Yes, Australia, the US has already gotten the mostly-made-in-Australia The LEGO Batman Movie, but it will be with us shortly… In the meantime, here’s a round-table we attended with funny guys Will Arnett (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Zach Galifianakis (Joker).
You’re looking very tanned, have you just come back from somewhere?
Zach Galifianakis: You know Will has a traveling tanning booth, right? It’s in the lobby if you want to go take a look at it.
Will Arnett: There’s an app, WillArnett.net… no, I’m doing a Ted Talk about tanning later. It’s funny, I’ve been in Wales for two months, I’m not kidding, and I got back Saturday morning. No joke, shooting G-Force 2 there.
ZG: Have you really been in Wales?
WA: Yeah, until Saturday morning. I shot all night on Friday, got on a plane and met you at the thing.
ZG: A lot of great actors from that country.
WA: It’s was a small place, and it rains sideways there. I said to a guy the other day as we were down on this dock, and he was like, ‘do you like it here in Wales, are you enjoying it?’ I said, ‘yeah, but the weather is…’ He goes ‘yeah, the weather’s a little shit’. I go, ‘how is the suicide rate not ninety percent?’ It’s crazy! But it’s a great, beautiful place.
ZG: They read books!
WA: They do, they read books, and they drink beer.
Will, at what age did you realise that you could do the incredibly deep, gravelly voice? I know you’ve been doing it for years with commercials but was there a moment when you amused your family by doing this?
WA: My dad has a pretty deep voice; he’s always claimed that if anything happened to me he can take over as Batman. Like thanks a lot, but your son is dead, are you not worried about that?
ZG: Hey, yeah, Will died, but there’s some work around the corner! As soon as the funeral’s over…
WA: ‘Obviously we still respect him, our thoughts and prayers…’ But yeah, I don’t know, once I hit puberty it just kind of started to drop with everything else.
ZG: Did your parents feed you tarmac when you were a kid?
WA: No, but just for vitamins and stuff, we always had a steaming cup of crushed glass, in the morning, always. Which is two parts whiskey, two parts rusty nail, and – don’t write that down.
Which of your lines cracked you up the most? Which of the ones that you perhaps had some input into as well?
ZG: I think – when I watched the movie for the first time the other day, I had an ear infection, and I couldn’t hear a lot.
WA: Is that true?
ZG: Yeah, I couldn’t hear. But The Joker does this thing, I think I interpreted right with my hearing, where he’s trying to figure out a handshake or fist bump, it’s small. I think the smaller things I like more. I mean, it’s the ones that kind of fly by people are the ones that I’m more attracted to.
WA: Oh yeah, for sure. There’s a line when Bruce Wayne first meets Dick Grayson, Robin, and he says, at the event, ‘Hey, I’m Richard Grayson, I’m at the orphanage, but the kids call me Dick’, and Batman says almost under his breath, ‘kids can be so cruel’.
ZG: That’s in the movie, that’s in the cut right?
WA: It’s in the cut, you can barely hear it, it’s funny, and they’re – it’s funny, I read somebody online said ‘I like the movie, but I will say, my only complaint was there were too many jokes’. I was like, ‘you can’t get it right, you can never get it right.’ Too many jokes?
ZG: I laughed a little too much.
WA: I laughed too much! He actually said something along the lines of, ‘I laughed too much, I needed a break.’ Hold on, you needed a fucking break? Then go home! Okay! Our job is to put in as many jokes as possible!
Do you like lobster thermidor?
WA: I’ve never had it, I don’t think I’ve had it. What is lobster thermidor, how is that prepared?
WA: Oh yeah, then I’ve had it millions of times.
ZG: You put it in the microwave, yeah?
WA: Then I don’t ever remember a time not having lobster thermidor.
I wonder if they’ve put that in there as a personal joke or something.
WA: No, the lobster thermidor was in there.
Did you guys go to Animal Logic in Australia for any of it?
WA: I won’t go to Australia. Because it’s all the crooks and rejects from England.
ZG: I think the same of North Carolina, by the way.
WA: No, I didn’t, by the way, that’s a bit. Obviously I love Australia, it’s a nice place to grow a kangaroo. Why would I ruin it at the end?!
ZG: To grow a kangaroo.
WA: No, I was down there in June, I was going to go see those guys at Animal Logic and didn’t… I was at the Sydney Opera House, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, yeah, I saw Bon Iver there, close friends.
ZG: Really? What a blast he must be. What a fun – can anyone get me a friendship with Bon Iver?
WA: But I wanted to go to Animal Logic, because obviously those guys have done both these films. They’re incredible, the artists, what these guys do it’s off the charts. And what’s funny is…
ZG: That’s who you guys should be interviewing…
WA: No kidding, he’s right, those guys are like, artists, and the technology increases, but from the time they start the movie, to the time they finish, it’s like two and a half years. The technology has evolved, and changed, like five times in that time, and these guys are adapting to it, and incorporating it, and they’re just like cutting edge techniques, it’s amazing. When you watch when they animate the LEGO bottle, when the guys get on it or whatever, when you watch the way they do it, they’re lighting it, they’re moving it, every single thing, it’s all to scale, it’s incredible what they’re doing. And we just walk in in flip flops acting like a bunch of dummies.
The film makes a real meal out of the history of Batman on screen. Were any one of those incarnations particularly impactful for you? Did you have a definitive Batman or Joker growing up?
WA: I liked Michael Keaton a lot. Because he was kind of funny, and of course, Jack Nicholson.
ZG: That’s the one I always go to. That version of Batman, that live action one, is the most cartoony, but also the creepiest in a great way. It can also be spooky. And that’s the thing, what they do with Jack Nicholson’s makeup, is they put skin makeup over his – I don’t know if you remember that, that was very, very eerie. Jack Nicholson’s performance in that was so… there were so many non-sequiturs that were so wonderful, and if you listen to the Prince soundtrack of that movie, there’s great non-sequiturs throughout the whole soundtrack that Prince put in of Jack Nicholson’s voice. Jack Nicholson’s performance, because it was more over the top and cartoony, was the reason why he was more of an inspiration on this for me. That movie, the Tim Burton movie, is the one that really made an imprint on me.
WA: Yeah, me too, and for Batman, his Bruce Wayne to Batman was very different. They were very distinctive characters, and his growl wasn’t as deep or dark perhaps as Christian Bale’s, which is great, but it was very fresh. If you think about it this way, he and Tim Burton, they came up with that character, they started it. The idea that Batman (does gravelly voice) ‘talks like this, and he’s got this kind of’, and he lives in this world, that’s Michael Keaton, man. And that’s the Batman, that’s what we’ve come to take for granted now as Batman. He came up with that, and at the same time, when he was Bruce Wayne he was kind of playful, and a playboy, and Michael Keaton is obviously an amazing actor and doesn’t get enough credit, just because there have been so many other good Batmen, I guess.
What do your kids say when they hear your voices coming out of a LEGO villain, and a LEGO superhero, that has to be weird and wonderful, doesn’t it?
WA: They say, ‘Can I have my iPad?’
ZG: They usually just go, ‘You’re not my real dad’. My boy, he doesn’t know anything, he’s too young, and he doesn’t know this stuff, so there’s none of that yet.
WA: Is he five?
ZG: I think… what do you want from me? You want his birthday? But I will say this, the other day, I’m in this TV show, my picture was on the side of a bus, because it was advertising for this TV show, and my kid was like, he was eye-level, he could see it. So I look in the rear-view mirror to see what he’s doing. And he just looks at it, and he looks straight ahead, and goes *sigh* out the window. That’s all he did. No dialogue, he knew it was me, and he just sighed like ‘How long is this going to go on for?’ How long is my dad going to pretend?
WA: Yeah, my kids are a little bit older, six and eight, so they get it, and you know the boys are in it, Arch and Abel are the voices of the orphans when Batman goes to them, and they’re all ‘Batman, we love you, we love you!’ And so, it was just one day that they were there, we needed to get these voices, and they came to a few sessions, just like trying to make it fun, it was a couple of Saturday sessions, I was working, they were like ‘we get to go to the thing!’ Literally just because I couldn’t, it was Saturday, they didn’t have school, so they came with me.
ZG: And there’s no nepotism in Hollywood.
WA: No, but I mean, if I worked in an office and I had to go in on a Saturday I’d bring them there, and they’d do whatever people do in offices. But, and then we needed the voices for these kids, and Brad Lewis, one of the producers, and McKay, was on the other line in Australia, Skyping, and was just like, ‘well, let’s record them, we need these voices.’ So ‘alright, kids, want to do it?’ So my eight year old, he doesn’t want the attention, but my six year old Abel, I get up and I go, ‘You want to do this thing?’ And as I’m saying it, he passes me, gets up in the seat, and goes ‘just tell me what to say’. And gets up in the seat, and just waited.
ZG: Aw, how cute. Which one?
WA: No, the six year old, the red head, Abel.
ZG: I thought they were both?
WA: No, Archie’s blond, yeah. Fake blond, he dyes it. (laughs). Because he just got surgery.
ZG: On what?
WA: Plastic surgery. Because we live in Beverly Hills. I’ll give you the guy, yeah, he’s so good.
ZG: Oh my God, because my son has a birthmark…
WA: Oh, gross!
ZG: Right here on his lower back, it’s disgusting, it’s in the shape of India.
WA: Don’t print that stuff guys! Don’t print that!
What would Batman do if he visited the US these days?
ZG: It might be a political discussion.
WA: How do I…
ZG: He might not be allowed in. Where’s he from? No, Gotham’s an American city, right?
WA: Yeah, I guess so. I mean –
ZG: Is it supposed to be an international city, meaning anywhere in the world?
WA: I think that Batman would, look, anyone in their right mind would want to…
ZG: Go to America?
WA: Go to America and try to – one of the great messages of this film is that you can’t do it all by yourself, and that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and there’s a sort of a message of inclusiveness, and I think that that’s a really good message. I think by and large most Americans understand that, and I hope that they respond to that in the movie, I hope that that message goes through.
The LEGO Batman Movie is in cinemas from March 30, 2017