‘Lego Masters’ Host Will Arnett and Producers on How Season 2 Found More Intense, ‘Eccentric’ Builders

“Lego Masters” returns for a second season on Tuesday with a new crop of contestants that once again live up to the show’s title — and perhaps even more so than last year. Season 1 featured impressive builds from some incredibly creative minds — but according to executive producers Anthony Dominici and Michael Heyerman, many of the nation’s most talented Lego builders weren’t ready to compete back then.

Cut to Season 2: Now that they’ve seen the show and verified how legit “Lego Masters” is, everyone wants in. “I would say that we found a lot of the builders that we cast this season were probably the ones who were a little nervous about joining a first season show,” Dominici says. “They didn’t know what the sort of tone of the show would be. A lot of our builders this season were big fans of the first season. They saw that we’re not here to make fun of anyone. Our builders are, I would say, even more incredible than the first season, more diverse and have really great, interesting stories.”

Like Season 1, “Lego Masters” cast a wide net for contestants, and put together a wildly diverse crop of contestants. Dominici says he’s especially surprised at the number of older Lego geniuses they have found to be on the show: “One of our build teams is a brother and sister, he’s 67 and she’s around 59. He’s a biker, and rides a motorcycle around, and you would never expect this to be a team on a Lego show,” he says. “The builders this season have great stories, incredible builds and personalities.”

Heyerman says there’s a certain amount of eccentric-ness among the Lego experts. “They are very cerebral, they’re very much like an artist, so their personalities come along with that,” he says. “It’s a show that casts unlike any of the others. I really look forward to seeing the tapes as they come in. They’re all just really fun archetypes of personalities.”

That means plenty of interaction between the contestants and host Will Arnett, who Heyerman calls “the funniest person on the planet.” In Season 1, it took some time for the Lego builders to realize they could joke and have fun with Arnett. This season, they’re ready to improvise with him. “I felt like this group really engaged and was really open to the process because they knew it wasn’t going to be mean spirited,” Heyerman says. “When you’re working for 18 hours, and your fingers are being worked to the bone, sometimes you need that in order to bring some levity into the room so that everybody kind of lightens up and realizes we’re just having fun.”

Arnett says he noticed that increased levity as well. “But as much as they were there and kind of goofing around, there were a lot of them who came and meant business,” he says. “These people were practicing at home with each other and getting ready, knowing that they were on the clock. A lot of them came super prepared.”

As with most productions, COVID-19 protocols forced several changes on Season 2 of “Lego Masters”: Most notably, production shifted to Atlanta, where a massive soundstage was located to shoot the show.

“We had made ‘MasterChef’ in the pandemic, so we had some experience and there was no positive test, so we felt good about us being able to execute that,” Heyerman says. “We started looking for stages that had enough space for our big crew, and to house 5 million bricks. Not only house them but spray them with UV light so that it was safe after every use. We needed an area that could have our big crew spaced apart. That’s when we landed in Atlanta. We owned two huge stages and could literally just kind of spread out.”

Dominici says the goal was to make sure the Lego pit didn’t turn into a “germ pit.” “We worked out all these methods and talked to lots of experts and hired a compliance company that helped figure it out, we tested all these different methods for cleaning the bricks and quickly arrived on the solution. We’re thankful and proud to say that, we had 150 crew roughly on set every day, and during production there was not a single positive COVID case on our on our show, which is incredible.”

For Arnett, moving to Atlanta had another unexpected upside: He wound up renting an apartment in the same building as his “Arrested Development” buddy Jason Bateman, who was in town filming “Ozark.”

“We were also doing our podcast at the same time, which was really fun,” Arnett said. “Atlanta was great because we were kind of sequestered, and there was nowhere else to go you just went from where you were staying to work. It was great being down there and, yeah, I never like to be too far away from Bateman.”

As for the Lego builds, Dominici says the mantra of Season 2 was “bigger and better. We just took everything and really just blew it up, sometimes literally. We have lots of hours for them to build these incredible projects and I think people are going to really be surprised and in awe of what they can come up with on the spot. To be clear, when Will on the show gives them the assignment of what they’re building this week, that’s the first time they’re ever hearing it. There’s no prep time, there’s no sketching or producing in advance. They are just improv-ing this whole thing, and it’s like, how do you do this? Every week we’re always blown away.”

Dominici does reveal that the contestants are given breaks, and that sometimes the builds take place over a number of days. So when the clock says 14 hours, it’s not consecutive. Yes, there’s time for them to eat and sleep. The finale challenge, for example, ends up taking 24 hours.

Major builds this season include a special Earthquake simulator machine that took the show’s challenge team many hours to build. “Fox wanted things to break, they were like, let’s have some fun,” Heyerman says. “Let’s do more challenges like we did the bridge in Season 1. Let’s do more and put them in the stress test.”

Adds Dominici: “Most of them are not engineers. They’re just Lego building fans, but they’re coming up with these methods. They’re making up their engineering and figuring out what their design philosophy is. It’s really cool to follow along and we’re guessing too. Will that work or that be stronger?”

Due to COVID restrictions, there aren’t as many guest stars this season, but among the show’s visitors are former Kermit the Frog puppeteer Steve Whitmire, who designs a special Will Arnett puppet for Arnett. “The guy’s a master performer and hilarious in his own right, and we just came up with this bit and Will had the most fun on set,” Dominici says.

As for Arnett, whose experience with Lego includes playing with his kids but also as the voice of Lego Batman, he admits this season’s contestants made him question his own building abilities.

“It’d be like going to play golf and having Tiger Woods tee off,” he says. “We had even more strong builders, and some of the stuff they did was mesmerizing. We had a challenge when they all had to build a castle, coming out of a cliff wall basically, and they could use up to 10 two-stud pieces that were anchored into the wall, to support it. They really far exceeded our expectations of what you could do, purely from an engineering standpoint. We have even more strong builders I think that I think real fans of Lego are going to like it.”

 

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