Meet the voices behind The Lego Ninjago Movie
The Lego Ninjago Movie has a large cast who get along
After the success of 2014's The Lego Movie and this year's The Lego Batman Movie comes The Lego Ninjago Movie.
It had a splashy preview at San Diego's film-geek convention Comic-Con in July.
The voice cast assembles in one of the cavernous halls at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel in front of the press, ostensibly to answer questions, but more to joke around with each other.
And it's a large one: We have Dave Franco (Lloyd/Green Ninja), Michael Peña (Kai/Red Ninja), Fred Armisen (Cole/Black Ninja), Kumail Nanjiani (Jay/Blue Ninja), Abbi Jacobson (Nya), Zach Woods (Zane/White Ninja), Justin Theroux (Garmadon) and Olivia Munn (Garmadon's ex-wife and Lloyd's mum Koko).
In the animated action comedy, which opens here tomorrow, Lloyd and his secret ninja force, aided by the wise - and wisecracking - leader Master Wu (Jackie Chan), must save Ninjago City by defeating the evil warlord Garmadon, who happens to be Lloyd's father.
Though the story has the complicated father-son dynamic at its centre, it is also about the family you make and the importance of teamwork.
Hong Kong superstar Chan, who was not present at Comic-Con, choreographed all the fight sequences along with his stunt team, and the action bears his trademark kicks, flips and jumps, along with his sense of humour.
"You can create all kinds of movement, all kinds of impossible things, and through the animation, make it 10 times better and more fun. This way I don't have to do my own stunts, and no one gets hurt," the 63-year-old was quoted as saying in the production notes.
There was a stunt double for all the actors and the stunt team actually did all the fights.
Then the animators watched the action and reproduced it as animation in the movie, making it the first time any animated movie has incorporated real martial arts into animation.
US actor Theroux, 46, said he loves the element of comedy in all of Chan's big-screen fights.
He says: "So his brand really lends itself to what we did in this movie. The action sequences were allowed to be silly."
Munn, in particular, is a huge fan.
The 37-year-old US actress, whose Vietnamese mum is of Chinese descent, says: "You see in all his movies, he struggles, he's getting beaten down. And then at the very end, when all of his will seems like it's broken, it brings him back, gets him to fight to save himself. It's got to be something that's in his heart.
"And that's something that's always fascinated me and I've admired about his work.
"Being Asian, in that culture, it's within yourself."
US actor Franco, 32, says that he always dressed as a ninja for Halloween when he was a kid. Coincidentally, his US actress-wife Alison Brie voiced Unikitty in The Lego Movie.
He says: "Our friend's kid is obsessed with Lego. And so he found out that she was Unikitty. And then when he found out that I was the Green Ninja, he kind of paused, really tried to process what that meant. He finally said, 'So, Unikitty loves Green Ninja?' And it was the sweetest thing we've ever heard and we say it to each other all the time now."
Peña's eight-year-old son is a huge Lego Ninjago fan, and that was the reason the 41-year-old US actor took on the role of hot-headed Kai.
"We watched every single episode of this thing. He knows all the backstory, he's got books on it. He literally just came back from a Lego conference. We have a room that is just for Legos because he just loves them."
Pakistani-American actor-comedian Nanjiani, 39, jokes about his quiet, cautious Jay.
"He is the most handsome of the ninjas. Very handsome. With the most handsome voice of all of the ninjas. He's the coolest. His skin is still not the colour of my skin, so that's part of it too.
"He's a very emotional guy. He gets scared when there's danger. His first reaction is paralysed fear, but then his second reaction is paralysed fear. And then he acts, and then he does the right thing.
"And he's sort of in love with Nya. He doesn't think anyone knows... everybody knows. And he can't quite get the courage to sort of confess his love to her."
Woods, Nanjiani's co-star in the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, plays the robot Zane who has aspirations to be a normal teen.
The 32-year-old US actor-comedian deadpans: "He's sort of emotionally remote and distant, but wants to feel connected to people. So it's also a fairly autobiographical role for me."
Portraying "The Worst Guy Ever" for Theroux - who usually tackles serious, intense material like TV drama The Leftovers and last year's mystery thriller The Girl On The Train - was "really fun" because "(Garmadon) doesn't know his son is the Green Ninja".
"And they learn through the course of the movie that Lloyd is actually his nemesis, along with the other ninjas. He's a complete narcissist, an awful guy."