‘LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales’ Writer David Shayne and Director Ken Cunningham on Christian Slater, Poe Dameron’s Swagger, and More

The LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales arrives at present simply in time for Halloween (for these of us who observe the spooky vacation your entire month of October). Similar to the LEGO Star Wars Vacation Particular final 12 months, Terrifying Tales is a real deal with for Star Wars followers. The movie is full of intelligent homages to basic horror movies, zombie battle droids, and Poe Dameron and BB-8 on an epic spooky journey.

I had the prospect to speak with author David Shayne and director Ken Cunningham about working on Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales, the movie’s Easter eggs, Christian Slater, and in fact Ben Solo.

Maggie Lovitt: So proper out of the gate, I need to say that the Terrifying Tales and the Vacation Particular have been the balm that soothed my grief after The Rise of Skywalker. Ben Solo is one in all my favourite characters and I completely love what each of you’ve achieved with him in each of those films. When it comes to his backstory with Ren which Vaneé tells in Terrifying Tales, how did you come about this sort of reimagined model? I do know [part of] it’s in Charles Soule’s comics.

David Shayne: Yeah, that is actually right. So once we have been growing the particular we needed to do type of three mini-stories, type of Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” type. We needed one from every of the time intervals so once we have been circling in on the sequel trilogy, we simply felt like Ben was such a pure.

And also you’re completely proper, I am actually impressed such as you zoomed in [on that]. They delve slightly bit with Ben and Ren and their relationship within the comics and we type of used that as a springboard. As I feel you noticed, we type of leaped off and did a little bit of a Misplaced Boys factor from there.

Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

Lovitt: My thoughts was blown when Christian Slater was introduced because the voice of Ren. So how did he find yourself getting solid in that position?

Shayne: We have been in search of somebody who might do principally a terrific 80s film villain. It seems (not surprisingly) Christian like lots of people is an enormous Star Wars fan. He was such a terrific sport. Ken, you bear in mind he was beneath the blankets?

Ken Cunningham: Yeah, it was so superior. He was simply tremendous good. I imply, he stored eager to do extra. It was nice. I suppose he had truly even reached out, he had been eager to do one thing. I feel he’d even reached out earlier than this position got here up, similar to, “I might love to do something.”

Shayne: Lindsay Halper, who’s our casting director, [we] put in these asks to her and she simply reaches out and will get us these fantastic individuals once more and once more.

Lovitt: Ken, have been you in a position to direct them within the studio or was all of it like over Zoom?

Cunningham: It was throughout [Zoom]. We have got Mary, our voice director, and David, the opposite exec producer, and [Christian Slater] there beneath a blanket with a microphone. It was Brady Bunch, you recognize?

Shayne: Ken, you are actually proper there have been like 9 or ten of us by the point [we] had all people. It really works surprisingly nicely. Frankly, given the type of craziness, that was deep within the coronary heart of the pandemic, I bear in mind Lucasfilm needed to ship a sound package over to him. I feel I described to you, he is principally beneath an enormous blanket that was his recording sales space.

Cunningham: This has been the best way that we have directed each specials for essentially the most half. I imply, we have been within the studio for the start of the Vacation Particular, however I feel if I bear in mind timeline-wise, I feel we have been into format or possibly we have been simply ending up animatic. That is the best way I have been directing stuff for fairly some time now.

Lovitt: Has that modified the way you direct in any respect?

Cunningham: Perhaps, I imply communication turns into actually, actually vital. Once I was within the studio, I might simply stand up [and] go onto the ground and speak to individuals every time I needed. Now you are reaching out by chat and by electronic mail and stuff. We do a whole lot of this. We make certain we’ve weekly conferences and then each different day, we’ve the entire manufacturing crew in a gathering.

Kickoffs like this [are] truly simpler than kicking off in say, a boardroom. Immediately I did an animation kickoff, the place [you can] share your display screen, deliver up the fabric you need to present, stroll them by stuff. It is type of simpler. I suppose after I return into the studio, we’ll most likely begin to use PowerPoint or regardless of the present finest software program to do this type of factor is. It is good to have the ability to visually present and share stuff [like] scenes you need them to emulate.

LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

Lovitt: Now David, one in all my different favourite components of Terrifying Tales was the entire Wookie’s Paw situation for Luke. I’d love to listen to the inventive course of that went into deciding the completely different parts. I cherished Leia and Obi-Wan surviving. 

Shayne: Oh, thanks. That is very form. It is humorous, Wookie’s Paw got here very early within the course of. I feel as I discussed, we needed to do three sorts of Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” sort tales. We knew [that] we needed one from of every of the three huge areas and that was the primary one which popped into my head. It was taking the framework of the basic monkey’s paw story and simply turning on its head. That story everyone knows: “Watch out what you want for.”

We simply thought nicely, “Luke desires to be a pilot. What if he winds up being a pilot for the Empire?” I imply, I suppose that chance all the time existed so it was simply actually fascinating to see what would occur when Luke breaks dangerous and then you definately simply begin to work backward. I simply felt like, “Okay, nicely he ought to nonetheless blow up the Loss of life Star. What is the worst factor you can do for those who have been a member of the Empire? It could be to explode the Loss of life Star. Work backward from there.

Then I spotted, nicely, gosh! Perhaps Obi-Wan would have saved Leia an entire completely different method or she would have saved him. Then they might be within the fleet collectively. I used to be like, “Oh, nice, we will have Leia main the entire raid on the Loss of life Star.” It simply all labored backward from there and it was tremendous enjoyable. That was the primary one [and] this stuff are slightly modular. So that you form of do every one and that was the primary one which got here to thoughts. It got here collectively actually quick.

Lovitt: Properly, it was tremendous enjoyable to observe as nicely.

Shayne: Thanks. Properly, passing alongside compliments, Ken crushed it. Right here you might be recreating essentially the most iconic of iconic moments in Star Wars and flipping it on its head. It is humorous, I used to be rewatching it lately and I spotted [that] even Michael Kramer, our composer, was doing little refined issues and messing with the music and placing a few of it in a minor key. All of us have been taking part in with this sort of we’re in a bizarro world right here.

Cunningham: Yeah. Like the place’s the road of simply straight reference versus twisting it?

Lovitt: On the subject of recreating these iconic moments, whenever you’re working with a serious IP like Star Wars and even Marvel, what’s the key factor that you simply bear in mind whenever you’re approaching it by a LEGO lens? 

Cunningham: Oh, that is a terrific query. Properly, I imply, that is the important thing.  I consider it as if I am doing it by a lens. I am not doing it by a bit of software program or animation. I simply seize my fantasy to do live-action basically, I channel that, and I simply attempt to deal with it prefer it’s an precise movie. I run a set, we’re taking pictures on a set, they’re actual actors. So I attempt to use these constraints to some extent.

CG animation can get a bit disconnected from real-world filmmaking as a result of you are able to do no matter you need with the digital camera, however I wish to anchor it. Clearly, there are very established issues inside these manufacturers that you simply need to hit, however then what’s nice in regards to the LEGO stuff is that there is license to essentially play. Taking one thing like the ditch run, like okay watch it, reference it in locations, however then I’ve acquired this nice script from David the place I can deviate and elevate the supplies.

Shayne: I all the time type of joke that I consider LEGO Star Wars as being canon adjoining. We honor canon, we honor these characters, however we’re clearly requested to and need to put a LEGO spin on it and make them humorous. Even with this one, I assumed we have been pushing it even additional as a result of we had the Halloween lens that allows you to go to an much more bizarro place.

You may have Vaneé telling these tales which are ghost tales that we do not know in the event that they’re true. Vaneé’s type of making them up and utilizing them to control our primary characters. It simply gave us an unlimited quantity of room to play and kudos to Lucasfilm as a result of they stored pushing us and saying, “Yeah, we will try this. Let’s do extra.”

Once more, I preserve considering of the soundtrack. When Michael Kramer turned in his first model of the rating on the “Misplaced Boy” and we [were] like “Yeah! Much more 80s! More synth!” He was like, “Did I do an excessive amount of synth?” Like, “No, no. More is sweet.” It is simply everyone seems to be type of like “How far can we push this factor?” and it is simply such a blast. It is a lot enjoyable to get to do.

LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

Lovitt: I like the 80s influences and I additionally cherished the allusion to The Shining, which I assumed was simply the right Halloween time reference. Are there some other references in Terrifying Tales that you simply hope that followers discover once they’re watching?

Cunningham: So many.

Shayne: Oh man, I imply what it actually was attempting to place a bunch of Easter eggs. So that you caught The Shining references. Even within the Grievous and Maul story, you need to get slightly little bit of a Frankenstein really feel. It is actually type of simply feeling these little moments wherever you may. The battle droids are basically a zombie military, in order that’s a Strolling Lifeless homage or Night time of the Dwelling Lifeless. It is all of that. So it was wherever that we might do it, we simply stored asking ourselves the place we will discover these issues.

Cunningham: Yeah, completely. In my means of attempting to determine it out visually, I clearly watched a bunch of stuff, however I watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula once more. That actually, for me, informs the general look and strategy. Being very theatrical with the lighting, not being actual world. When Vaneé begins to inform a narrative, we kick up a inexperienced mild from beneath. The place the hell does that come from? It does not matter. It is the stage. That was an enormous reference for me.

Lovitt: Now, Terrifying Tales is a really Drive-heavy story. How did you arrive at Poe being the principle character, somewhat than pulling from characters like Finn or Rose or Rey?

Shayne: Oh, that is a terrific query. , it is humorous, I feel it is good to have some distinction. After we did the Vacation Particular, we had actually centered on Rey. I feel what kind of occurred [is] you are speaking about Halloween and you are speaking about concern.

To us, Poe is essentially the most swaggery of swaggery characters. To me, I all the time suppose that is form of an fascinating factor. Like, at what level is that swagger an act and the place is that actual? Generally that is the best way we cowl up our concern. So it is actually type of exploring that and what’s fascinating is, for Poe, we type of break him down slightly bit. He type of begins on the top of tremendous cocky [and] it is truly him pulling this loopy maneuver that will get him crash touchdown on the planet within the first place.

Then getting him to confess, “Yeah, generally what I do is I put on this ahead and I put on this courageous face and that is how I get by the day.” It is the road that he has, “With out concern, you may’t have braveness.” He acknowledges that for Dean. That actually was what made Poe the pure [choice]. Ranging from the swagger and then placing him in actually scary conditions.

LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

Lovitt: Dean can be such a enjoyable character. How did you give you that character? Was he only a good foil and restore man for Poe?

Shayne: Yeah, he was an excellent foil and it’s good in Star Wars to have a child’s entry and a child’s perspective in LEGO Star Wars. He simply felt like a terrific distinction. Dean will get to go on his journey of kinds, studying to cope with concern as he type of learns from his hero Poe and figures all that out. He was only a actually candy child and Rafael Alejandro who performed him simply killed it

Lovitt: He is such an excellent actor.

Shayne: I am unable to even convey how pure he’s. I imply, Ken, he popped within the studio he barely wanted [anything].

Cunningham: He was.

Shayne: So candy. So recreation. [He] simply captured it. I imply, we heard his audition, [and he] was good. He actually introduced an unlimited quantity of life to that character.

Lovitt: Now for my final query, are both of you in a position to tease some other upcoming LEGO tasks? Is there anything on the horizon? I do know I’d love Valentine’s Day LEGO Star Wars. Simply saying.

Shayne: , I all the time joke [that] I have been attempting to persuade them to allow us to do an Arbor Day particular.

Lovitt: I had a LEGO tree set as a child so that completely works.

Cunningham: I am completely there with David if he does that.

Shayne: In the event that they ask I’ll present up. I’d do that for so long as they might foolishly have me. Attending to work with Ken is the very best.

LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales is streaming now on Disney+. 

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Maggie Lovitt is a author at Techspit the place she covers her favourite matters: Star Wars and popular culture nerdery.

In her free time, she can be a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Display screen Actors Guild.

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