‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ star Stephanie Beatriz embraces being bad in ‘Lego Movie 2’

General Mayhem (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) takes aim in "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part." Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The star plays Rosa Diaz on the NBC comedy, and will also direct an episode in March.

General Mayhem (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) takes aim in "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part."
General Mayhem (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) takes aim in "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part." Photo Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

Stephanie Beatriz has made her name playing the tough-as-nails Rosa Diaz on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and she brings that attitude to her new film, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

As General Mayhem, she runs the Systar System Army, working for Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who is a foil to Chris Pratt’s Emmett and his brick friends, showing up in Bricksburg and whisking them away to a new galaxy.

“She is the sort of badass of the film, I would say instigator,” says the 37-year-old actress. “She’s super scary. She’s like kind of decked out in this super villain spacesuit situation. She’s got this really incredible ship.”

Obviously she’s a baddie, but do you relate to her?

I do relate to her. I mean weirdly I keep getting cast in these kind of badass roles. This and then the other character I’m really known for is Rosa Diaz. I guess I must be more confident than I actually think I am. … I think sometimes I’m very vocal about speaking out about issues that I believe in. I think maybe in that way I’m similar to both of those characters.

Do you find yourself now seeking out the tough roles?

I don’t necessarily seek them out. But I think I’m happy to play them just because … it’s still such an anomaly to see a woman playing these badass roles. And they become, every time a woman does it well it becomes iconic. You can even point to the character of Lucy played by Elizabeth Banks in the first movie. It’s like it was surprising and sort of almost shocking to see her character to be such an ass-kicker.

She was awesome! So let’s talk about your history with Lego.

Yeah, I was kind of a Lego kid. I have this story that’s been passed around quite a bit. But I had this Lego, sort of my own version of Bricksburg, going on in my bedroom for a long time. And my mom kept trying to get me to clean it up and I refused. I would add to it all the time. And then one day, sure enough, what she said would happen, happened, and I tripped over a big chunk of it, ended up totally demolishing it and busting my head open in the process. I have a scar on my right eyebrow that is a result of the Lego obsession.

So you have real credibility!

Yeah, real cred! Street cred. Street Lego cred. 

Have you built any of your Lego sets yet?

I haven’t built my set yet. I did end up purchasing quite a few of the sets for Christmas presents for friends’ kids and nieces and nephews. It’s so crazy it’s still such a popular toy. It’s still so popular. There’s not very many toys on the market that you can point to that have had the longevity that Lego has had.

How surreal is it that you have a toy?

Yeah, no, it’s very crazy. It’s insane. It’s absolutely as insane as you would guess it is. It’s real, really, really weird. … When you see the Emmet character, the Lego character, you sort of go, “Oh, that’s Emmet. That’s Chris Pratt.” And now it’s like, “Oh, that’s Mayhem. That’s Stephanie Beatriz.” That’s crazy. And amazing and wonderful and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play in this universe.

What’s going on with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”?

It’s been amazing to be back. And [NBC] has been so supportive of the show, doing this crazy promotion of it and just generally being wonderful, wonderful to us. I’m really excited by this season. I think it’s gotten off to an incredible start. Our ratings have been crazy. And I’m super excited for our audience to see the episode that I directed, which would be in March. It was my first time directing and it’s a really, really great episode; we sort of take on the issue of #MeToo.

Scott A. Rosenberg