Lego is clearly building it’s own movie universe. In the words of producer Dan Lin, “The first one was our action adventure movie, the second one was our superhero movie, (Ninjago) is our version of a martial arts meets giant robot kind of movie. So the challenge for us is how to constantly innovate one, how to make it feel different, how to make it feel cinematic and have that Lego movie tone.
We brought some new live action elements into the movie…and we have some organic elements—you see real grass, real water, real trees; it has really different look. We also have an amazing comedy cast, we’re really excited.”
That amazing comedy ensemble includes Dave Franco as Lloyd, the Green Ninja, Michael Pena as Kai, the Fire Ninja, Abbi Jacobson as Nya, the Water Ninja, Zach Woods as Zane, the Water Ninja, Fred Armisen as Cole, the Earth Ninja, KumailNanjani as Jay, the Lightning Ninja, Jackie Chan as Master Wu, Justin Theroux as Garmadon and Olivia Munn as Lloyd’s mom Koko (who also has a secret identity). [Full details of the movie on story below]
I wish I could share my transcript of the whole press conference but I’ve selected two gems, the first one is from Olivia Munn, who I found out is half Asian and has a black belt in Taekwondo. Going off tangent from the movie discussion, she recounted a time in the fifth grade when a kid was picking on her and her sister:
“My sister grabbed him, turned him around and I started doing all the forms, I started kicking and punching him and my sister was like, ‘My turn! My turn!’
His big brother was watching from the side saying, ‘They’re just girls!’
(And the bully said,) ‘I can’t get them off me!’
We were taught that if someone messes with you, you shut them down.”
Olivia adds Koko is her hardest role so far, “because she was so upbeat and my only reference for a mother is an Asian mother and my mom’s very mean.” This is the mom who made her take the martial arts lessons.
On a sweeter note Dave Franco is actually married to the actress who voiced Unikitty in the first Lego movie, Alison Brie.
“Our friend’s kid is obsessed with Lego and so he found out she was Unikitty, and then he found out I was the Green Ninja he kind of paused and tried to process what that meant, so he said ‘Unikitty loves Green Ninja?’
It’s the sweetest thing we ever heard, and we say it to each other all the time now.”
Jackie Chan wasn’t available for this press conference because he was shooting another movie, but Dan Lin said beyond using Jackie’s voice, the Jackie Chan Stunt Team choreographed and executed the fight scenes, which the production crew animated against.
You can catch Olivia, Dave, Jackie and the rest of the cast when Ninjago opens here today.