Troll order: Justin Timberlake voices animated Branch
Writing a hit song and voicing an animated character — Justin Timberlake’s having a ball
Singer-songwriter, actor, record producer and now, voice artist. Justin Timberlake speaks about voicing Branch, the paranoid Troll, in director Mike Mitchell’s (2016) 3D animated musical, Trolls.
How would you look as a troll? How would you picture yourself?
You know what someone said to me? She was from Germany, and she said, ‘You you look like a character in the movie!’ And I was like, ‘Oh, just like him?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, just like him!’ So, I said, ‘They put the camera in our face when we do the voice, so they make the mouth move like that.’ But she also meant the ears and everything! I was like, “Damn!” I got a kick out of that!
You’re also the executive music producer. Could you pick out one song you really liked?
Maybe this sounds a little obvious, but Can’t Stop the Feeling was really a lot of fun to work on, but it was the first time I’d ever written a song that had a specific list of objectives to accomplish. ‘Cause it is in the movie, we have two different versions. One that I did for pop radio, and one that has the whole cast singing. It was a lot of fun to do, but different, because I’ve never written like this before.
What did you do to make your dream work?
There’s a famous quote from Vince Lombardi, the American football coach, and I believe it is, “Luck is where preparation meets timing.” I think that means you have to have luck to have the moment, but you have to work hard, and be prepared to know that you’re about to have that moment. And I think all the hard work will pay off.
Your first impressions of Branch?
When they first showed what Branch looked like to me, it was in comparison to Poppy, and she’s like pink and so vivid, and Branch is like even the colour is dismal. I thought it is going to be so much fun to play a sarcastic and pessimistic role, as I don’t do that a lot.
What did you like in the production?
The thing that tripped me out was how much texture there is in the animation. I remember them saying, ‘We’ve found some new code to give new texture to the animation’. And then you see the actual hair on the trolls, and it looks unbelievable!
How was it to be making music for this film?
Even though all the characters were different, for me, it was kind of a cheat code, as they were informing each other, and I got to see so much of everyone’s character — to create music for certain scenes, so I could really play up on that and be inclusive of all of the little idiosyncratic things that each actor’s character has.
What more can you tell us about Branch?
To explain Branch, you kinda have to tell the whole world that the trolls live in, which is a very happy-go-lucky singing, dancing, joyous, ecstatic type of world and branches a little more of the outcast, and he doesn’t sing or dance. He, funnily enough, warns Poppy that if they continue to keep singing and dancing, they’re going to attract the Bergens, the life-size villains, who happen to eat the trolls, as it makes them happy.
Who is Branch close to?
I think Branch is closest to Poppy. But mostly because Poppy is persistent and trying to cheer him up. Their relationship is fun to watch. There is a lot of humour between the two of them because they are
so opposite. And even though Poppy is constantly overjoyed, she has her share of ribbing Branch too, so there is a little flirtation I think that goes on between the two of them.
Trolls premieres on Star Movies & Star Movies HD at 1 pm & 9 pm on November 26.