As Rise of the Guardians makes its debut on DVD and Blu-Ray, the author of the series of books on which it is based phoned Movie Fanatic to take us inside the world that is familiar to many, and yet not one that has ever been truly expanded.
The story of the Guardians of Childhood series began when his daughter asked about if the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus were friends. He answered yes and said that he started creating bedtime stories with all of the childhood heroes included such as the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, the Man in the Moon, the Bogeyman and the Sandman.
“This was the lore that began to develop in our household and I soon came to realize that I needed to do something with it,” Joyce said. “I began to draw pictures of these characters and figure out a basic mythology for each one of them based on what I could find out about them.”
He felt the freedom to develop backstories for these characters, given that there was not much out in the world on them in terms of characterization.
“Superman and Batman have mythologies,” Joyce said. “Yet, the one group of characters we ask our kids to believe in as fact had none. I looked around and said, ‘Am I the only guy that realizes this?’”
Joyce is no stranger to crafting fantastical stories. He is the author of George Shrinks, Dinosaur Bob and now has 13 stories in the Guardians of Childhood canon. He also is familiar with the world of film, having won an Oscar for his work on the animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
The writer is pleased with the world he has created and was beyond thrilled with the film -- as was Movie Fanatic in our Rise of the Guardians review.
“[It’s] cool, grand, magnificent and heroic. They have giant empires that oversee what they do, whether it’s traveling the world in one night to deliver presents and Easter eggs or flying around 365 nights a year retrieving baby teeth,” Joyce added.
If it sounds as if a film based on the books was a given, you would not be far off. Studios all clamored for the project, but Joyce settled on the animated magicians of DreamWorks Animation. Filmmakers and Joyce agreed that since he is still penning the series, the film should be a somewhat separate entity. “That’s why the movie picks up about 300 years after the resolution of the book series,” Joyce said of the world teased in this Rise of the Guardians trailer. And he had great trust in the film’s screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire.
“David is very astute and has a keen, subtle intelligence. One of the things that was difficult about the story is it’s so big. We have all these major characters and mythologies and we have to tie them together into one narrative. The hardest thing on any film is to get the story clean, clear, concise and entertaining -- to find the emotional core of it, the thing that makes you care,” Joyce said.
“David had an instinct about how to simplify that story and keep the characters centered while at the same time juggling all of them and all the situations. It’s got this epic feel to it but each story within the epic is very intimate and feels very real.”
Then, as the cast began to fall into place, Joyce’s joy with the project went well past bliss. Alec Baldwin was cast as North, aka Santa Claus. “No one could capture North’s personality as brilliantly as Alec does,” Joyce said.
North is the head of the Guardians and Baldwin was an impeccable choice to capture that leadership. Although North may lead, the heart and soul of the story is Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine. “It’s a shame they don’t award Oscars for voice work,” Joyce admitted.
“There’s a subtlety that he brings to the character that is heaven-sent.”