BRICKS OF FURY

The co-di­rec­tor of The Lego Ninjago Movie, Char­lie Bean, talks through his posse of tiny he­roes

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS OLLY RICHARDS

Movie tells the story of Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco), a boy whose evil despot dad, Lord Gar­madon (Justin Th­er­oux), is a source of great em­bar­rass­ment. With the city of Ninjago un­der threat (Dad again), Lloyd finds friend­ship with a group of teen nin­jas. Not only does Ninjago in­clude Lego fight scenes chore­ographed by Jackie Chan (who voices the group’s men­tor, Master Wu), it also has a stel­lar voice cast of comic ac­tors. Co-di­rec­tor Char­lie Bean in­tro­duces his six lit­tle nin­jas.

1 KAI (MICHAEL PEÑA)

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“Peña is so funny. Kai is the Fire Ninja and his sis­ter, Nya, is the Wa­ter Ninja. He has this big mech — they all have gi­ant ve­hi­cles — with flamethrow­ers for hands. Ac­cord­ingly, he’s kind of a hot­head. Michael makes that su­per-funny. We couldn’t do a lot of record­ing ses­sions with every­one to­gether, but we’d put Abbi Ja­cob­son [Nya] and Michael to­gether and just throw things at them. They were amaz­ing.”

2 NYA (ABBI JA­COB­SON)

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“I’m such a huge fan of Broad City [which Ja­cob­son writes and stars in]. I think it’s the very top of what’s hap­pen­ing in com­edy. Our cast are all writ­ers, which means they’re great at im­pro­vis­ing. Nya is an ex­tremely skilled and pow­er­ful ninja who has the dif­fi­culty of be­ing

the one girl in the group. She’s one of my favourite char­ac­ters in the movie.”

3 COLE (FRED AR­MISEN)

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“Cole is the Earth Ninja, he’s grounded and mel­low. He’s a mu­sic fan who drives a mech around that’s rigged up with gi­ant sub­woofers and turnta­bles, and he can fire sonic blasts. We looked at what [Fred Ar­misen] did on Port­landia or Satur­day

Night Live, where he can pull new char­ac­ters out con­stantly. The man can be any­one.”

4 ZANE (ZACH WOODS)

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“Zane is a ro­bot. He’s a bit of a Pinoc­chio. He just wants to be a reg­u­lar teen, but he’s very clearly not. He’s the Ice Ninja and he drives this in­cred­i­ble tank that shoots ice bul­lets. I knew Zach Woods from The Of­fice and Sil­i­con Val­ley. He has the most un­be­liev­able brain. Michael Peña turned to me in the record­ing booth with his jaw dropped at the stuff Zach was com­ing up with on the fly.”

5 JAY (KUMAIL NANJIANI)

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“I watched Kumail do stand-up com­edy a lot in LA and he’s a brilliant comic. With all these ac­tors we were look­ing for voices that would stand out from each other, which I think we re­ally have here. Jay is the Light­ning Ninja and he has kind of a ner­vous per­son­al­ity, which makes him re­ally talk­a­tive. That re­ally works with Kumail’s comic per­son­al­ity. He’s such a funny char­ac­ter.”

6 LLOYD (DAVE FRANCO)

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“Lloyd is the leader of the nin­jas. He’s also the son of Lord Gar­madon, who’s heck bent on de­stroy­ing the city — and ev­ery­body knows it. How­ever, no­body knows he’s the Green Ninja [aka The Cho­sen One], try­ing to save them all, so school is pretty awk­ward. We chose Dave Franco be­cause, while he’s such a sweet guy, there’s also a bit of an edge to his voice. He’s like Ralph Mac­chio from Karate Kid in­stead of some Dis­ney hero.”

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