Miller Lord Lego

The Lego Movie is now in theaters and, once you’ve seen it, you’ll probably be buzzing both about how “awesome” it is, and talking about all its surprises.

In part two of our interview with the film’s writers and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, we talked about many of those surprises and more. We talked about issues around putting so many different franchises in one single movie. We talked about a few of the more surprising and exciting cameos, and we talked about the film’s ending and how it was developed. Here’s part one, the non-spoiler stuff; click below for part two.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE LEGO MOVIE FOLLOW.

/Film: I’m fascinated by the licensing in the movie. Obviously Lego has a ton of licenses, and it’s a Warner Brothers movie, so there’s some crossover there with DC, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The Star Wars scene surprised the heck out of me. And there are The Simpsons, Ninja Turtles, everything. Were there any Lego licenses you couldn’t use, or restrictions on how much you could use something?

Chris Miller: Well I would say we got almost everything that we wanted. And the real limitation was we have to tell a story and you can only have so many sort of laugh-in side characters popping in to cameo and distract you from the main storyline. So we had more than we could even fit in the movie. And, you know, each one of them involved, even the ones that were Warner movies involved a lot of legal rights negotiations. But it was really important to us that we had a lot of different universes and a lot of different worlds colliding that had never collided before. Because that’s sort of the way kids play with Lego. They have them all in a bin. My son especially will put Batman and Chewbacca and a cowboy together on a spaceship. And so we wanted to have it feel like that.

Do you have to reign in from trying to make the ultimate Geek cross-over movie? In a way, I think this is actually the closest thing to The Avengers we’ve ever seen in the Geek universe. 

Miller: [Laughs] I mean, it’s really ‘Does it work for the story’ and ‘Is it funny?’ Are we flying ourselves down or are we driving the story forward?

Phil Lord: Occasionally we had long sequences of stuff that was really funny in microcosm and then when you put it in the body of the 90 minute movie, it just didn’t make sense. And so I’d say that there’s a lot of funny stuff on the cutting room floor.

Miller: Yeah. I mean, a lot of those other smaller characters of licensed properties had a lot more stuff to do in the longer version of the movie. Wonder Woman was in more. Some of the other ones that we’re not really allowed to talk about were in more. We tried to cram it as full as we could and still have it be a good story.

Lego Movie Superman Green Lantern

I loved that you got Billy Dee Williams [as Lando] and you got Anthony Daniels [as C-3P0], was there an attempt to get Harrison Ford [As Han Solo]? (Note: He’s voiced by Keith Ferguson in the film.)

Lord: Well, you know, as you might imagine, Harrison Ford is a busy man. You know, it would make sense to have invited him, that’s probably all I’ll say. But we definitely, you know, we tried. We invited everybody who could possibly participate and we’re sad some people were really busy.

You’re telling an adventure story, but you infuse it with the essence of Lego, specifically with the big reveal towards the end. What idea came first? Was it the Emmet story or the “Man Upstairs” framework? How did you blend the two?

Miller: They both were there from the beginning. You know, we wanted to do a real classic hero’s journey but then turn it on its head. Where we wanted to have a chosen one who was chosen at random and doesn’t actually have any skills whatsoever. So we thought that was something interesting about everyone. And we also wanted to do this other aspect of the story, which was really intrinsic to our original concept of the movie. And so we knew the storylines had to talk to each other. It all had to be one and the same thematically. And each one definitely informed the other.

Lord: I don’t think we knew how it was gonna work. I don’t think we were like “Yeah, we’re gonna figure out some way where these all belong together.”

Miller: And it didn’t work for like well over a year of developing it, it just didn’t come together. And then…

Lord: There was a lot of pressure to drop the more meta story because, you know, the other story was working well. But then you don’t really need that. We just sort of thought it was such a nice, special thing and it seems like people are more or less, I don’t wanna say surprised, but they’re sort of feel like in the end that’s the thing that has to happen. And I’m glad that we persevered, finally. Because sometimes you don’t know where else the movie could go. And you’re hoping that it has one more move, you know?

Lego Lord Business

Yeah. Well it got me. You’ve got little hints here and there early in the movie. And then there’s the one shot of the skyscraper and it clicked. But I still, it went even further than that. And I think it works beautifully.

Miller: Oh I’m so glad.

Lord: So glad.

The Lego Movie is in theaters now.

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