“I have to get going. Morgan Freeman is running early.” File that under things I never thought I’d say to my husband. About a week ago, I had the opportunity to cover The LEGO Movie press junket at LEGOLAND California for The Insider on CBS (see below for the video clip). I chatted one-on-one with Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Chris Platt, Will Arnett and the co-directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I know my eyes are closed in the photo above, but it’s the only one I have from the crazy weekend!
The night prior, my 6-year-old daughter and I attended a press screening of The LEGO Movie, which I later learned was the very first time that Chris Pratt had seen the movie in its entirety.
The movie does an excellent job of addressing the two different types of LEGO enthusiasts: those who go by the directions and those who wing it. I am convinced that anyone who has played with LEGOs, regardless of age, will enjoy the film.
13 Fun Facts About The LEGO Movie
1. The movie itself contains 3,863,484 unique LEGO bricks. Some are reused and reconfigured in multiple scenes but if you wanted to recreate the entire movie by hand, you’d need 15,080,330.
2. The movie also features 183 unique minifigures, some of which were childhood favorites of the directors.
3. “Everything audiences see–whether smoke or water, rock formations, fire or even explosions–is made of LEGO pieces. We wanted to depict national elements built out of bricks as they’ve never been seen before on the big screen,” says producer Dan Lin.
4. It was important that everything seen on screen could be assembled by hand with actual bricks. Some of the more complex set pieces were put to the test at LEGO Headquarters in Denmark for structural integrity.
5. Maintaining the integrity of the LEGO minifigure was extremely difficult since the facial features had to remain flat, like 2D stickers, while the character moves. In essence, they are 2D faces on 3D characters.
6. The LEGO corporation was very hands-on. If the filmmakers needed a particular piece developed, they were quick to produce options.
Press Junket: Interviews With The Cast
I had eight minutes with each cast member and an iPad full of adorable questions from kids of parents in The Insider’s social media community. Thank goodness grooming was on offer as I’m rubbish when it comes to make up.
7. It’s probably no surprise that Elizabteh Banks is as beautiful in person as she is on the screen. She told me that recording the voice for Wyldstyle, the movie’s heroine, doubled as a workout. She jumped around in the same manner her character does on screen, often ditching shoes to avoid extra noise.
8. Actors in animated movies record alone most of the time, but some of her scenes were recorded together with Chris Pratt and Will Arnett in order to convey more authenticity. She was a LEGO enthusiast in her youth, building things to accompany her existing toys like a house for My Little Pony and so forth. And, her kids do keep their LEGOs organized… if that doesn’t make you more jealous of her than you already are.
9. Interestingly enough, this was his first animated film. After scolding me for not wearing a jacket on a rare gloomy day in San Diego, he admitted that his role was much more challenging than he had anticipated. In fact, he had to re-record quite a bit to get his voice right. LEGOs weren’t really a part of his childhood and he still doesn’t have LEGO skills to brag about despite playing the goofy Vitruvius wizard in the movie.
(Also, I said something like, “I hope you’re enjoying San Diego!” To which he cheekily replied, “We aren’t in San Diego. We’re in Carlsbad.” Point taken. I didn’t have a chance to ask him about his stem cell documentary, which his PR rep mentioned is his latest passion.)
10. I was such a huge fan of his Arrested Development character, G.O.B., that I couldn’t really focus properly on our interview. Will Arnett signed on to play Batman in the movie three years ago and it’s been a great experience for him because during that time his boys naturally started taking an interest in LEGOs. Their drill is that they assemble a LEGO creation by the directions first, and then anything goes after that.
(One of kid questions I played for him mentioned bat puns, or jokes by his character throughout the movie. He says “butt” in a scene. I told him my daughter also thought was hilarious and then wondered if she’s be agitated by that confession if it aired on national TV. It did, but she didn’t kick up a fuss.)
11. Gosh is he a likable person and a perfect fit to play Emmet, the main character who is an average LEGO minifigure mistakenly identified as key to saving the world. Despite having done maybe 50 interviews prior to mine, he radiated enthusiasm. His son isn’t old enough for LEGOs but he’s been keeping some promotional pieces from the movie to give to him eventually. His celebrity crush is his wife, Anna Faris, and most of our interview is actually shown on The Insider.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
12. The co-directors were also a pleasure to speak with and keen to know what my daughter and I thought about the movie. They asked if we laughed at the same or different times and were pleased to know that I answered the latter. They even joked that my LEGO blue dress meshed in with the scenery around the park, which was actually true. And, they genuinely loved the questions from the kids. Their intent was for people to see the movie and not know whether or not the set was real or animated… you’ll get what I mean by this after you see it.
LEGOLAND California’s Role
13. Though it seems hosting the press junket at LEGOLAND California is an obvious choice, the truth is that LEGOLAND had to step in with a convincing argument. Kudos to the LEGOLAND public relations department for a job well done!
Debut On The Insider
Fast forward to Wednesday, as I rocketed up to Studio City to film the short intro for the segment with the lovely Thea Andrews. The clip is below, though view it here if it isn’t loading properly. Join the conversation in The Insider social community by following the hashtag #insider on Twitter and Facebook. You never know… you may wind up on the show!
You don’t have to have kids to enjoy The LEGO Movie. It hits theaters on February 7. Go see it!