Why The LEGO Movie 2’s Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi Was A Real Challenge For Animators

Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi in The LEGO Movie 2 taking monster form

When it comes to animated characters, most of those featured in The LEGO Movies are pretty basic. They all have the same texture that covers their entire bodies, they all have the same basic shape, and their joint movements are extremely limited. It’s the beautiful simplicity of the LEGO Minifig – but that normal simplicity wasn’t present in the creation of Tiffany Haddish’s new character in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi. Instead, because she is an irregular creation, she was actually a sincere challenge to create, as I recently learned from animation director Trisha Gum:

Any Queen [Watevra Wa'Nabi] sequence was really difficult. She really is a pile of bricks, so she doesn't have one rig where she just has her arms and legs kind of move the same way. It's a huge challenge.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part recently held its domestic press day in Los Angeles, and it was while sitting down with Trisha Gum and director Mike Mitchell that I learned about the tricky task that was bringing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi to life. I specifically asked the two filmmakers about what they ultimately found to be the most challenging sequence to create, and they specifically highlighted any one that features the Tiffany Haddish character.

For those who haven’t seen any of the trailers for The LEGO Movie 2 or read about its plot, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi is the ruler of the Systar System, and isn’t represented as a normal minifig. Instead, she is a pile of brightly colored blocks that never stay in one particular formation for very long. When we first meet her in the movie she looks like a pony, but in an instant she can transform into a three-eyed, tentacled monster.

As noted by Trisha Gum, all of these shape changes create an issue because the animators can’t just use the same shape every time, and had to build her from scratch in every sequence. This was hard enough in normal scenes where she is featured just having conversations with other characters, but Gum also spotlighted the extra work that came with The LEGO Movie 2’s singing and dancing:

Especially the musical numbers, which were I will say the most fun, and my favorite scenes to work on. But they were challenging because you you've got a lot of moving pieces, and she has to strike these beautiful, powerful poses.

It’s worth noting that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi is the character who really kickstarts the musical aspects of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, so it’s almost as though writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller wanted to give his directors an extra challenge.

Adding to Trisha Gum’s comments, Mike Mitchell also added that the creation of the character was benefited from the help of builders from LEGO. According to Mitchell, many of the shapes that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi takes on in the film were inspired by the creations of artists from the toy company working with a select pile of bricks. The director explained,

All still using just the handful of Legos she's made out of. So it was pretty interesting. And the Lego people, the toy people, helped us out a lot too, to see how many shapes you guys came up with, with just the handful of Legos.

You can watch Trisha Gum and Mike Mitchell discuss the challenge in creating Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part by clicking play on the video below.

In addition to Tiffany Haddish, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part also stars Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Will Arnett, and Charlie Day, and arrives in theaters this Friday, February 8th. I have plenty more coming your way from my interviews with the film’s cast and filmmakers so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend to see them as the post.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.