'Trolls' Director on Crafting a Soundtrack with Justin Timberlake

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'Trolls' cast

The music for the animated movie includes selections from Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Trolls is based on the ultra-popular Troll dolls from the 1960s, but they aren't the only throwback in the animated feature. 

"Very early on, even before we had cast anyone, we knew this wanted to be a needle-drop musical," explained director Mike Mitchell during a Facebook Live interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The soundtrack is filled with nostalgia-inducing classics like Lionel Richie's "Hello," Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" and Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out."

Trolls centers on the ever-positive Princecs Poppy (Anna Kendrick), who teams up with reluctant hypochondriac Branch (Justin Timberlake) to save their friends from the evil Bergen, who eat Trolls for their happiness. 

"By the time we went to pitch to Justin, we had songs from the '70s, '80s and '90s." Mitchell remembers when he first presented the story and the music to the NSYNC alum: "He goes, 'I know exactly what you are trying to do and I can help you do it even better than you are doing it already.'" 

Timberlake signed on to star, and also volunteered to produce the music for the movie. Mitchell says, "It took me all of one second to go, 'Yes! Please! Thank you!'"   

The Trolls cast is stacked with musical talent, from pop stars like Gwen Stefani to theater vets Christine Baranski and James Corden. But Mitchell's favorite musical moment is when Kendrick's Poppy belts out a rendition of "September," which they got to record with the actual members of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Timberlake even offered to write an original song for the third act of the movie that was meant to close out the entire story. Mitchell remembers: "He goes, 'I'll make sure it's a hit song, as well.' And I laughed because I thought it was funny, and lo and behold it is a hit song." 

"Feeling" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the official music video for the song has over 263 million views on YouTube. Mitchell added: "Apparently that is just what he does."   

Trolls hits theaters Nov. 4.

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