Pratt and Banks: We wanted to expand outward, which is why we go into space
Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks reunite for a sequel to the 2014 hit The Lego Movie and talk to Laura Harding about their childhood, their own children and making the second film bigger and better than the first
Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks are seated in the far corner of a hotel ballroom, surrounded by Lego.
It's a room so cavernous that one might expect them to break out into a dance routine at a moment's notice, perhaps co-ordinated with the brightly coloured bricks.
"I have a sick waltz game," Pratt jokes, as he takes in the vastness of the space.
And Pratt has such a golden touch at the moment that it wouldn't be surprising if this were true.
He has enjoyed box office hits with the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Avengers films, the Jurassic World franchise and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the 2014 film The Lego Movie.
Set in the world of the colourful bricks beloved by children around the world, the film was a hit with audiences and critics alike, to the surprise of many people except Pratt, and is now back for a sequel.
"I was absolutely not surprised at how well received this film was because when I saw it I just knew that we had something really, really special," he says.
"And we have taken every bit of these past five years to craft and polish the movie until it is good enough to live up to the promise of the first movie."
"And I pat myself on the back," he jokes. "I did it. Wrote, directed, produced, starred, cast, did every voice, did 500 voices, all the animation, all the stop motion and it was not tiring for me.
"It took a full day - I took lunch because I wanted to hang out with Channing Tatum when he came to do the voice of Superman but that was only like 10 minutes of it."
Gags aside, the film was in fact once again penned by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were responsible for the first outing as well as Oscar contender Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and was directed by Shrek Forever After and Trolls filmmaker Mike Mitchell.
In the sequel, it's five years since a surprise Duplo invasion reduced Lego city Bricksburg to a wasteland of rubble and now Pratt's optimistic Emmet must once again find his inner hero to save his pals, including Banks as his beloved Wyldstyle.
"We didn't want to make a movie that just rehashes all the best bits of the first movie - we wanted to expand outward, which is why we go into space," 39-year-old Pratt says.
"It expands cosmically and there are a lot more meta messages and more thematic messages about growing up."
Indeed, the first film, which boasted a voice cast including Alison Brie, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Charlie Day and Morgan Freeman, included surprising live-action segments that show a young boy creating his Lego world at home.
The second film expands on that premise, this time showing young Finn clashing with his younger sister Bianca.
"We both have siblings and both fought over toys and about what was fair and what was someone's fault and all those things," Banks (44) says.
"I even put blue tape across the room, like this is my side, and that is your side.
"But this is about reaching across that tape, building a bridge, a Lego bridge! And about being loving and open and generous and kind."
The pair are also both parents to young children - Pratt to son Jack with his ex-wife Anna Faris, and Banks to sons Magnus and Felix with her husband Max Handelman - and it's fair to say their roles in the films have earned them brownie points at home.
Pratt says: "I know our children in particular - not that we have made together, we each have our own children - they love Lego, they go crazy for it.
"The fact that their parents work in the Lego film gets us major cred, not just from them but also from their friends, from their school.
"If they need to do a fundraiser, you can kick down a box of Lego and they sell it for like $5,000, it's amazing."
And about to up her cred with kids is Tiffany Haddish (39), who joins the cast of the franchise as the shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi, ruler of the Systar System.
An ever-changing mass of multi-coloured bricks that assume any configuration she wants, from big to small, from cute and familiar to strange and intimidating, she proves to be a powerful adversary for Emmet and his friends. "She is constantly on the move, thinking and planning," Haddish says. "She has a whole solar system to rule and she always has to be 10 steps ahead to keep everyone happy and everything together. So her physical form changes all the time to keep pace with her ideas. You never know what she's really up to, or what she's going to look like next."
While Haddish is best known for her comedy turns in Girls Trip and Night School, Queen Watevra gives her the chance to show off a new skill - singing.
"I do sing from time to time, and if Will Arnett (who returns as Lego Batman) sings something then I will sing, but I had to take vocal lessons for this.
"Through Groupon," she adds, "Groupon vocal lessons. The first one is like $42 and then after that the studio needs to pay."
What is the calibre of a singing lesson you buy on a daily deal website, one might wonder?
"It was bad at first," she jokes. "It was in my car. I had to pick him up at the corner and then I drove the teacher home."
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is in UK cinemas now