“I never leave the funny roles, I just go all over the place. I’m a creative, so I like to do it all,” says the Canadian-born actor, flashing his world-famous manic grin.
“Some people resist working with children and animals for fear of being upstaged,” says the 49-year-old. “But I love capturing the spark of innocence. And what’s better than penguins, in our case, and children to bring that out in us?”
“There’s no mistaking their innocent purity and there’s this quality about them that’s odd. They’re not quite at home in the water, they’re not quite at home on land.
“Are they fish? Are they fowl? What are they? I think everybody who looks at them has that same feeling about themselves, I know I do. Where do I fit in? That’s what we love about them. They’re awkward!”
Carrey beat off competition from five “major comedians” for the role, according to producer John Davis, who says: “Some of them showed up at my office with penguin statues and said, ’I have to do this movie because I love penguins’.”
“He has a rare kind of emotional accessibility,” says Mean Girls director Mark Waters.
“My major quest in life is freedom from concern, that’s my MO mode of operating. It’s what I’ve done since I was a kid.
“People always ask me where the comedy comes from. Well, my mother was a sweet, sweet lady, but she was struggling with so much I felt like it was my responsibility to lift her out of it and free her from concern. I spent my life doing that.
“Then it was for my family when money was tight, and for my friends. I realised I could fit in like a glove if I made people laugh, and now it’s become this worldwide obnoxious pilgrimage.”
“That was a highlight for me,” admits Carrey. “The penguins were maniacs, all they wanted to do was attack the dinner plates.
“I liked working with them because it was always spontaneous; you never knew what was going to happen.
“All they want is fish, so I carried fish around with me – in my pockets, shoes, everywhere.”
“It was freezing on set all the time, just 30 degrees Fahrenheit – I was dying but the penguins were very happy. Then we’d go outside and do a scene on the roof where it was 80 degrees and I had to be in a Parka and five layers of clothing.
“I literally almost fainted at one point. I was like, ’Get it off’ and they had to tear the coat off me.
“My life is very hard...” he adds, with another grin.
“When things you don’t necessarily want interrupt your life, they’re there for a reason – to open you up to something you’re missing.
“I’ve gone through periods where I was selfish or wasn’t necessarily there as much as I should have been.
“I guess that’s why I was called to do this part because I could be that guy. We can all get caught up in our little quest for greatness, discovery and things that fascinate us. And there’s something so much more fascinating sitting right there.”
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