Meet the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians, a movie inspired by the books of William Joyce, unites legendary characters

Nov 20, 2012 | By Kelli Plasket
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Meet the Guardians: Sandman, Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy. Each has powers to protect kids' dreams and imaginations. In DreamWorks Animation's 3-D movie Rise of the Guardians (Rated PG), out November 21, these legendary characters unite to protect children from Pitch the Bogeyman (voiced by Jude Law).

Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fischer) admires the shiny teeth of Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine)
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fisher) admires the shiny teeth of Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine).

Alec Baldwin voices Santa Claus, nicknamed “North,” who is the Guardians’ fierce leader. Baldwin says he was drawn to the movie because of its creative qualities. “I think the artwork in this film is very beautiful, and I think the tone of [the script] is just spot on,” Baldwin told reporters at a New York press conference for the movie. “It’s an excellent children’s film.” Actress Isla Fisher, who voices half-human, half-hummingbird Tooth Fairy, agreed. “It just felt different from anything that I’ve seen in the animated world,” she said.

Writing Heroically Silly Stories

The backstories of the Guardians are based on characters from books by author and illustrator William Joyce, who was an executive producer of Rise of the Guardians. Several years ago, Joyce came up with the idea for the Guardians series when his six-year-old daughter Mary Katherine asked him if Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were friends. Joyce decided they were—and that he would explore their backstories. Recently, TFK spoke with Joyce about the project and about writing his “heroically silly” stories.

TFK:

The movie introduces us to a new Guardian, Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine). What inspired his youthful personality?

JOYCE:

We wanted him to be like the Guardian that comes into the club, basically. He starts out not a Guardian but becomes one in the course of the story. He’s sort of mischievous, a little bit of a rascal—but a good-hearted one. He just wants to know who he is and why he’s here. Jack had been [a teenager for hundreds of years], so he’s not gangly and clumsy. He’s extremely comfortable in his physicality and balance, so he can walk around telephone wires like he does in the movie without really any problem at all.

TFK:

Did you work with character designer Patrick Hanneburger and the film team to adapt the rest of the characters from your books?

JOYCE:

In a lot of ways, DreamWorks and I were partners in this project. I was working on the books at the same time we were making the movies, and the novels are all about origins of [the Guardians]. I didn’t want the movie to be the same as the books. I wanted the books to set up what would happen in the movie. Everything in the books happens [about] 250 years before the movie and just explains how they got to be who they are. The movie is about who they are, but now they are facing their old threat, Pitch the Bogeyman [voiced by Jude Law], which is also set up in the novels.

Executive Producer William Joyce also wrote the books that give the backstories for the Guardians in Rise of the Guardians.
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
Rise of the Guardians Executive Producer William Joyce also wrote the books that give the backstories for the Guardians.

TFK:

Are you happy with how the final film fits in to your Guardians universe?

JOYCE:

Yep, it’s amazing, I was working on it pretty much every day, so I was giving input all the time on the movie. It’s an extension of the Guardians universe and plays out beautifully.

TFK:

If you could be any guardian yourself, who would you want to be?

JOYCE:

I think I’d like to be Jack. He has room to grow. He’s young, and I’m 50. I’d like to be young again. [Laughs] And I think he has more fun than any of the other ones do.

TFK:

He has underestimated powers, as well.

JOYCE:

Exactly. He isn’t even aware of how powerful he is.

TFK:

North talks to Jack Frost about finding your “center.” What is your center?

JOYCE:

I think it might be a heroic pursuit of fun and silliness and telling good stories.

TFK:

What’s one word you would use to describe each of your Guardians?

JOYCE:

For Tooth Fairy, it would be busy. For North, it would be stupendous. For Sandman, it would be snooze-tastic. For Jack, it would be fun. For Easter Bunny [voiced by Hugh Jackman]—he’s really heroic but every now and then he’s kind of scared, so I’ll make up a phony Latin word—hero scardius.

TFK:

You wrote your first book in fourth grade. What advice do you have for kids who are getting started as storytellers?

JOYCE:

Write about what you love or write about what makes you happy. Write about what you wish could happen.

TFK:

What do you want kids to take away from Rise of the Guardians?

JOYCE:

I want them to have a really, really great time at the movies and when the movie is over, I want them to keep thinking about it for the rest of their lives. I want them to remember what it was like to be a little kid and think about what it would be like to be a cool adult.

TFK:

What do you enjoy most about writing for kids?

JOYCE:

I don’t ever think of them as stories for kids. I just try to tell stories that move me and make me happy. Often, my stories are about dealing with things that I don’t like in my life or things that I don’t like about the world and how I would make them better, oftentimes in heroically silly ways.

TFK:

What’s next for the Guardians series?

JOYCE:

The Tooth Fairy novel called Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies [came out on October 2], and you’ll find out how she became who she is. Also, there is a [new] picture book called The Sandman.

TFK:

Why should kids go see this movie?

JOYCE:

It’s so big and so exciting and so fantastic and so crazy. The 3-D will make your eyeballs explode, and the story will make you so happy, you won’t even know what to do.