Immersed in Movies: Laughing it Up at the 'LEGO Movie' Press Conference

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by Bill Desowitz
February 4, 2014 5:56 PM
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Maybe it was the wacky LEGOLAND backdrop (with the marvelous miniature set behind them), or the funny nature of the movie itself, or the fact that Morgan Freeman was such a hoot, but the LEGO Movie press conference was even more fun than expected. Among the participants were directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller; voice talent Chris Pratt, Freeman, Will Arnett, and Elizabeth Banks; producer Dan Lin; and animation supervisor Chris McKay. Here are a few of the highlights:

Arnett on playing Batman (who was interrupted by Freeman but who later complimented him on his cool portrayal): "Phil and Chris and I talked early on about the idea of looking at all the Batmans that have come before and trying to find out... what would make us laugh and what we liked about all those Batmans. And so the first couple of sessions, we spent a lot of time finding that voice and what was working and what wasn't. And we kept hitting on the more serious Batman took himself, the funnier he was. And that's where we ended up."

Freeman then interrupted the directors wanting to know why Robin wasn't included, and Miller replied that it would've been two hours and then added that Batman works alone and then recalled a joke in which Batman proclaims he works alone before pulling out Alfred and Robin (who apparently don't count) and making his exit.

The biggest challenge: Miller said, "Getting a story that made sense and was entertaining of all the things, but from a technical standpoint, probably getting the CG to look photoreal and be full of thumbprints and scratches and dust and dandruff and make you think it was a real LEGO set." He then made fun of Freeman's character, the Yoda-like old mystic, Vitruvius, who had so much dandruff that it was like snow.

The earliest memory of LEGO: According to Banks, "grabbing them from my sister -- 'no, they're mine!' And now I have two young sons and have journeyed back. I like to build things and I'll have a fun time building things that are cool with my sons on the floor. And then they'll  immediately smash it. That's part of their process -- to destroy it. Mine's to feel proud of it."

On the other hand, Freeman chimed in, "My kids were little at one time... and my memory of LEGO is those little pieces scattered all over the apartment. I don't have any creativity around LEGO and neither do my kids so ... I don't even know which ones got the gifts, but the pieces just wound up being on the floor."

Pratt on voicing Emmet: "He's this sad, lonely character who doesn't feel particularly special, and,throughout the course of this movie is given the opportunity to do something very [special].... He didn't need much backstory: 'Doofus with extraordinary things happening around him.' I know how to do that."

Miller on the infectious theme song, "Everything is Awesome": "We did write into the script that there would be a song called 'Everything is Awesome,' and it was the most insane, cheesy, catchy pop songs of all time. Chris McKay's friend, Sean Patterson, came up with this tune that burrows into your brain and never leaves. It's got this quality where it sits in your brain and says, 'I'm not goin' away!"


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