Zach Woods crushed the robot improv game while recording for “The Lego Ninjago Movie”

September 27, 2017

Where animated films are concerned, voice actors often end up recording solo. Such was the case with The Lego Ninjago Movie, but the actors (fortunately!) got to spend some time together in the recording booth.

Where animated films are concerned, voice actors often end up recording solo. Such was the case with The Lego Ninjago Movie, but the actors (fortunately!) got to spend some time together in the recording booth.

And with this group of extraordinary comedians, you bet a lot of improv came out of that. You can see some of that in the film, when the ninjas spend time with evil warlord Garmadon — and when Zach Woods gets into his robot talk as Zane.

Here, the cast tells HelloGiggles about the experience of recording some of those improvised bits together for The Lego Ninjago Movie.


DAVE FRANCO (LLOYD)

“I was in the recording booth with Justin Theroux a handful of times, which was really fun because when you’re in the room together, you’re able to improvise with each other and go off-book a little bit. Some of the best stuff comes when you do that, and a couple of my favorite scenes from the movie were entirely improvised. We had one day where we recorded with the entire cast, and that was pretty incredible. I remember at one point I decided to just sit down and watch everyone as a fan, because there’s so many great improvisers in this cast, and they were just let loose. They were going off, and I was just in awe and it was very inspiring.”

The Lego Ninjago Movie
Greg Doherty / Getty Images

ABBI JACOBSON (NYA)

“Most of the records I did solo, but there was one day where we were all in the studio together and it was kind of incomparable to the rest of the recording just because there are all these big personalities, incredible improvisers. We all, at that point, knew the characters so well. I think it would have been a little bit more difficult to [record together] in the beginning because we had over a year of being these characters already.”

FRED ARMISEN (COLE)

“We did have one day where we all recorded together. It was pretty great, especially Zach Woods, who I’ve never worked with before. I mean, everyone is great but I had never worked with him before. God, he’s so funny. It’s insane. Zach had to make up sort of robotic talk. He [plays] this robot who just states facts. His rhythm, his pace of doing it, it was so strangely perfect. It was so funny. It’s almost like he rehearsed it, but I don’t know how he would have been able to.”

the lego ninjago movie nya
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

ZACH WOODS (ZANE)

“You feel like a crazy person when you’re recording voiceover, because you’re in a dark room by yourself making sounds like a lunatic. But when there’s other people there, it feels at least marginally more sane. But with the cast, it’s so funny and so playful and so sweet. It felt like a little holiday. Also, it’s fun when you’re improvising together, when there’s other people acting normal, it’s fun to react to them from the perspective of the robot. Like, it’s easy to improvise when that’s the dynamic. It gives you sort of a game to play.”

KUMAIL NANJIANI (JAY)

“I didn’t know Michael [Peña], and I didn’t know Justin, but I’ve known everybody else. With Fred, I’d done Portlandia every season so him I knew. With Zach, it’s Silicon Valley. With Abbi, I did an episode of Broad City, so I’ve sort of worked with them separately, but it’s interesting when there’s a group. Even if you’ve worked with these people individually, the group dynamics are so different. So it’s really exciting to all be in the same room together and improvise, and they can actually animate around what we were saying. So we could make something up and they’d be like, ‘Put it in the movie.’”

The Lego Ninjago Movie is currently in theaters.

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