Serving as refreshing counterpoints to the central heroines in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen are two, compelling male characters who reinforce the film’s comedy, action, and adventure quotient. They are the outdoorsman Kristoff and handsome prince Hans, voiced respectively by Jonathan Groff (TV’s Glee) and Santino Fontana (Broadway’s Billy Elliott).
“Our characters needed to have great depth,” says director Chris Buck. “We wanted them to feel real — even in a magical world — so that they could make a personal connection to the people watching.”
In Frozen, fearless optimist Anna (Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
Kristoff is a true outdoorsman. He lives high up in the mountains where he harvests ice and sells it to the kingdom of Arendelle. Rough around the edges, Kristoff’s the strong, no-nonsense type who follows his own set of rules. He may seem like a loner, but he always has his best friend by his side — a loyal and extremely mangy reindeer.
Voiced by Jonathan Groff, Kristoff promises to raise a few eyebrows — in a good way. “Kristoff is an interesting guy because he doesn’t have a lot of social graces and he’s not great with people,” says Groff. “Yet he’s still charming — he just doesn’t realize that he’s charming because he’s spent so much of his time alone.”
“We liked the idea of an atypical Disney protagonist,” says Buck. “He’s just a regular guy. He’s messy and dirty and unexpected. He lives in the mountains outside Arendelle and his best buddy is a reindeer named Sven.”
“Kristoff is really important to the story because he has no problem challenging Anna’s point of view,” says director Jennifer Lee. “We knew we’d need someone like Jonathan who people would like even when he disagreed with her. And Jonathan — that voice …”
“Everyone just fell for [Groff],” adds Buck. “He brings this likable charm to the character. He’s very easy going — an every-man kind of guy.”
Meanwhile, Hans is a handsome royal from a neighboring kingdom who comes to Arendelle for Elsa’s coronation. With 12 older brothers, Hans grew up feeling practically invisible — and Anna can relate. Hans is smart, observant, and chivalrous. Unlike Elsa, Hans promises he’ll never shut Anna out; he just might be the connection she’s been waiting for all these years.
Santino Fontana was called on to voice Anna’s suitor. “Hans has a good sense of humor,” says Fontana. “He’s slightly awkward, but in a good way, which is a good match for Anna. They find each other at a perfect time because they both need someone to say, ‘You’re OK.'”
Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote “Love Is an Open Door” to showcase the spark between Hans and Anna. “This song explains why Anna would rush into marrying somebody who she only knew for a day,” says Anderson-Lopez. “If she had a whole life of doors in her face and this one night a door opens, she’s going to run through it as fast as she can because she’s been craving love for so long.”
Adds Lopez, “Not only did you have to understand why she would make such a rash decision, but you have to agree with that decision. We want the audience to say, ‘Yeah, Hans is great, she should marry that guy.’ That’s why the song is so sunny and happy.”
To find out why critics have been raving about this Disney animated feature, click here.
Opening across the Philippines in 3D and 2D on Nov. 27, Frozen is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures. Check out the international poster below.