Collider: So is that still…
Phil Lord: I can’t offer specific plot details but yeah, I mean a bit part of the Lego universe is about building and re-building and construction and stuff like that. I mean, we’re definitely going to integrate what’s awesome about Lego into the storytelling, which is that you can take these things apart and put them back together really in a new way. And again, it goes back to those themes of creativity and how that the super power that everybody has. You know, Chris and I talk a lot about… especially now that there’s less art being taught in schools, but one of the things that really got us really excited about this movie is that it’s really a story about creativity and how creativity is a power that everybody has innately and that a lot of people unlearn as they get older. And what’s so fun about hanging out with kids and making movies for kids is that they haven’t unlearned that yet. So we’re basically going to try to do the super funny, entertaining version of conveying the message that creativity that you unlearned you can learn again.
Oh I completely get that. Let’s jump into… because I could obviously ask you more Lego questions but I don’t want to cause you to spill the beans if you will.
Phil Lord: (laughter)
So basically the plan is you guys do 21 Jump Street and then Lego after that.
Phil Lord: Afterwards, yeah. Yeah, Jump Street is our first priority and then once we make an awesome movie out of that hopefully, then we’ll go onto Lego.
Phil Lord: (laughter) That’s true. I went to the Santa Monica High School prom and I met the Prom Queen. I have a picture. It was a great night.
If I’m not mistaken, because people were re-Tweeting what you were saying, you were like Tweeting live who’s going to win certain awards stuff like that.
Phil Lord: (Laughter) Yeah it was fun. I mean it was a little bit weird being part of somebody else’s prom because you sort of feel like you were intruding but the kids were so nice and we’ve been there the week before..been to Santa Monica High School just to hang out with the kids and look around and stuff. They were really gracious to let us look around. And they were so nice inviting us to the prom and letting us spend time there. So we actually hung out with some kids from the school newspaper that were there covering the prom and they were like the only other people that were there without dates that weren’t like actually participating. So we were able to get the scoop from them. And then Chris and I got to experience what it’s like to not be one of the cool kids because afterwards there’s all these after-parties that the kids through. We were like oh man that would be amazing research if we could get into one of those. And we failed miserably. (laughter) Nobody wanted us there.
That’s very, very funny.
Phil Lord: Also this other weird thing that happened which is that Jon Voight was for some reason like kind of wandering around in the lobby of the, I think it was the Beverly Hilton. That’s where the Golden Globes are right? It was the same room that we were in for the Golden Globes like in February. And he was just kind of like hanging around chatting up people and stuff. It was really weird. It was a very surreal night.
I cannot even imagine what it would be like to go back to high school like this, which is sort of I guess the 21 Jump Street kind of thing. So how did that help your writing? Did you guys make any changes after, you know, or offer any… how did that possibly effect the script that night of discourse?
Phil Lord: Well, details of that scene in the script takes place partially at the prom and so when we were working on that with Michael Bacall, who’s this awesome writer, we were able to… he also went to a prom a year ago to do similar research so we were able to like poll all of our details that we noticed and kind of put them into the script. One thing that seems universal is the kids dance extremely dirty. Much dirtier than I remember. And that was a big part of the script and then there’s a lot of other like smaller details like I kept seeing this security guard in the prom like just lingering around the food buffet and just kind of when no one was looking like grabbing donuts and stuff. I thought that was kind of weird. And there was another… a DJ from the prom had a … I can’t remember the woman’s name but she’s like a local radio DJ and she had like a … oh man I wish I could remember her name right now… anyway she had her DJ name as a sample and… Charisma is her name. She kept pushing the sample so like the whole prom like 100 times the sample of “Charisma” kept playing. Sort of like oh my God. That’s the most annoying thing in the world. So we put in a DJ that does that.
You guys… when did you say you start filming this again? The 21 Jump Street.
Phil Lord: We are planning to film at the start of 2011.
Right. And you already have, if I’m not mistaken, an August 2011 release date?
Phil Lord: I think it is… I think they moved it. It’s now in early 2012. I think it might be January.
Yeah, I might be mistaken. I might be looking at an older article on the site right now. So what’s been interesting is that I believe Jonah has been saying about the film… he describes it as a John Hughes movies with Bad Boys style action.
Phil Lord: (laughter) Yeah, that’s right.
So when he says stuff like that, is that sort of like how daunting is that? Because John Hughes, Bad Boys, it’s like he’s reaching for some A-level stuff here.
Phil Lord: Yeah, you can’t do half of… you can’t do like a pretty good John Hughes movie combined with some crazy action. You have to like… when you try to do a mash up like that you have to do a kick-ass action movie on top of an amazing heartbreaking John Hughes movie. You know what I mean? You have to go all-out on both. And that is super hard. But that’s the ambition that all of us have going into the movie and Chris and I came out of the project that was one of the things that got us really excited about it because it sounds crazy. It sounds like a really challenging thing to do. Again, it’s like that thing that I don’t know if I’ve seen somebody do that yet.
Are you guys… is there any pressure to possibly do this in 3D or is it a definite 2D release?
Phil Lord: I think it’s a 2D release. I think when you probably balance it all out there’s probably the speed and savings of going 2D is probably… outweighs the 3D stuff.
And getting back to like the whole John Hughes aspect of this, so does that mean that it’s like… I guess what makes your 21 Jump Street like a John Hughes… how can it be talked about as a John Hughes type movie? What’s that kind of catch in it?
Phil Lord: Well, you’re talking about like 2 cops, you know, youngish cops who go back into a high school and then start to relive it all these issues that they had when they went to high school originally. And so it winds up becoming this really sweet coming of age story except the guys that are coming of age are in their early 20’s instead of 17 and 18. So it’s still kind of that thing of watching 2 guys who really have had a delayed adolescence let’s say. You know, really grow up and become men and become better friends. I mean it really winds up being about character comedy and character relationships and you know a lot of buddy comedies aren’t like that. They’re really about a relationship between 2 guys and what can that be like? And so part of it what was exciting about it especially for Chris and I being a 2-man team talking about like how do guys relate to each other in this day and age? And how can you have like… we’re also sort of talking about it like it’s kind of a story of a marriage, you know? A lot of those funny cop movies are kind of like that. They’re guys that get thrown together and have to work out a working relationship. But for Chris and I that was kind of exciting because that’s kind of the story of our partnership, too.
Now obviously Jonah is in it. Have you guys already started figuring out the rest of the cast?
Phil Lord: We’re still working on another casting piece. And still trying to figure that out. There’s a lot of amazing options. Jonah, obviously one of the funniest people of his generation, an amazing comedian and a great actor. I don’t know if you’re seen Cyrus yet. He’s awesome in that.
He is awesome in Cyrus.
Phil Lord: He’s so good and it’s just showing so many different shades like between that and Get Him to the Greek and Super Bad like I feel like that’s a comedian that can have more than one shade and that’s what you want in somebody that’s going to help you carry a movie. Plus he’s such a good writer. He’s so funny. He really has like a fresh sensibility. I think all that stuff is going to help make the movie feel really fresh.
So basically you guys have been meeting with people to play opposite Jonah? You just haven’t figured out who you’re going with?
Phil Lord: That is a fair assumption.
I’ll go out there on a ledge. Now obviously there’s certain people… certain actors that have been like in iconic roles in high school movies. You know whether it be back in the 80’s or you know whatever. Is there any sort of thought of having some of the teachers in the high school be from previous like high school based films?
Phil Lord: Oh that’s interesting. We haven’t talked about other casting yet. We’re sort of trying to nail down our 2 cops first. But that’s totally a great idea actually. But you get like the cast of Fast Times or whatever and have them now play teachers.
Yeah, or from Breakfast Club.
Phil Lord: Yeah, totally.
Just throwing that out there, you know?
Phil Lord: I’m in. I’m in.
I expect a “thank you” in the end of the credits.
Phil Lord: Absolutely. We would be blessed to have actors of that caliber.
So my one question about the action in the film, obviously you guys haven’t exactly directed Bad Boys type action—live action. Are there certain films or certain… how are you sort of preparing for that?
Phil Lord: We’re watching a ton of action movies. We’re going to storyboard the film heavily. In a way those action sequences are similar to what you’d do in animation. Obviously like our own experience on Cloudy is relevant because those were some pretty elaborate action sequences there. They required a lot of care, a lot of pre-visualization. We used some live action storyboard artists on that film and they’re really helpful in teaching us a lot about what it’s like to execute an action sequence. So a lot of that previous experience comes to bear and then just being a fan of the genre and watching those movies gives us a lot of inspiration.
Have you guys already figured out who you’re going to get to shoot the movie?
Phil Lord: No. I wish. I have a long wish list. But obviously it would be really exciting to have somebody who’s been on some of those high octane movies before.
Now how does that work at the studio level? Do you sort of go in there and say, “we’re looking at these cinematographers” or does the studio come back at you and say, “here’s some of the people. Who do you want from this list?” How does that work?
Phil Lord: I’ll let you know.
Okay, there we go. (laughter) And so you obviously haven’t figured out then anybody for scoring or any of the other kind of things?
Phil Lord: No it’s so early still, yeah. We’re still doing re-writes and we haven’t started pre-production yet and it’s still a little bit of a ways out to figure that stuff.
Okay, because you never know. It’s always…
I’m curious how that actually all works. That’s something I don’t know about.
Phil Lord: Me, too. I’ll keep you posted. How about that. I promise to give you an answer to what’s my experience on…
I do appreciate that. Is there anything about 21 Jump Street or the Lego movie that I haven’t asked that you want people to know?
Phil Lord: That’s a good question. You know, I mean basically… no I think I basically got everything out. You know there’s a Lego thing, I just want people to know that it’s not going to be a soft movie. It’s going to be a pretty bad-ass version of a Lego movie. And I promise it’s not going to feel like a sellout. I think like the thing everyone’s come up with is really original and the brand is such a beloved and very cool brand like all the way up to the very top people that we’ve been able to meet at the Lego Company. We’re just really pumped up about the project.
I am too actually. I love Lego. I’m really hoping you guys nail this thing.
Phil Lord: Yeah. I hope so too. It’s a tall order.
Oh, one last thing, what’s up with the Cloudy sequel?
Phil Lord: Sony Animation has been great and we’re excited to be working with them again by exec producing the Cloudy Sequel – we have a great team lined up, including a few people who were critical to making the original and are far more talented than we are; we’ve got a killer story that expands on all the possibilities of the original and is super duper funny. Sort of Avatar with food. We’ve already seen some artwork and it’s gorgeous and very very weird. We’re all working on a treatment together with a writer who is way way smarter and funnier than us.