I had to stink of fish to make penguins follow me on screen, says star of Mr Popper's Penguins Jim Carrey
The 49-year-old said: "Penguins are kind of an obsession with me, I really love them. I don't know any other animal I would rather work with.
"I am Ace Ventura so I have had a lot of experience with animals. I rode an ostrich and had a date with a yak but penguins take the cake - they are like puppies times 10. Pure love.
"There are very few animals that strike a chord with people the way penguins do, who just immediately make you feel love. I think they are one of the secrets to joy and happiness. It can't be denied."
The new film sees Jim dancing and sharing a meal with his flightless friends but he admitted it was challenging - even if they were cute. And he ended up stinking of fish.
He said: "I had no idea they would be so difficult to train. It is impossible to train them.
"We thought we would be able to make them jump through hoops. But all they want is fish. I had to have fish in my pant legs, my shoes and in my pockets. That's how we trained the penguins.
"They will follow you anywhere if you stink like fish, so I tried to stink like fish as much as possible."
Back in 1994 when he was Ace Ventura in two movies, working directly with the animals was a must. Nowadays computer-generated images have come so far he could have opted for pretend penguins.
But anyone who has seen Carrey's movies on DVD will know if they watch the outtakes that Jim has too much fun being spontaneous to pass up on the chance of finding out what could happen with six Gentoo penguins.
He said: "There is one scene at the dinner table when they were absolute maniacs - 'Mrraaaa' (he starts making penguin noises).
"They bit me mercilessly but I didn't mind. I was constantly feeding them.
"I had to make them go to different spots when they were on camera and my fingers were bloodied a bit here and there. They weren't unfriendly - they just don't like to be handled."
Carrey's character turns his apartment into a winter wonderland and temperatures on set were minus one (30F) to keep the penguins comfortable.
Then there was their calls, which Jim describes as 'like dinosaurs'.
He said: "I think it was actually one of the sounds Steven Spielberg used to help create the dinosaur noises in Jurassic Park.
"When they start to do this (he starts making crazy noises) it means you have to turn down the temperature.
"Humans really don't matter at that point because you can't hurt the penguins. If you do it is straight to hell. By the way, no penguins were harmed in the making of this film."
Other actors - especially those worth multi-millions and whose films have grossed $2.3billion in total - would feel they don't need the aggravation. But Jim still likes to stray out of his comfort zone.
He said: "I am not afraid to work with animals. I love capturing the spark of innocence and who better than animals and children to bring out that spark? I welcome it and I love the chaos of it."
Chaos has shaped Carrey's career. Now one of Hollywood's leading players, he is probably the best-paid comedian in tinsel town.
Since Ace Ventura he's had hit after hit: The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to name a few.
Jim has also branched out of the funny-guy roles, playing a gay man opposite Ewan McGregor in I Love You Phillip Morris and dramas like The Majestic. So surely he's achieved all his dreams?
He said: "I feel super lucky and incredibly blessed and grateful to make movies like Mr Popper's Penguins. My goals involve approaching things a little bit differently from the way they have been done before and to be as authentic as I can be.
"Even if I am being over the top or crazy I want to do something different and original. The focus for me has always been the person in the seat.
"There is nothing that makes me happier than when someone says, 'I watched your movie The Mask 300 times when I was kid.'
"I look forward to the time when I am 70 or 80 years old and people come up to me going 'It was you, dude'. That's an amazing feeling."
Carrey plays Tom Popper in the movie, a workaholic New York businessman who has neglected his wife and children in order to pursue his real-estate career.
His dad, who neglected him as a child, dies but leaves him six penguins and Tom becomes their full-time carer - losing his job but realising what is really important in life.
It's not the first time Jim has played a character who isn't that nice to start with but gets in touch with their humanity. His role in Liar Liar for example. And, it seems, in his own life.
He explained: "Well I am this guy, or I have been this guy in my life at different times, as many of us have - putting our eggs into the wrong basket, looking and focusing on the wrong things.
"I have been down the wrong road before and have valued the wrong things. And I have experienced life happening to me and have had it spin me around to the point where there was nothing left except what was real. And that is what the movie is about - a man spun around when he is on the wrong track."
Jim, born and raised in Ontario, has been married twice.
The first time was to Melissa, the mother of his only child, Jane. After they divorced in 1995 he married his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly in 1996 but the marriage only lasted a year.
He then had a high-profile relationship and engagement with RenÃ©e Zellweger, who he met on the set of Me, Myself & Irene.
They split in 2000 and a five-year relationship with Jenny McCarthy ended last year.
In 2010 he became a grandfather when Jane gave birth to her son, Jackson.
Carrey has admitted to suffering from depression but it seems he has finally found peace. He said: "I do not feel jaded in any way.
"There was a moment in my life when I thought 'I am not sure that I want to be part of this big thing that is Hollywood.'
"I looked at it kind of cynically for a minute. Then I sat on my couch and I realised the value of what I do. We get to free people from concern."
Carrey revealed that he started his comedy career as a kid to make his mum feel better.
That led to stand-up gigs in Toronto and at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles before he made his TV break in US sketch show In Living Color.
He said: "I did comedy as a child because we had a dysfunctional family. I was always trying to make my mother laugh because she was sick or depressed. Many comics start out that way - that's how you get good.
"Your drunken grandparents leave and then you turn around as a seven-year-old child and start imitating them.
"That is how it began for me, imitating my family and bringing comic relief to them. People don't just want to see it - they need it.
"I need it more than they do, that's why I am on this side of the camera - I'm really needy."
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