The star talks about coming back for the animated, dancing penguin sequel
WIN HAPPY FEET TWO ON BLU-RAY
Five years ago, Happy Feet brought a tale of a toe tapping penguin to the big screen and walked away with legions of new fans and an Oscar for best Animated Film at the 2007 awards. Now, director George Miller is back with a sequel that reunites much of the cast, including Elijah Wood as the voice of unusual avian Mumble.
Best known as the hobbit star of The Lord of the Rings series, Wood has more recently voiced another animated character in 9, taken on a lead role in TV series Wilfred and will return to the role of Frodo Baggins for The Hobbit, currently in production.
Q: What's it like to come back to Happy Feet and Mumble after five years?
EW: Has it been five years?Q: You probably started working on it less than five years ago.
EW: Man, that's crazy. Wow, I can't believe so much time has passed. It's great. It feels wonderful to revisit it. We had a blast making the first one. I thought the film that George (Miller) and all of us made was unique and different and had its own unique atmosphere to it.
It was a pleasure to revisit those characters and to revisit the cast and work together again. I love working with George. I love working with Robin (Williams.) Many of the same cast members came back, including some new additions, Hank Azaria, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. It was a lot of fun. We recorded a majority of it in Australia as a cast, which is pretty rare for animation, so that was a treat.Q: Did you do that on the first film, too?
EW: We did a lot of our recording together in pieces, but it was mainly done in Los Angeles. So the fact that we could all go to Australia, it made it even more immersive and it made it feel more like summer camp for all of us.Q: What do the new people bring?
EW: Well, Hank Azaria brings an incredibly gifted sense of improvisation and incredible voice ability as well. He's very similar to Robin in that regard. Hank has done voices for years; so he brings that incredible ability.
Matt and Brad, I think they've done voice work before, but I can't remember what they've done or if I'd ever heard their voices in animation before. They're so funny together, the way that they work together. They certainly bring comedy, but also a real sense of profundity with the questions that their characters are asking. Which I thought was really interesting in including this into the fabric of the piece.Q: In a way, their story echoes the main story.
EW: It does. It's almost comments on it, but also asking a much larger existential question. This going at it alone, exploring who are we in the context of the universe. Literally we're this tiny thing in the speck of the universe, and they're asking that question. Which I think is so profound.
The way that the underwater photography is done and the way that it's depicted, like when they actually look back at their swarm, it looks like the cosmos. There is this kind of connection to the much larger question of why we are here and what are we meant to do.Q: Well, there's a lot of that throughout the film. George has set it up so that there are times you pull back so you see the Earth and then you come back in. so without commenting vocally, there's that visual comment.
EW: Also, I think that what's happening in Antarctica, because our movie's set in Antarctica, ultimately acts as a sort of microcosm for the entire planet. I mean, what's happening environmentally, what's happening amongst these communities, communities not working together, communities working together. All of those things are ultimately just social issues and world issues that we feel and everybody can relate to.Q: Everyone can relate to the story in this one as well, because now Mumble is grown up and he's got a son and he's having the same kind of father-son issues that he had with his father.
EW: Totally. It's exactly the same thing. Mumble in the first film didn't want to sing, couldn't sing, couldn’t find a way to ultimately find his own voice and couldn't articulate himself until he started to dance, and suddenly he was ostracized. So Mumble, you would think, would be relatively adept at handling that issue. Erik doesn't want to dance and can't dance. So he has to find his own way and it's up to Mumble to sort of navigate through that.
I think Mumble's sensitive to it, because he experienced it. I think his initial tact is to tell his son that it's OK, that he can find his own way. But his son then becomes infatuated with the impossible, this notion of being able to fly and that's an interesting struggle because as a father, he wants to uplift and uphold Erik's belief that anything is possible, whilst also managing his expectations.Happy Feet Two is out on blu-ray and DVD now. Enter our competition to win a copy! Fluffy dancing penguins, what more do you want?! Enlarge