The LEGO Movie cast had an utter blast diving into the world of LEGO bricks and the wide variety of characters that that universe possesses. We met Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman and Will Arnett at LEGOland recently to talk about the brilliant and dazzling (teased in The LEGO Movie trailer) film from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
We had to start with Arnett and his Batman. Not only does he nail a unique voice for the role, but his characterization brings much of the film’s humor. “We talked about listening to all the Batmen that came before,” Arnett said of how they honed in on his character.
“We were trying to see what would make us laugh and what we liked about all those Batmen. The first couple of sessions we spent a lot of time finding that voice. We kept hitting on the more serious Batman took himself, the funnier he was. That’s where we ended up.”
Arnett, Pratt and Banks have little kids and each are excited for their children to discover the magic of The LEGO Movie. “I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old and they are both extremely excited. My youngest keeps referring to the movie as ‘The LEGO Batman Movie,’” Arnett proudly stated.
Although Pratt has a child who is only 18 months old, he got to be the cool uncle for his role in The LEGO Movie. “I’ve got four nephews from 10 to 15 and they are huge LEGO nuts and big fans,” Pratt said. “I flew them here to see the movie and go to LEGOland for a Christmas present.”
Banks mirrors Arnett’s pride in that her children believe that this film is all about her. “At this point my nearly three-year-old son calls my mini-figure Wyldstyle 'Mommy-LEGO' and I let him think that,” she said and laughed.
Their first memories of LEGO vary, with Freeman finding the toys kind of a pain, literally.
“My kids are grown up now but were little at one time. My memory of LEGO was just little pieces of LEGOs scattered all over the apartment. I don’t have any creativity with LEGO and neither did my kids. Not sure which one of them got the gift for Christmas but the pieces just wound up on the floor,” Freeman said.
“Stepping on a LEGO piece with a bare foot is about the worst thing that can happen,” Pratt added.
For Banks, it was more about asserting her place amongst her sisters. “My earliest memory of LEGO is grabbing them from my sisters,” Banks said and laughed. “I was very bossy about it. Now, I have two young sons and I like to build things. I’ll admit that. I’ll spend time with my sons on the floor and build something cool and present it to them and they will immediately smash it. That’s part of their process.”
For Pratt, he discovered early on that LEGO could be used as a weapon. But, one must be careful in the execution of the weapon. “I like to make swords and weapons and whack people with them. That was my thing -- hit my brother with a LEGO sword and try to see how fast you could swing a LEGO sword without it breaking. Even then I was really strong,” Pratt said as everyone laughed.
Other than Arnett, the rest had the task of creating a backstory for their character that had not previously existed in the LEGO world for The LEGO Movie. Pratt plays Emmet, a builder who believes that all things are good, even if at the end of the day… he is immensely alone. When he is mistaken for “the one” by Banks' Wyldstyle, he embarks on a journey with “real” heroes -- such as Batman, Superman (Channing Tatum) and Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders) to save the LEGO world from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
“Emmet’s journey in this movie is very clear. If, as an old man, he were to say, ‘Let me tell you the story of my life,’ he would just pop in The LEGO Movie DVD and say, ‘This is the entire story,’” he said and laughed.
“There wasn’t a lot of backstory because you know who he is when he starts out. He’s this sadly lonely character who doesn’t feel like anyone thinks he is special. Through the course of this movie he’s given the opportunity to do something very extraordinary and test himself and prove he can believe in himself and become less lonely by inheriting this family of master-builders. I didn’t need too much backstory other than doofus with extraordinary things happening around him. I know how to do that. It’s happening in my real life.”
Banks took the words on The LEGO Movie script and found her inner Wyldstyle. “I felt that Wyldstyle really wanted to feel special in her life and isn’t quite sure what her place in the world is. Her real name is Lucy. Wyldstyle is the personality that she takes on so that she can date Batman basically,” Banks aid. “She’s dark and brooding in hoodies and too cool for school. And through the course of the movie she realizes that he is just a narcissistic jerk and she can do better. I love that. She has a lot going on in the movie.”
Arnett admits he had the easiest job of them all. “Everyone knows who Batman is but what was fun is taking that iconic character who is such a part of popular culture and changing the rules a little bit. That was fun and funny,” Arnett said.
“He’s not necessarily the Batman we’ve become accustomed to. But he was ultimately cool. In the end he redeems himself. He has (some good action) and gets into a few scrapes.”
Finally, if one looked closely, it could be said that there is some similarity between Banks’ Wyldstyle and her role as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games. “Yeah, actually -- they both have great hair and cool costume changes!”
The LEGO Movie is one of the biggest surprises in animation history for how supremely awesome it is!
Click through the slideshow below and see who made it on our list of 9 Surprisingly Awesome Animation Movies!
1. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Never underestimate Trey Parker and Matt Stone. When given the chance to bring their Comedy Central series to the big screen, South Park exploded in the best of ways.
The director of Pirates of the Caribbean joining forces again with Johnny Depp in an animated movie about a lizard in the Old West? Who knew it would be so good... it would win an Oscar!
Seriously, a movie about a Parisian rat who is a great chef. Whenever thinking about rats in kitchens, the thought is to run the other way. Should never bet against Disney!
4. How to Train Your Dragon
A movie about a frail viking teenager and his effort to tame a dragon didn't have the highest of expectations. No one could have expected such a fine film, packed with humanity and heart.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Combining live action and animation had had very mixed results in Hollywood history. But Who Framed Roger Rabbit gave us a film that looked as amazing as it was wickedly smart... and timeless!
6. Chicken Run
A The Great Escape featuring chickens not trying to become dinner starring Mel Gibson? Please! In fact, it was a triumph of animation, storytelling and performance that also stands the test of time.
Who would ever have predicted that a stop motion animation movie about a kid who sees the supernatural could charm us as much as ParaNorman did? Not only did it score as an incredible movie, but it quickly became one of our favorite movies. Period.
8. Team America: World Police
The South Park guys do it again. Trey and Matt's commentary about the role of America as the world's police was wickedly sharp, impeccably captured with puppetry animation and in the end -- was utterly hilarious.