Mr. Carrey's Penguins

Kid Reporter talks with Jim Carrey about his new movie, Mr. Popper's Penguins

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Penguins have teeth! Penguins lift their flippers high if they get too hot! Be sure you carry lots of fish in your shoes and pockets if you plan to have a sleepover with them. And bring your hot chocolate—these guys love the cold!

It was a sunny afternoon on April 1. Was it really true that Mr. Jim Carrey himself was going to be calling me at my home? It was, after all, April Fool's Day! Maybe it was just a practical joke? Penguins have always been my favorite animal of all time and Jim Carrey has always been my favorite actor ever! It almost seemed like a dream. But before I could even start to wonder, that's when the telephone rang. It was Mr. Jim Carrey asking to speak to me!

Hang on to your snow caps everyone, this telephone interview with Jim Carrey will give you a whole new view on penguins and the funny things they did during the making of his new movie, Mr. Popper's Penguins! It's one of those movies that the whole family will enjoy, and it opens this Friday, June 17 at a theater near you!

Kid Reporter: What attracted you to this movie? Why did you decide to do it?

Jim Carrey: I wanted to do something for the whole family. I wanted to do something that was kind of fun and hip and that still was enjoyable for everybody. Sometimes I do movies that are a little bit edgy and you wonder about kids going to them. For me, it was like something that was just really sweet, and it has a really good heart to it and it makes you feel really good things. Good message. And I love penguins. I wanted to be around penguins.

KR: What do you think about penguins, especially now that you have finished making a movie with them?

Carrey: I learned a lot about penguins and I learned that they are harder to train than other animals. So I had to be tricky and figure out ways to stick fish in my shoes and my pockets and stuff like that in order to make them do stuff. That's the reason I did the movie. If you look on my twitter or my website, I mention penguins every once in a while. I'm a big fan of penguins. They are kind of my favorite animals. You can't really be unhappy around a penguins. They are half fish/half bird – not really, but you know, it kind of feels like that. So they feel like the hybrid of animals.

KR: Do you see penguins differently now?

Carrey: I do definitely, a little bit differently because they are not quite as friendly as I thought they were. They are animals and they don't really like to be too close to people. They are used to being really freezing cold so we had to have the studio freezing, freezing cold, 30 degrees cold, and it was the worst winter in New York history, so it was cold, cold, and more cold.

KR: What are some of the things you learned about penguins making this movie?

Carrey: First of all, they have all these little teeth inside their beaks that go backwards. So if you were to stick your finger in their mouth and they like bit your finger real hard, you wouldn't be able to get your finger out. It's like one of those snake teeth kind of things. It's scary looking, actually, if you look at it. But they're really cool. I really loved them, I loved them. I had fun.

KR: What kinds of practical jokes did the penguins pull on you during the making of this movie?

Carrey: Well, you know, they poop a lot. They poop at the worst possible moments. You might be in the middle of a line and suddenly, you know, you're in the middle of a moment, and suddenly, "Pthhh" and … "Cut!" And you know, there's CG [computer-generated] penguins and there's robot penguins as well as the live penguins. The robot penguins were hilarious because every time somebody had their cell phone on they would go crazy. The would go "Nnnnnnnnnnn," and their heads would shake all over the place and there would be an old guy somewhere with a joy stick going, "Oh, ahhh, I don't have any power!"

KR: What kind of temperatures did you have to maintain on set while you filmed the scenes with the penguins?

Carrey: Thirty degrees. Cold! If the temperature went above 30 degrees, the penguins would start to overheat. You could tell they were overheating because they would stick their flippers out really high sideways and hold them up. The trainer would say they are getting too hot. You have to be careful of that.

KR: What is the funniest thing you remember about working with the penguins?

Carrey: Getting bit a lot. I got bit—a lot. Because I'd get close to them, 'cause I'd want to get close to them in a scene, I'd have to, like, feed them fish in a scene or something and you can't get your fingers out of the way fast enough, so they chomped on me a few times. And everyone had a good laugh about it—except me.

KR: What is the worst thing about living with penguins?

Carrey: Well, there's the poop factor. And they are really loud. They are super loud. They would be on another part of the stage and we would be in a part of a scene without penguins and you'd hear "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa." They kind of sound like a velociraptor.

KR: What's the best thing?

Carrey: The best thing is just getting close to animals, I really like animals. It's really always fun. It's always a bit of a challenge. They always say, "Don't work with children or animals!" and I like working with both. I like things to be not so safe, and not so that you know what's going to happen. Animas are not predictable. Whatever they do you have to figure it out and kind of go with it. It's a challenge.

KR: If you were to really inherit six animals, what kind of animal would you choose? Why?

Carrey: Penguins would be it. On the other hand, then I'd have to have my house be 30 degrees, so let me rethink that. Well, you know, chinchillas look pretty cool. They are cute little fur balls that fly off the walls and stuff like that. That would be pretty fun.

Check out the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog to find out what it was like at the white-carpet premiere of Mr. Popper's Penguins!


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Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.