Phil Lord and Chris Miller, directors of The LEGO Movie and executive producers of The LEGO Batman Movie (and LEGO movies beyond that) have talked about how they are, ‘not sure we made each film so much as got away with it.’
In a broad interview about their careers with the Daily Telegraph, they discussed their career trajectory and how original, quirky projects ended up leading to The LEGO Movie and now the Star Wars Han Solo movie.
“When we’d got so far in this business that we were making something called The Lego Movie and were getting to do very strange jokes in the middle of it… that’s, like, why we get up in the morning,” continues Lord. “Our career sometimes feels like a big, all-encompassing prank.”
The pair worked on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street before landing The LEGO Movie, having proved their comedic chops. Chris Miller does not see comedy as a lesser cousin to drama, however.
That’s largely because they’re funny – a bias Miller both recognises and bridles at. “Sometimes comedy feels like the kid brother of drama, trying to get attention by being the class jokester. But it’s actually really hard to tell a story while also making people laugh. It’s like trying to do two jobs at once.”
Working on the Han Solo script with the Kasdans, they agree, has been something of a masterclass. “We’ve been trying to get the script to a stage where it reflects the tone and vision that the four of us have for the movie, and it’s really been the four of us figuring out what that voice is together,” says Miller. A new resource proved unexpectedly fruitful: the creature designers at Lucasfilm, whose ideas for the film’s various nonhuman characters gave Lord and Miller comic ideas to riff on.
It was the potential of creativity, and deeper themes than an extended toy advert might have allowed, that drew them to The LEGO Movie and their concept for it.
In the end, they sold Lego on that hard-to-pitch aesthetic by showing them clips of unauthorised, fan-made Lego animations – “stuff that people had made in their basements because they were inspired,” Lord continues. “It became less about selling the toy than selling what the toy stands for. Engineering and creativity and” – he laughs, probably at the sentiment’s swelling grandeur, but he’s right – “even democracy.”
Read the full interview for more fascinating insight into the careers if the duo who now have a lot of influence in the creative choices made by the LEGO Group, including a few little nuggets about working with Star Wars alumni Lawrence Kasdan on the Han Solo movie.