Will Arnett reveals the chaotic challenges he wants to see on Lego Masters
The actor also teases what fans can expect from the rest of the season (hint: It involves Star Wars).
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Will Arnett has no interest in hosting a reality show that depicts people at their worst.
Lucky for him, then, that his latest show, the Fox competition series Lego Masters, features delightful pairs of amateur builders putting their skills to the test during ambitious themed challenges. Though they're all competing for a $100,000 cash prize, the contestants seem to genuinely root for each other.
Arnett opened up to EW about how that positivity is woven into the fabric of the show, what kinds of diabolical challenges he'd set for the contestants, and what else fans can expect from the season (hint: it involves Star Wars).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You've had various hosting gigs over the years, but never your own series. Why did you feel like now is the right time?
WILL ARNETT: When they first came to me to talk about it, I was like, I don't know, this isn't really what I do. I don't know if I'd be very good at it, etc. But the more I sort of talked about it with them — Lego has been such a huge part of my life, which is such a funny statement, even now. But it is true. That has been a huge part of my life for the last 10 years. And I guess it just kind of made sense in the way they presented it. They were like, "Hey, look, you've been in three Lego movies. You've been sort of a constant in the Legoverse. And we know we'd love to have you be an ambassador in that way for the brand." It's so organically a part of my life. So it was just a weird fit.
When you first signed on, did you expect that the contestants would be as good as they are?
No. I mean, I was aware that there was a Lego community out there globally, but just to see how good these people were was pretty amazing. Not just that there are great builders out there, but to think of every week we get these challenges and they start with nothing other than an idea. We get to the judging portion of the show and when their builds come together, I think, wow, it would be hard enough to give people instructions to build these things. But to actually come up with the idea themselves and do it? Amazing.
These challenges are insanely long, some of them more than 15 hours! How does that work from a shooting perspective?
Certainly the builders do have to build for that amount of time. There are breaks, of course — we're not monsters. But it is a competition show. So we are very mindful of the clock, and that is something that we take very seriously. So from the moment that they're on the floor building, the clock is on, and then when we know that there's going to be a twist coming, we sort of guard that like a state secret. [In episode 5], when Aaron and Christian's build fell apart as they were taking it to the gallery, they were devastated and they thought that they were sunk. We knew — it was hard to watch it fall — but I also knew in the back of my mind they're going to get a chance to correct.
And as an executive producer, do you have any say in the challenges?
The ideas of the challenges already existed, but certainly in how we execute stuff and what's important to get [on camera], I mean, that's always a conversation that's going on. Because we do have such long periods of building, different stuff happens in those times. But we do change stuff as we go and things happen. [In this week's] bridge-building challenge, some teams built bridges that exceeded our expectations. We basically at one point were running out of weight to put on [the builds] — I'm not kidding — but then we really had to adapt, improvise, and figure out a way to get our hands on more weights. Because some of the bridges were so strong. It was a surprise to us. That's what was so fun. I was genuinely excited and amazed by the builds in the bridge-building competition. I've got to say, it was maybe my favorite episode.
If you could set a challenge, though, what would your ideal challenge be?
One thing that would be interesting at some point would be to encourage viewers and fans of the show to submit ideas for stuff that they would like to see. But what I'd like to see, even though it's incredibly difficult to build and execute the way that they do [currently], we are in a controlled environment. It'd be interesting to see our teams build out of that controlled environment. Whether it's the elements or the outdoors or just bring in another dynamic that's not so controlled and see what that would look like.
Right. Like on the deck of an aircraft carrier. [Laughs]
What I really love about the show is that it seems like everyone genuinely is rooting for each other, and there's not a lot of tearing others down. Was that something you guys set out to have on the show, or did it happen more organically?
Well, I think that what's great about Lego is it's kind of like an abbreviation of these two Danish words. And it really means "play well." That's at the heart of it, right? And I think that our show is an example of that: People who enjoy Lego or who build, not just in the Lego building world, but just people who build at home, kids, families, whatever, that's the great sort of unifying thing about Lego that does encourage people to play well.
So even as you pointed out, you know, the teams are competing against each other, and they might rib each other or whatever, but they are genuinely kind of rooting for each other, strangely enough. And they are fans of each other's work because they also realize how hard it is to build something that's great. And that's really nice and I think that reads in the show because it's organic, and it's legitimate, it's genuine. We don't want this to be a show that is like a gotcha show where we see people at their worst — I'm not interested in that. I want a show that shows people at their best. We're not trying to, like, put them on an island and get them drunk.
What can you tease about the rest of the season?
We have some great challenges to come. We have some episodes with some kids which are really interesting — not kid builders, but kids who come on and help us with the challenge, which is really fun. We have a great Star Wars episode that is super-exciting. And we get a visit from some iconic Star Wars characters, which I think people will really enjoy. Then the finale is exceptional. It's a marathon of building, in the best way. And we really push the teams to reach for the stars, and it's an exciting sort of photo finish, if you will.
Lego Masters airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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