Few actors have unintentionally cornered the sidekick market quite like Michael Cera. The Brampton-born actor who's made a name for himself in TV (Arrested Development as George-Michael Bluth to Jason Bateman's Michael Senior), movies (Superbad's Evan to Jonah Hill's domineering Seth) and web series (the wildly underrated Clark and Michael, which co-starred his close friend Clark Duke), as well as the indie film world (Sundance 2017 selection Person to Person, which we called "the best film of the festival"). But with The LEGO Batman Movie, he's taken on one of his most storied sidekick roles yet.
Building off the success of The LEGO Movie (and audiences' love of its version of Batman) the spinoff finds Will Arnett reprising his role as the Dark Knight and teaming up with a young Robin (played by Cera) to take on the Joker, among other fearsome villains from Gotham.
Due to scheduling conflicts, Cera was never able to reconnect with his Arrested Development co-star while recording his role, but he did find a friend, confidant and fan in Chris McKay, the former Robot Chicken director who helmed the film.
"I'm a big, big fan of Chris and the way he works," Cera tells Exclaim! "If you have any kind of thing — you throw out an idea, or something — he'll go with it, he'll build on it. It was very loose. You could find a whole new joke or something and they could animate it later."
He may have starred in the comic adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but Cera wasn't a huge comic book fan growing up, nor did he play with LEGO. That said, he was a "big fan" of the original LEGO Movie, as well as the campy, Adam West-starring Batman series from the 1960s. By the sounds of it, The LEGO Batman Movie's similarly comedic, over-the-top take on classic characters helped draw him to the role: "I like how silly it is, the humour."
Still, for all the fun onscreen, Cera hopes audiences respond to the film's overall message.
"There is a kind of 'hit you over the head' message to the movie, I think, about accepting help and being a part of a team, not being a loner and not self-imposing this loneliness on yourself, in a very comical way that's kind of laced in there," he says. "Maybe kids will absorb that, and I don't think that would be a bad thing."
The LEGO Batman Movie hits theatres on February 10.