Phil Lord And Chris Miller On The Upcoming Lego Movies

From Ninjago to The Lego Movie 2

Empire magazine February issue - Chris Miller and Phil Lord feature
The Phil Lord and Chris Miller feature spread from the February issue of Empire magazine.

Back in November, there were a few quotes from the Empire Podcast interview with Lego Movie and Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller worth analysing in their own news story, and now you can enjoy some more, in the form of these outtakes from our Oscars Special interview with the very same pair. In short, if you're excited about Ninjago, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Movie 2, click no further, brick botherers.

Are you going to direct The Lego Movie 2?

Miller: "I don’t think so. We’re writing the sequel right now and obviously producing all the other ones. There’s a challenge to make each one feel like its own thing. Part of the fun is finding people like Charlie [Bean], who’s doing the Ninjago movie, and Chris McKay who did so much on the first film. Each of them have their own distinct voices and ideas for tone. So it will each have its own personality and not just be, ‘Hey, remember that last movie? Here’s another one just like it!” So that’s been a big challenge but so far it’s been going better than I expected."

Lord: "I think it’s nice for all these other films to have their own voice and that’s what’s neat about working with all these other filmmakers. They come up with solutions you wouldn’t think of. Watching Charlie Bean’s sequences for Ninjago is so gratifying because he’s able to make it play without any dialogue and has a really great visual style. It’s really nice and refreshing. I think it would get boring if we directed them all, quite honestly."

Will the other films have the same ‘Lego self-awareness’ that your film had?

Miller: "We talk about them and oftentimes we say, ‘What can you do in this movie that you can only do because it’s a Lego movie?’ Obviously you’re not just going to do a straight Batman movie. You have to take advantage of the medium you’re working in. So then you have the advantage of the Will Arnett version of Batman. On top of that we’re trying to take advantage of the fact that it’s Lego."

Lord: "Sometimes the more serious you take the material the funnier it is. They’re so cute. They’re like three heads tall and they look like Smurfs, so if they take themselves seriously there’s something funny about it."

You’re writing Lego Movie 2. You weren’t originally, so what changed?

Miller: "We thought we’d said everything we wanted to say about creativity and imagination and the inherent nature of Lego, and that left-brain/right-brain nature. So we were scared about trying to write something that felt like the next chapter and new ideas and not just a rehash."

Lord: "We also worried we didn’t have enough time. Luckily, [Chris] McKay and Jared [Stern] and Michelle [Morgan] all worked on the movie a bit in our absence and really cracked the beginnings of a story and got us really excited; excited enough to write it. We should be writing right now. We’ve opened a Final Draft document and titled it. I mean, that’s really the hardest part. And we’ve chosen the formatting. That is all that’s happened so far. We’ve been outlining a bunch."

Miller: "There are some really fun new themes that we didn’t explore in the first movie and got us really excited, so that it’s its own thing. With 22 Jump Street we did the whole making fun of yourself for just doing the same thing again. We can’t do that ever again. You can only go so far up your own rear end."

In broad strokes, what do you want to explore with the second?

Miller: "Well I don’t want to give you spoilers but we were really interested in what happens to that boy who’s in the meta story in the first movie when he’s four years older. When he’s an adolescent how does that change his point of view?

"And it’s nice to have the characters start in a different place from the first movie. Emmet, for example, was in an existential crisis of having seen another dimension and was questioning the whole point of his existence."

The Lego Movie 2 is set for a 2018 release, The Lego Batman Movie will come out February 10, 2017, and Ninjago will hit cinemas on October 14, 2016. The current issue, where more from Lord and Miller can be found, is out now.

Interview by Olly Richards.