Lego Pharell

This gon’ be a LEGO movie bruh: The Pharrell Williams Biopic

By Campbell Wood

Biopics about musicians have become increasingly frequent in Hollywood since the popularity of such movies as Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, and Elvis. However, no musician has dared to make an autobiographical biopic not only animated but interestingly portrayed in LEGO bricks. Who else could take on this anomaly of film but legendary rapper, singer, and producer Pharell Williams?

In January of 2024, Pharrell announced his upcoming project on Instagram featuring a movie poster of a golden LEGO brick evolving into the Virginia Beach native rapper. The post featured the following caption: “Who would've thought that playing with Legos as a kid would evolve into a movie about my life. It's proof that anyone else can do it too… #PieceByPiece.”

The first trailer for the biopic, appropriately named “Piece By Piece,” was released on Thursday, June 6th. The trailer featured a similar style to that of past LEGO films such as The Lego Movie (2014) and The LEGO Batman Movie (2017.) This movie will be the first LEGO movie since the release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part in 2019, as well as being the first LEGO movie based on a real person. The film is directed by Oscar-winner Morgan Neville, who has been heavily praised by Pharrell in a statement that read “When I had this crazy vision to tell this story through LEGO bricks, I couldn’t have imagined a better partner than Morgan. He is a legend."

The official trailer contains a vibrant toy-comprising portrayal of Pharell’s life as a child in Virginia Beach, as well as footage of him in the studio and a LEGO-fied version of the “Happy” music video. Unlike a traditional biopic, the movie is stunningly unrealistic with bright colors and lights and LEGO minifigures having their heads blown off reacting to Pharrell’s music.

The LEGO biopic features a star-studded cast of acutely notable musicians such as Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, and many more. The musical artist-packed cast will be one of the first iterations of all actors in a biopic playing themselves. I am hopeful that the cast will have more cameos of other musicians who have worked closely with Pharrell, like Tyler, The Creator and Daft Punk.

This film has the opportunity to achieve and express the life of an amply artistic individual in the most unique way possible. The use of LEGOs to tell the story of a musician will push the boundaries of what it means to be a “creator,” similar to the achievements of Tyler, the Creator with his own luxury brand, GOLF, and his Adult Swim comedy series, Loiter Squad.

I believe Pharrell’s biopic has the possibility of going down in music and film history as one of the most multimedia pieces of content expressed in one singular movie. The combination of film, animation, music, toys, and documentation will fulfill a recipe for an incredible appreciation of culture. Pharrell’s story is being expressed through as many means possible, which in turn produces something that can be entertaining to a multitude of generations and audiences.

Pharrell Williams was blessed with a rare phenomenon known as “synesthesia,” where the sensation of one feeling can be translated through the sense of another type of stimulation. To simplify in Pharrell’s words, he describes having synesthesia as “when you're hearing music, you see it in color.” Pharrell’s type of synesthesia is called “projective synesthesia,” where a person can sense colors, shapes, or other forms when stimulated in a certain way, e.g. sound.

The scenes featured in the official trailer utilize bright colors and beautiful active elements through LEGOs to describe what it felt like to Pharrell hearing music for the first time as a child. Using the medium of LEGOs to describe Pharrell’s musical journey is such an inventive and original way to explain how synesthesia can feel to someone who experiences the phenomenon. You can easily capture the fascination of Pharrell’s perspective of colors and music through this form of animation.

Not only will this increase publicity and relevance to Pharrell’s name, but I cannot imagine what the merchandise from this production will look like. LEGO has the opportunity to bank on this movie and profit from new LEGO sets featuring Pharrell and the musical star-studded cast. LEGO can reach out to an entirely new audience of music lovers who might not have thought twice about buying LEGO products before. This addition will expand LEGO’s ever-growing catalog of toys based on popular media, and make minifigures of real people. I cannot wait to get my hands on a Kendrick Lamar LEGO minifigure.

Piece By Piece is the biopic we never knew we needed. It goes to show that anyone’s story can be told in any way possible, any way you want it. A career as versatile as Pharrell Williams is the perfect story to be told through LEGOs. LEGOs open a world of creativity and imagination for children, and I am incredibly grateful that someone as innovative as Pharrell is able to use these simple building bricks as his canvas. I am so excited to see how the movie will use this unique opportunity to exist as the ultimate appreciation of culture.