Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 has opened to widespread critical acclaim and great box office returns. The animated feature reunites the principal cast from the first film and several new additions, including veteran actor Djimon Hounsou. Hounsou plays the villainous Drago Bludvist, a dragon hunter; and he says that he was drawn to the project’s themes of young people triumphing in less-than-ideal circumstances.
“The theme that runs through that film is sort of the same issues that most of us have nowadays,” Hounsou tells rolling out. “Growing up in such a fast society where you may not have a father to grow up with or mother to grow up with, but you still have to make the best out of whatever the situation might be, I think it deals with that — and diversity amongst people and animals. It’s beautiful.”
One of Hounsou’s most notable early roles was also a Dreamworks’ project, the critically acclaimed historical epic Amistad, and he acknowledges how his career has come full circle. “I feel like I’m 20 years old, since this is my 20-year anniversary!” he says with a laugh. “I started a couple of years after they announced the opening of the studio.”
A lot has changed, most notably, Hounsou is a dad now, and his son, Kenzo, accompanied him for much of his recording on How to Train Your Dragon 2. “Kenzo was with me many times when I went to record this in the studio,” he shares. “I was going to the Cannes Film Festival for the presentation of How to Train … I couldn’t tell him I was going there and not take him to see it. He was interested and wondering what the process is really like, making an animated feature. He saw the first one and wanted to see the second one.”
The familial elements of the story resonated deeply with Hounsou and he related how they could help young kids like his own son. Hounsou and Kenzo’s mom, model and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons, have not been together for two years, but they have been able to make their non-traditional family structure work.
“He’s only 5 years old,” the actor states. “He knows his mom and I have been separated; but I think for any kids looking at [the movie], it’s quite nice to know that you can grow up in such a diverse environment and still be well-balanced.”