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Pharrell to tell his life story in a Lego movie

Piece By Piece will be a different kind of celebrity documentary

Pharrell as Lego in the dawn of man type graphic with gold lego pieces behind him Image: Focus Features/Lego
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

When Universal Pictures acquired the rights to Lego in 2020, the logical assumption was that another sequel to or reboot of The Lego Movie might be in the works. The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie were big hits for Warner Bros. Pictures, and with unlimited brick-building possibilities, the IP was a potential goldmine if a studio could crack the code again. But the first project to come out of the deal won’t resemble anything like the animated movies of the past. It may not resemble any movie at all.

On Friday, Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams announced that he was set to produce Piece By Piece, a new film chronicling his life story — told entirely through Lego brick animation. Documentaries produced by their subjects are a dime a dozen, but Williams is aspiring to create something that both makes sense to the guy who found pop-hit inspiration in Despicable Me 2 (see: “Happy”) and sound absolutely loopy. Focus Features, a subsidiary of Universal, announced that documentarian Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain) would direct the feature.

“Five years ago, Pharrell Williams approached me with the idea of helping him tell his story through LEGO animation,” Neville said in a statement. “It was one of those rare moments where I knew in a second that this was a journey I wanted to go on. I’m grateful to our partners at Focus Features and at the LEGO Group for their belief in our crazy mission. We assembled an incredible team of creative collaborators to help make a new type of film.”

While The Lego Movie was produced using computer animation that mimicked the stop-motion potential of Lego bricks, filmmakers have dabbled with actual Legos to bring their stories to life over the years. Michel Gondry famously used the bricks to animate The White Stripes “Fell in Love with a Girl” music video in 2002, while a viral Lego brick animator jumped from YouTube to the big screen in 2023 to construct a brief-but-elaborate sequence in Across the Spider-verse. From the sound of it, Williams is a longtime Lego builder who will be living out his dream seeing his career Lego-ified in one will inevitably be one of the most ambitious attempts of Lego animation.

“I’m honored to share this with the world and bring people into my universe,” Williams said in a statement. “Building with LEGO bricks encourages us to follow our imagination… who would’ve thought that playing with these toys as a kid would evolve into a movie about my life. It’s proof that anyone else can do it too.”

Piece By Piece will hit theaters on Oct. 11, 2024.

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