Q: What was it like working with the talented Angela Lansbury?
JC: Can I tell you something? Sheās incredibly tough. 4 oāclock in the morning, sheās up running us all ragged. Sheās unbelievable, enthusiastic, completely into it. I dream of being that enthusiastic at that point in my career. Itās fantastic to watch. It was amazing to work with her.
Q: Youāve done visual effects movies before. Does it get any easier in terms of working with effects? Did you know from looking at the script when youād be dealing with little āxāsā and when thereād be actual creatures there?
JC: I didnāt really have any idea how we were going to go about it on a day to day basis. What happened was I loved working with the real penguins. The animatronic penguins were a little bit of an issue because everybody has a cell phone or some kind of plate in their head or some kind of electronic gizmo or whatever these days ā iPads and things coming out of everywhere ā and so you get guys on joy sticks going āIs that you? Itās not me. Is that you?ā His head is like Jacobās ladder as Iām trying to act with the penguin. We opted for a lot of CG stuff but most of it is real penguins because I love working with animals. I like to join their energy and often times weād come in on the set and they wouldnāt be there and weād be ready to work with the āxāsā on the floor or little tennis balls or whatever it is and youād hear them off in the distance in their habitat going āHonk.ā Theyād be interrupting the dialogue anyway. Weād go āThey might as well be here. Bring them on in.ā A lot of times we did that at the last minute. And they made love. There was no hanky panky on the set but the penguins were going at it ā Iām just sayinā ā which is always a good sign apparently.
Q: If you inherited penguins, like your character did, what would you do?
JC: Eat them, probably!
Q: Iāve always admired how expressive you can be with your face. I remember reading that you used to practice in front of the mirror, so Iām wondering, are you still finding new things you can do with your face?
JC: Well my face kind of operates on its own nowadays. It just does what it wants to do. Sometimes itās appropriate and sometimes itās not. Sometimes in the editing room weāll go āThatās not human! I want to take that out. Wait a second! Eyebrows arenāt supposed to be able to do that! Thatās going to distract people flat out.ā But I find Iām still doing things, little tricks and fun things that I created when I was 10 years old. All of it comes into play. And the play you do when youāre a kid is so super important. Iām so lucky that my life didnāt get turned upside down until I was 11 because I had a lot of great play and a lot of creativity that still comes into play for me.
Q: I love the fact that you were able to work in some of your old school stand-up like your Jimmy Stewart impression. To what extent does your experience in stand-up help in a performance like this?
JC: It certainly makes you more comfortable with yourself and comfortable being creative in the moment. I mean, working with the penguins, you can have a plan but theyāre going to do what theyāre going to do and you have to be kind of on your feet. Itās all great training. I used to think of it as training, going up night after night without a plan at the Comedy Store. Two-thirds of the time people would throw chairs at me and a third of the time it would be a flow that was really kind of God given and you felt lucky to be a part of and that made me comfortable.
Q: Can you talk about the inspiration behind using footage of Charlie Chaplinās ālittle trampā slapstick routine in the film?
JC: Well, you know, it was Mark [Water]ās idea to bring that to the film and of course I went along with it completely because I just felt like thereās a person who ā¦ I donāt think itās a conscious thing on his behalf, but it was a great parallel ā the way he walks as a tramp and moves as a tramp and that penguin thing. He has somehow captured that same kind of waddling, you know, something vulnerable that the penguins have. I think thatās why we love penguins because they donāt belong anywhere. Theyāre wobbly and vulnerable and theyāre not really fish and theyāre not really birds and thatās how I feel and probably a lot of people.
Q: During the shooting, the environment had to be really cold because of the penguins. How uncomfortable was it working like that?
JC: Basically, the set was so cold that I was fighting pneumonia the entire time. I donāt know about anybody else, but I was like OxyContin or whatever they call it. Iām Canadian so I have a little background with that [cold weather]. It wasnāt even about the health of the penguins, it was because theyāre Method. Thatās what I found out. But then there was going outside when it was 75 and 80 degrees, before the giant snowstorm hit, in five layers of clothing and a parka. That was an odd, weird mix to act with.
Q: What was it like ice skating in Central Park in Wollman Rink? Was that one of your favorite locations?
JC: Definitely one of them for sure , [also] the Flat Iron and Guggenheim. The Guggenheim was odd because I felt like I was falling downhill the whole time. There was that downhill kind of thing going on. They would have to mop me down at the rink because Iām Canadian so I got the skates on and āGoodbye! Iām not filming anymore. Iām now fantasizing about the Stanley Cup.ā Iām shooting pucks against the boards and I was drenched with sweat the whole night. I definitely say the Rink because it has special memories for me too. Iāve been there several times myself and I just love to skate. When I put a skate on the ice, Iām free from the world and I have no problems at all. Iām a bird. A penguin, yes.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory or funny story about working with the penguins?
JC: I got bit a lot. I got nipped here and there. It was a good thing. I loved that dinner scene which was supposed to be them sitting in their chairs just pecking fish off the plates. It was funny because they had the camera in my face and then it would dolly back. We didnāt really know what I was going to do with it. And they had the wranglers with broom poles separating and holding back the penguins like a horse race or something while their heads were trying to get at the fish. And then theyād go, āOkay, Jim. Ready? Go!ā It should be called distracting because itās mayhem basically. I just had to stay in it and have fun with it. When stuff like that happens, inside Iām going āYes, yes! Go wild!ā So that was a good memory.
Q: Youāre so talented, but what would you do if you were not an actor?
JC: What would I do? Well I wanted to be a veterinarian for about a week of my life when I was a kid, but then I found out about the whole euthanasia thing and I said āI canāt commit to that. Sorry! I canāt do it.ā But really, since the very beginning, I looked at my father and he was commanding the room. Every time we had people over, he stood in the middle of the room and people were just astounded at his creativity and his animation when he told a story. There was no choice for me. I was just like āThatās how Iām going to get over in the world. I want to be that guy.ā
Q: You talked earlier about new ways of expressing yourself and youāre such a creative guy, what are some of the ways you express yourself that we might not even know about, either through sports or charity or a favorite passion of yours?
JC: I have a lot of things going on. At a certain point in my life for a long time I was harnessing it in one direction. It seemed to be a few years ago, things just seemed to be kind of spilling over the edges and I couldnāt control it so much anymore. I kind of let it go wherever it goes. I do have philanthropic concerns. I try not to make it too loud. I have something called SRI that Iām involved with promoting. Itās called System of Rice Intensification, but itās not just for rice. Itās also for other crops. Iāve been spreading that. Iāve been going around the world on a grassroots level directly to the farmers teaching a method of growing rice that uses 50% less water and 90% less seed and yields four times as much rice. Itās an incredible thing. If you want to check it out and see what itās about, itās on the Better U Foundation website (betterufoundation.org) which is my foundation. And creatively, thereās Twitter (laughs). But I also paint a lot and this is a huge passion for me. So, when Iām not acting, I literally wake up every morning and I have my coffee and I pick up a paintbrush and itās not just something I do on the sunporch. I have a studio in New York ā and I havenāt revealed [although] Iāve leaked out a couple of little things here and there ā there is one in the movie. One of my paintings is in the movie. Itās in the TV den in one of the scenes. Itās one of my paintings, but theyāre all over the place.
Q: Is it impressionistic?
JC: Conceptual, impressionistic. I have a painting right now that Iām doing in New York that Iāve spent 200 hours on. I canāt wait to get back because I have about 5 more days. Itās 16 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Itās a black light painting actually. Itās definitely viewable in the daylight. Itās a normal painting, but when you turn the black lights on, everything lights up and people come out of the dark and itās kind of interesting. So yeah, thereās a whole other realm for me thatās happening that I havenāt really revealed to the world yet but I will.
Q: I know youāve gotten very spiritual in the last few years. Did you see Tom Shadyacās film āI Amā and is that compatible with your beliefs?
JC: Yes, I did. I think a lot of it is and some of it isnāt. I think he should look at what weāve done in Hollywood as also a spiritual thing. I think thatās a very important thing ā what we did together.
Q: Has becoming a granddad changed you at all? Are you excited about that?
JC: Of course. Jacksonās fantastic. I just hung out with him yesterday. Heās the best. The best! Heās so wonderful.
Q: Whatās your guilty pleasure?
JC: Oh my gosh, hmmmā¦ I like pretty girls. Thatās not guilty. Why would that be guilty? Iāve got a lust for life.
http://www.moviesonline.ca/2011/06/Jim- ... -penguins/