When it comes to playing with Legos, there are two kinds of builders: those who follow the instructions to a T, and those who take a free-form approach. In making “The Lego Movie,” filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller and star Chris Pratt took the latter approach.
In this clip from a recent presentation of the film for the Envelope Screening Series, Pratt talks about ad-libbing and improvising from the usually narrow confines of the vocal booth.
“I think it was really a little different the way that [Lord and Miller] did it,” Pratt says. Typically with animated movies, “the screenplay — word for word — was the holy grail. You come in and you’re locked off in a box and you just say each line over and over and over, and you give them several options, but exactly as written .… It’s like following the instructions perfectly. You know exactly what piece you need, you get it and you lay it down.”
Just like with the plastic building blocks, going by the book makes it easy to put everything together in the end — even when the actors record their lines in isolation and on separate days — but it doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity.
For “The Lego Movie,” Pratt says, the actors often recorded scenes together, which allowed them to try new things and deviate from the script.
“We’re sitting around, we’re all saying our parts, and the scene is coming to life,” Pratt recalls. He adds, “Comedy is so organically born in the moment by stuff that doesn’t exist on the page. There’s this magic that happens when you have people who are capable of ad-libbing.”
For more from Pratt, Lord and Miller, watch the full clip above, and check back for more.
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