoner and stealing its talent, Velvet will do anything to stay on top, constantly overruling Veneer’s moral compass. “Their goal is to be famous without having to lift a finger,” producer Gina Shay says. “They are so over the top; they like to shop for matching yachts and own a pet monkey. Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells bring this dark sense of humor to these characters. I have been wanting to work with both of them for years, and finally we had characters worthy of their talents.” The design of villainous twins proved to be a challenging, but exciting, process. “We landed on this version where they are a new species of characters,” co-director Tim Heitz says. “We didn’t want them to feel like humans. Anything can exist in the Trolls universe. We’re not restrained to a couple of species. Our character designer, CRAIG KELLMAN, came in with ’30s and ‘40s design and added a modern, edgy twist. He homed in on this visual identity of who they were.” At the core of Velvet and Veneer was a dissection of celebrity culture and the world’s obsession with the idea of fame. “We were exploring the ’90s, an era we hadn’t before,” director Walt Dohrn says. “We loved the idea of cute, charming villains. Gina and I were in love with Andrew, from Girls to Book of Mormon. Andrew brought the character to life in ways we had no idea were happening. We needed someone as good as Andrew to compete. I was obsessed with Amy and her voiceover skit on her TV show when she mocks the animation industry requesting her to voice an ugly character. She was also a fan of Trolls World Tour and brings such tone to the movie.” Rannells loved playing up the wickedness that Velvet and Veneer experience on their journey to become the ultimate pop duo. “For the classic reasons—money, fame, and popularity—they love being famous and having fans,” Rannells says. “I think Veneer, particularly, loves buying stuff. He has a shopping issue. In order to keep his shopping habit up, they have to be successful popstars. Otherwise, how else would you do that? You can’t get a job!”



Troye Sivan

Floyd, played by electropop sensation Troye Sivan in his first ever animated role, was always Branch’s favorite brother. The “sensitive” one in the band, Floyd was the emotional singer-songwriter of the group who had dreams of going solo. After splitting off from the brothers, Floyd was captured by aspiring pop-stars Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells). Velvet and Veneer keep Floyd trapped in a diamond perfume bottle, which they use to mist themselves with his “essence,” stealing Floyd’s talent for themselves and fueling their rise to super-stardom. When we meet Floyd, things aren’t looking good. The more talent that Velvet and Veneer drain, the weaker he gets. Despite his dire circumstances, Floyd’s quick wit and irresistible charm make him a formidable match for our villains. Floyd’s sincerity and charm always brought the brothers together during their band days, and he is once again the cause for their reunion when Branch and the rest of the brothers team up to save him. “Troye plays this incredibly sweet and compassionate character,” producer Gina Shay says. “He is closest in age to Branch, and Floyd and Branch had the strongest relationship as kids. Floyd also delivers some of the biggest laughs in the movie and gives everyone a reason to root for him. His capture by the villains is the impetus that kicks in the brothers reuniting and going on the rescue mission. Troye also has a gorgeous singing voice and style.” In the film and in the performances, it was important to convey the special bond between the two brothers. “When you see them in the flashbacks, and you cut to the present day, there’s an obvious reason for Branch to go on the journey to rescue Floyd,” co-director Tim Heitz says. “Troye gives such texture to Floyd’s voice. We felt an innate warmth and kindness from him.”  Sivan sees Floyd as the glue that holds all of the brothers together. “I think if they were real people, he would be the one that everyone goes to for advice,” Sivan says. “He has a strong head on his shoulders; he is super reliable and solid.” The character design of Floyd posed a special creative challenge, says head of character animation Benjamin Willis, who has worked on all three Trolls films. “Whereas the other brothers are out and about and you see a lot of their personalities, we had to figure out how Floyd would look and move within the bottle and how we could create that strong bond between him and Branch,” Willis says. “So, we used his hair. Floyd has a piece of hair that comes over his face. It very much mimics an emo style, but it’s also something that we could use as a prop for him. We could use the front bit of his hair to have him hide if he was guarded, or we could have him pull it out of the way when he felt more confident and self-assured.”


Bruce (aka Spruce)

Daveed Diggs

Bruce, formerly known as Spruce, is Branch’s second eldest brother. In the band days, Spruce, voiced by Daveed Diggs, was the “heartthrob” of the group, but he always longed to settle down. After the brothers split up, Spruce found himself on Vacay Island, a tropical paradise outside of Bergen Town inhabited by dog-sized creatures who spend their days chillin’, grillin’, and takin’ it easy to the sweet sounds of vacation music. On Vacay Island, Spruce changed his name to Bruce, opened a beachside cantina, and even started a family of his own. A very large family of 13 kids. “He also runs a busy restaurant with his towering wife, Brandi,” producer Gina Shay says. “Surfing is definitely Bruce’s secret to staying Zen.”  Although Bruce seems fully assimilated to the vacation lifestyle, he’s tightly wound under all the yoga, meditation and chill vibes. Bruce is reluctant to leave the life he built on Vacay Island, but he joins Poppy and Branch on their daring adventure in an effort to rescue his brother Floyd. The filmmakers loved the idea of this former superstar who just wanted to settle down with a wife and kids and have an easygoing life. “Spruce has left all that behind but still has that charisma and charm,” co-director Tim Heitz says. “When casting, we kept coming back to Daveed Diggs. From Hamilton to his voice work in Central Park, he has such a range. There’s such warmth and confidence.” For Diggs, the recordings for Trolls Band Together was wild fun. “I fell more and more in love with this character every time I recorded him,” Diggs says. “The music is so, so good. There’s this sweet spot of both forward thinking and nostalgia happening with the music in this film, so that meant I got to sing a bunch of songs and work on music that I would never get to do otherwise.”Director Walt Dohrn says Diggs was key to fleshing out who Spruce was. “We knew that Daveed could help us create this character,” Dohrn says. “He became Spruce. When we shared the character design with him, he took that character and made his voice fuller. You feel the weight from the design. Plus, he’s an amazing singer.”



Kid Cudi

Clay, voiced by Kid Cudi is the middle brother in Branch’s family. Tired of always being cast as the “fun boy” of the band, Clay eventually set off on his own path because he wanted to be taken seriously. After the family split up, Clay found a home with the Golf Trolls, a tribe of survivors that he co-leads with Viva. Together, they turned an abandoned Bergen mini-golf course into a Troll utopia. As Clay puts it, Viva added her heart and soul, and he added fire exits. He’s a licensed CPA and the member of a “Sad Book Club,” but Clay can’t help being a “fun boy” deep inside. As the creative team put together the story, they were struggling with how to enable the character of Clay to stand out. Once Kid Cudi signed on, that was no longer a concern. “Kid Cudi is extremely playful as Clay,” producer Gina Shay says. “Clay has embraced his inner accountant, and the contrast with his ‘fun boy’ past is hysterical. Clay longs to be taken seriously and feels like he needs to demonstrate his surprising dimensionality to his brothers. But he can’t help but be funny. It’s great the way Cudi improvises on the mic and helped inform the development of this unique Troll.” Fortunately for the production, Kid Cudi is a huge fan of animation—so much so that he considered working professionally in this world when he was younger. “The first day we recorded Kid Cudi, we found out that he had been working on the voice for Clay for six months,” director Walt Dohrn says. “He came in with this fully realized character. We just had to stay out of his way; he became so in love with the character and the process.” Cudi relished the recording sessions and had a blast being a part of the production. “Everybody had so much excitement about me doing my voice and having fun with it,” Cudi says. “That is the collaborative energy that I love. This was so different from anything else I’ve done. Even altering my voice and the music involved in it made it so so much more different and challenging. I had to make sure that I didn’t lose my voice and hit the right pitch—to get it right all the way through. It’s been nice to be silly and have fun with the process.”



Zosia Mamet

Crimp, portrayed by Zosia Mamet, is a tiny ball of paper scraps with a big job, working for the two most famous pop stars in the world, twins Velvet and Veneer. She loves them; she fears them, and she can never seem to get their coffee order right. Crimp is hardworking, eager to please, and over-qualified for her job. She’s the face of positivity but isn’t afraid to let off steam when Velvet and Veneer leave the room. (It’s not easy working for nefarious megalomaniacs, after all.) But she’s blind to the twins’ evil campaign to suck the Troll essence out of Floyd to maintain their own wealth and fame. “Crimp is so naïve and sweet that she doesn’t fully realize what Velvet and Veneer are doing,” says head of locations CASSANDRA FANNING. “She finds the good in people and thinks everything is so innocent. It isn’t until later that Crimp will realize what’s actually going on.”




For the design of Trolls Band Together, the filmmakers wanted to distinguish this entry with its own style, with visual nods to the previous two chapters. “With each installment, we need to take the audience on a journey they have never seen or even imagined,” producer Gina Shay says. “We start in Bergen Town with Bridget and King Gristle’s wedding, which honors Trolls. Then we stretch out the canvas as we gather Branch’s long-lost brothers. Scale always plays into the visual sensibility of Trolls, so we go to new lands inhabited by new creatures much larger than the Trolls. Everything except for Bergen Town is new.” And what a new world it is. The Trolls series has long offered epic journeys through unexpected new lands, and this film is no exception. Trolls Band Together shares new worlds complete with entirely new species. “There is Vacay Island, where the sun never sets and the characters look like water-balloon puppets wrapped in terry cloth,” Shay says. “Then we have a glitzy, fantastic, fabulous world called Mount Rageous, inhabited only by giant teenage lollipop-type characters.” The goal, at every level, was to make the film feel vibrant, energized and new. “After two movies you wouldn’t believe how fresh this chapter feels, from Ruben Perez Reynoso’s production design to the animation team lead by Benjamin Willis,” Shay says. And the filmmaking team can’t wait for audiences to experience it. The Mount Rageous segment alone includes cinematography by Theophile Bondoux that features an epic, high-speed chase unlike any in DreamWorks Animation’s history, and the club scenes highlight cutting-edge choreography from Trolls franchise veterans MARTY KUDELKA & AJ HARPOLD. “The challenge of creating the musical action-set pieces was so exciting,” director Walt Dohrn says. “I’m thrilled for audiences to experience these incredible, elaborate sequences.” Allergic to the idea of rehashing old ideas or familiar tropes, Shay, Dohrn and co-director Tim Heitz creatively pushed one another throughout the production. “We were careful to avoid ‘Trolls Greatest Hits,’” Dohrn says. “We never want to repeat ourselves. That makes it fun for the audience, good for the world and good for the characters that stay through each film. It’s fun for the crew to find, build, design and work with these characters. It always starts with the story first; that’s our narrative.” With precious time to deliver an intricate narrative, the filmmakers constantly asked one another how to make the most of each minute. “It comes down to finding the right characters to pop at each moment,” Heitz says. “We’re all constantly looking for new jokes and character moments along the way, and then the animators take these performances by the cast to another level visually. That makes every single character memorable and impressionable, even if we are not spending a ton of time with each one of them.”



Music is central to every film in the Trolls franchise and Trolls Band Together is no exception. “This movie takes the sensibility of the first Trolls as a full pop-music extravaganza and turns it way up,” producer Gina Shay says. “The music enhances and supports the storyline, and we have five brilliant original songs and many more covers and medleys.” While World Tour explored and highlighted myriad musical genres, Band Together emphasizes, appropriately, bands … together. “The music identity of this film is pop music, and more specifically, ‘family band,’” Shay says. “This film celebrates family bands (e.g., Bee Gees and The Jackson 5) and boy-band music through the decades. Justin Timberlake and the music team wanted to honor pop through the decades. As the film progresses, we hear all the eras of family band music of the ’70s through the early 2000s. Justin does a brilliant job of weaving in and out of these classic covers and original songs to invigorate and immerse the audience in this experience.” To ensure that the film stayed in-sync (so to speak) with Branch’s boy-band past, the filmmakers focused specifically on pop-centric sounds of the ’90s. “Branch and his brothers were in a pop-family band,” director Walt Dohrn says. “It was our mission to do a lot of pop this time. We brought in a number of collaborators to make sure that each sound fits into the narrative. We asked ourselves daily, ‘What’s going on in the story, and how does that weave into a pop song? Which characters are singing and with what attitude?’” The exciting challenge was commissioning original new songs that fit seamlessly into the musical landscape they were designing. “It’s hard to write original songs that stand up against classics we all love,” Dohrn says. “I feel the songs in this movie stand up to those.” Timberlake has always been involved in the music of the Trolls movies and he was even more involved for this chapter. “Justin was essential in the last movie—working with all the different collaborators like George Clinton and Ludwig Göransson,” Dohrn says. “For Trolls Band Together, Justin had ideas with classic, familiar songs. We had even more collaboration with him on this film, and I’m excited to put the songs out into the world.” Case in point: Not only did Trolls Band Together offer Branch the chance to reunite with BroZone, but also the film offered Timberlake the opportunity to reconnect with his fellow band mates from *NSYNC. The beloved supergroup reunited for Trolls Band Together to record the track “Better Place,” the group’s first new song in more than 20 years! Additionally, returning Emmy winning franchise composer Theodore Shapiro brings cohesion to the film’s original score. “Teddy is magic with the way he treats the balance of comedy and emotion,” Shay says. “He foreshadows the songs with interpolation and weaves them into character themes.”  

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