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How to Train Your Dragon Movie Preview

The new animated film's stars talk about their medieval movie – and how it'll resonate with kids and parents alike

You know an animated film's gotta be high-flying fun if one of its voices – Ugly Betty's America Ferrera – wishes her tough-cookie character wasn't just make-believe. Voicing Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon, hitting theaters on March 26, 2010, was such a joy for the actress that she wanted to be a real Viking girl – kicking butt and taking names.

"There's a part of me that really regrets that this wasn't live-action," Ferrera tells Metro Parent about the new medieval-fable film – in 3D, of course – from the Shrek creators. That's not just because she's the sword-toting chick who's mighty capable of battling the boys, including fellow Viking Hiccup (voiced by the ubiquitous Jay Baruchel of Tropic Thunder and She's Out of My League fame).

How to Train Your Dragon – based on the 2003 children's book – has Hiccup, a sharp and quirky kid, proving himself as a fearless warrior. All that's in his way is a disabled dragon, who challenges Hiccup to choose between being a fighter and a friend.

"Once Toothless appears, there's more to dragons than what we thought. And as a result, it changes the entire Viking demeanor and approach," Baruchel says. "He makes them change their whole game plan."

A darling dragon's only the half of it, though. Hiccup owes some of this turnaround to Astrid, who encourages him to do what's right and harnesses the hero label in the unlikeliest of ways. That she's female is no biggie, either.

"I love that the movie never really makes a big deal out of it," Ferrera says. "She's the best young fighting dragon player and there's no mention of, ‘You're a girl, so that's ridiculous.'"

That was familiar for Ferrera, who spent her childhood being one of the boys because, well, she could be. Girls' softball? As if! The actress made her mom put her on the guys' Little League team.

"That was my Astrid moment when I was growing up," she says.

Baruchel saw similarities between him and his character, too: "I relate to him because he's real skinny and childlike. And his dad wants him to be more athletic and physical than he wants to be. So these are all things that resonate with me."

For young women warriors who feel like Ferrera, the once-tomboy thinks Astrid's a powerful player and a fierce example that anyone can do anything. Baruchel calls her the flick's "alpha male." "Just having her in this movie, (not) cooking or knitting, it's really wonderful," Ferrera says.

Even more, some of Ferrera's favorite films are where the little ones turn out to be the true heroes. "I love movies that show young people being able to change the world in a way that older people can't. That totally stays true in this movie because Hiccup and the kids are the ones who are more open to learning about the unknown."

Sounds like a valuable lesson for parents and kids. In fact, there was even one in there for Baruchel: "I learned how to design medieval siege weapons that take dragons out of the sky."

Ya know, just in case.

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