“Broad City” star Abbi Jacobson is at the LegoLand resort in California, sitting in a Lego “Indiana Jones”-themed hotel room, adorned with some brick-built treasures on a shelf.
Much to her dismay, the furniture itself isn’t made from the building block toys.
“I was hoping there would be a chair or the bed at least,” she jokes.
Jacobson is at the Lego mecca because she’s one of the voice stars of “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” the third Lego film to hit the big screen. She plays Nya, a Ninja, which is a long way from her “Broad City” character Abbi Abrams.
amNewYork spoke with Jacobson on the phone about the film, opening in theaters Friday, and “Broad City,” which recently returned to Comedy Central.
Tell me about your history with Lego.
As a kid, Legos were one of my favorite toys. . . . I remember one of the biggest sets I did was this pirate ship. It was such a big deal to get it. I think my brother and I both got it. It was very intricate. . . . But other than that I remember bizarrely the free-form Lego building. I built a — this is so dumb but — do you remember the banks like where your parents would deposit a check and it would go up a tube and be like, suctioned up?
Yeah, those were awesome!
So I built a drive-through bank. I think because as a kid that was so cool that it suctioned up. . . . And I had an interior with some cubicles for people to work. I don’t know what that says about me, but, yeah, that was it.
So tell me what makes your character Nya tick?
Well, she’s super competitive. I think a big thing for her is being the girl of the gang. And that was something that I continually tried to bring to the character too. . . . She doesn’t want to be separate because of that. But it’s also like, that’s who she is. And she’s a big part of the gang because of that. She rides a motorcycle. She’s pretty tough.
This movie has an amazing voice cast. Did you get to do any improv?
We’ve been recording this for like two years. But most of them are solo. So I’ve been doing them in New York. I improvise on my own and I think everybody does in their solo things as well. But then there was one day when we were all together in a room in a big studio in LA and it was pretty great. It’s kind of like an improviser’s dream team.
Is it a different muscle you have to flex when you’re doing a voice over?
Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely something I’ve learned the more I’ve been doing it as well. On “Broad City” I can use my whole body to convey whatever emotion. So often I play super insecure and I realize that I use my face a lot to convey that. . . . When you do a voice over, it’s just your voice. . . . On “Broad City,” or in any live action thing, I can kind of be more dead pan and let other parts of myself show more. But when your voice is the only thing, you have to kind of figure that out.
Speaking of “Broad City,” season four just started. What can we expect from this new season?
I mean, it was pretty exciting for us because it’s been over a year and a half since we’ve aired the show, and we wanted the world to exist over that time. So it doesn’t pick up right where we left off. They’ve been living. So there’s definitely a lot of change in the characters and that was a difficult thing for us, but we really wanted to try and grow and push ourselves. It’s a winter season, which you’ve never seen. It’s always been a summer. I just think that they’re growing up a little bit and struggling in different ways. It’s still hopefully funny first. But there’s definitely like a little bit of a different tone. Also just because of the winter. It’s a little bit darker.
Do you have fun stories about you and co-star Ilana Glazer from the filming?
Well, this isn’t fun. But it was supposed to be a winter season and it was, you know, with climate change, it really wasn’t. . . . While we were shooting, we were like, “OK, I guess it’s not going to ever snow.” We were wearing coats and stuff and a lot of the days it was warm. It was very sad. Just looking at it from that point of view, it was upsetting. But we shot in Florida this season. . . . We never really left New York, and so it was really fun and that’s the episode where everything looks different, like the color, obviously, because the sun is just different there. It’s really bright. We go to Florida to clean out Ilana’s grandmother’s condo. Ilana’s grandmother died a couple of years ago on the show. And we go down with Susie Essman, who’s Ilana’s mom, and Fran Drescher is Ilana’s aunt on the show. Which, I mean, the two of them, it was just bananas.
Was it all yelling?
Yeah. In the episode, you can imagine. We have them arguing over something because you have to have that with the two of them. It really feels like a series that you would want to watch the two of them.
How was it working with guest stars Steve Buscemi and RuPaul?
I mean they’re both like, legends. RuPaul is in a couple of episodes as Ilana’s boss and felt so organically right for the tone of the show. It was kind of unbelievable how perfectly he fit in. And then Steve was just an absolute joy to have on. It was very difficult for me. He’s in scenes with me — and it’s a very scary scene — and it was really hard because he’s so sweet in real life and he’s playing someone that’s scary, but also there’s a little twist. But yeah, we’re so constantly fortunate with our guest stars that I kind of am always like just scared that it’s going to go away just because we get to keep working with amazing people.
So, final and, I believe, most important question: What are your ninja skills like?
I have an incredible game. Really good picking people up, if that’s ninja skills. I’m really good at literally picking people up, too. I figure out how to use my knees and not lift from use of my back. Yeah, I think I’d be pretty good on an obstacle course. I think I actually would be. I’m very crafty. I can swim. Yeah, those are them — those are my skills.