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Mark Hamill on How Kelsey Grammer and Classic Hollywood Inspired His TROLLHUNTERS Character

Mark Hamill on How Kelsey Grammer and Classic Hollywood Inspired His TROLLHUNTERS Character

Mark Hamill joined Guillermo del Toro‘s animated Netflix series Trollhunters in its second season as Dictatious, a laughably confident troll who left his family behind and joined the dark side. (Sound familiar?) Hamill’s character is also the evil twin of Kelsey Grammer‘s hilarious good troll Blinky, who has even more bravado than Sideshow Bob (only if Bob were truly brave and noble). With Grammer preceding him on the show, and with there being such a strong connection between the characters, one might wonder how much of Hamill’s performance as Dictatious is based on Grammer’s Blinky.

“Everything—I owe so much to Kelsey,” Hamill said when I spoke to him ahead of the third and final season’s release on Netflix. “I wasn’t there from the beginning, so to find Dictatious in the first place, you go, ‘Well, I’m Kelsey Grammer’s brother,’ so that gives you sort of an indication that you’re in that same grandiose and semi-pompous grandeur. It informs who you are to a certain extent.”

Hamill points out that connection works in the reverse with the characters themselves, because Blinky looked up to Dictatious growing up. “If [Blinky] once idolized [Dictatious], I was the alpha male, and he would probably be very much influenced by me, ironically enough,” Hamill said. “The opposite is true where I was influenced by Kelsey.” The brothers’ similarities clearly come across watching the show, on which they are both consistently hysterical thanks to their oversized confidence and egos—the good and bad sides of the same coin.

Hamill knows if you’re going to create a character influenced so heavily by another actor, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone better than Grammer as your inspiration. “Not only does he have one of the greatest voices, Sideshow Bob has to be one of the great Simpsons characters of all time,” Hamill said. “Even on Frasier and Cheers, he has such a great voice—such dignity and gravitas.”

But there’s another classic Hollywood voice who Hamill draws on for Dictatious too, though it might not be as obvious. When he joined the cast, Hamill asked the show’s creators if there was a character actor “in the wheelhouse” for what they were looking for. Hamill said, “They said George Sanders,” who is best known for playing the villainous Addison in All About Eve and for voicing Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. “I’m a big movie buff,” Hamill continued. “I live at Turner Classic Movies. I love George Sanders. So even though it’s hard to tell because I’m not really doing a George Sanders impression, it informs his attitude. It helps me know what they want and that was really helpful when they gave me that. So it’s George Sanders by way of Kelsey Grammer.”

Sanders’  influence might not be obvious, but you can certainly hear his style present in Dictatious once you know it’s there.

Fittingly though for a show created by Guillermo del Toro, Hamill’s Dictatious also harkens back to classic creature features, like the old black-and-white King Kong that so enamored a young Hamill with show business in the first place. “The Universal horror films that obviously are so influential on Guillermo’s work were my thing—until The Beatles came along,” Hamill said. “I was swept away by the fantasy of it all. Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, all those people. I would endlessly record them on my mini tape and listen back. My parents were very worried about me.”

It’s not the first time his love for those classic stars helped shape one of his characters. Hamill said, “People probably don’t realize one of the things that influenced my Joker was Claude Rains in The Invisible Man. He had such grit and his voice was so dynamic and I loved all the music of [those performers’] voices.”

Put it all together—Kelsey Grammer’s grandiose Blinky, George Sanders’ coolly evil persona, the same classic horror movies that so greatly influenced Guillermo del Toro and Trollhunters, and a skilled veteran voice actor—and you get Dictatious. But even all of that doesn’t truly contend with the magic of animation. Despite Blinky and Dictatious both being standouts on the show, and both being played by great performers, Mark Hamill and Kelsey Grammer have never even been in the same room.

“To prep for this interview I was watching episodes last night and it’s remarkable,” said Hamill, “Because I’m seeing scenes where I’m back and forth with Kelsey at times, and I swore we were overlapping dialogue. I’m sure they can do that now in the editing, but you’d never know that I’ve never met him.” He might not have ever met his co-star in real life, but on Trollhunters it’s clear Dictatious and Blinky share the same DNA, and that’s all that matters.

Trollhunters third and final season premieres on Netflix on May 25. What do you think of Dictatious’ voice? How much of Blinky can you hear in it? Tell us in the comments below.

Featured Image: Netflix

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