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Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Stars Lana Condor & Annie Murphy on the Murky Depths of High School

The depths of the ocean aren't as dissimilar to high school as you might think.

By Adam Pockross

You might think that a kraken and high school have very little to do with each other, but that just means you haven’t seen Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken yet. 

Worry not, you can rectify that mythical-sea-creature mishap this weekend when “the first female-titled lead of DreamWorks Animation” splashes into theaters everywhere, as co-director Kirk DeMicco (Vivo, The Croods) noted to NBC Insider at the film’s press junket last week. 

RELATED: Mermaids are actually the bad guys in first trailer for Dreamworks' Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

Lana Condor (SYFY’s Deadly Class, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) plays lead Ruby, a typical teenager (well, aside from being a kraken and all) growing up in lovely Oceanside where she's hiding out amongst the humans with her kraken family: overzealous mother, Agatha (Toni Collette), supportive father, Arthur (Colman Domingo), and little brother, Sam (Blue Chapman). Like most high schoolers, all Ruby really wants to do is hang out with her friends, but as she soon discovers, the beautiful new girl in school, Chelsea (Annie Murphy), happens to be a powerful mermaid who wants to rope her into an ancient kraken/mermaid war that somehow involves Ruby’s Grandmamah (Jane Fonda), aka the Warrior Queen of the Seven Seas.

Yeah, there's a lot more than her math grade to worry about. 

But still, there is math ... and boys, and fitting in, and all the problems that plague high schoolers to no end. So how do krakens fit in? Well, to get a better sense of how the depths of the ocean are similarly murky to those of high school, we plunged in with the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker DeMicco, as well as stars Condor and Murphy (who won an Emmy for playing Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek alongside SYFY's SurrealEstate stars Tim Rozon and Sarah Levy).

Annie Murphy, Lana Condor, and Kirk DeMicco on Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

“There’s a whole world of darkness that we don’t know about in both worlds," Murphy said when asked about the similarities between the depths of the ocean and high school. "I mean, I think high school is such a tricky time for a lot of people, it was tricky for me for sure. And a lot of creatures lurking around that you don’t necessarily want to get to know too well or have come too close to you. That’s kind of a similarity. But we get through it. We get out, and we dry off, and we become more comfortable and go bask in the sun after that, hopefully.”

“The ocean can sometimes be a scary place. I think high school can be a scary place,” Condor added. “The ocean is very unpredictable, and I think high school can be very unpredictable.” 

Ruby Gillman and Connor in Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken.

Of course, the comparisons between high school and the open ocean were there from the beginning for the filmmakers.

“We used to joke that we didn’t know what was more dangerous: Either the halls of high school or the internecine kraken/mermaid war. But it is true, for Grandmamah, her situation is one where she’s sort of the queen of the high school, and she’s saying, ‘This the way forward for you, Ruby,'" DeMicco said. "Ruby also has a best friend telling her what to do. And I do believe in high school you have lots of different people telling you which way you should live your life… you’ve got teachers telling you, you’ve got parents. So that sort of whirlwind that Ruby finds herself in is very familiar, very relatable. And the truth is is that she needs to… a coming of age... to choose her own path. I think that what was in that relationship with her grandmother and her mother that they had to come to terms with is that it was Ruby’s turn to call her own shots.” 

The film also stars Emmy nominee Will Forte (Saturday Night Live, The Last Man on Earth), Emmy nominee Nicole Byer (Nailed It!), Emmy nominee Sam Richardson (Veep), Liza Koshy (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Work It), Ramona Young (Never Have I Ever), Eduardo Franco (Stranger Things), Echo Kellum (Arrow), and Emma Chamberlain (Anything Goes podcast), and is co-directed by Faryn Pearl.

Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken opens wide this Friday, June 30. Get tickets now!

For heaps more DreamWorks Animation goodness, head over to Peacock where the likes of Shrek, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Trolls World Tour, and more are now streaming.