I went to LEGOland for the first time to cover the press junket for The LEGO Ninjago Movie. I stayed in a pirate room and got to see other Egyptian adventure themed rooms going from room to room interviewing the stars of the film. First up was Dave Franco who was equally impressed by LEGOland.

Franco plays Lloyd, the son of the villain Garmadon. Garmadon doesn’t know his son is the Green Ninja who leads the ninjas that foil each of his evil plans. They’re going to get a lot closer when a new adventure forces them to work together. The LEGO Ninjago Movie opens September 22 and we’ll have more interviews this week on Nerd Report.

Nerd Report: Have you ever been to LEGOland before?

Dave Franco: First time.

NR: Mine too.

Dave Franco: Yeah, what do you think?

NR: This is the most adorable hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

Dave Franco: It’s kind of surreal. It really is a kid’s dream.

NR: Are you staying in one of the rooms?

Dave Franco: I am not. They did not put us up here. Were you a huge LEGO fan as a kid?

NR: I think so.

Dave Franco: I think we all were at some point, right?

NR: I don’t think there was as much variety when I was a kid.

Dave Franco: I’m sure. I was just hearing the rooms were $500-700 a night. You’re really doing your kids a solid.

NR: Do you get to play with LEGOs while you’re making a LEGO movie?

Dave Franco: If you want to. No one’s stopping you. They definitely didn’t have LEGO kits in the recording booth with us but I probably would’ve played around with it if they did.

NR: What does it mean to you to do a movie that’s really for the whole family?

Dave Franco: It’s fun. Again, one of the brilliant things about these movies is that they play equally well to my nephews who are all under the age of five, as they do to my friends who are in their 30s. That’s a fine line to walk and something that’s very difficult to pull off but they do it really well. When I was recording, every joke, even if it’s technically a joke for kids, it’s really clever and well thought out and character driven. It never felt like I was doing a silly kids movie. It feels like I was performing for my friends who are my age. Just the jokes happen to work for all ages too.

NR: Did you do your own fight noises?

Dave Franco: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I remember they wanted me to do dragon noises for my dragon mech and they literally had me say “roar.” That did not make it in the movie, probably for the best. That was my scary dragon noise.

NR: You’re not only Lloyd, you’re the voice of the mech too?

Dave Franco: Exactly, I should be getting paid more.

NR: They always film your voice recording. Is it harder to see yourself in a LEGO minifigure?

Dave Franco: I think more than anything it’s a testament to the creative team behind these movies because essentially you’re watching these plastic figures that can’t move in many different ways. Yet, these movies elicit so many emotions from the audience. The writers and everyone involved really make very defined characters that you immediately fall in love with. Again, this is all working with plastic figures where they only have a handful of facial expressions.

NR: Do you see any of your expressions in Lloyd?

Dave Franco: That’s interesting. They claim that they tried to match my smile in a way. I don’t see it but if you ever watch the movie again, maybe look out for that. I think they’re conscious about trying to infuse some of our own physical traits and gestures into the characters.

NR: You may not have had a famous father but did your brother James have a reputation that preceded you in school?

Dave Franco: In school? Definitely in the industry. It’s been a double edged sword where he helped me get a manager which I don’t take for granted but from there on out, no one was going to hire me because I was his little brother and I didn’t want anybody to hire me for that reason. I’ve been trying to carve my own path for a long time now. I made a conscious decision to distance myself from him work-wise because I didn’t want everyone to associate me with him whenever I was working on a project. It took many, many years but I finally got to a point where I was like, “Screw it. I love my brother. We have very similar sensibilities. We work well together.” So we just started collaborating together recently. It’s been really fun.

NR: Did you go to the same schools as James?

Dave Franco: Yeah, yeah, we went to all the same schools growing up except he went to UCLA and I went to USC.

NR: Were you far enough a part that there was no shadow over you?

Dave Franco: Yeah, he’s seven years older than me. We were never actually in the same school at the same time.

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