Exclusive Interview With Jim Carrey

If you love to beat the heat by taking your kids to the movies, first on your list should be Mr. Popper’s Penguins, starring Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury and six adorable REAL penguins. In anticipation of the film’s opening, on June 17, Jim Carrey sat down with reporters to discuss the movie season’s first live-action family comedy. I’m Not Obsessed was invited and I am SO THRILLED to post this!!

When we first sat down, Carrey asked the bloggers’ roundtable what we thought of the movie and was pleased to hear that we genuinely liked it.

“I’m not the guy who really wants to go out of his way to do something soft, like without kind of a rock and roll edge to it,” he said. “But, I really kind of felt touched by [this movie],” he said. From there, he was on a roll.

Did Mr. Popper’s Penguins make you think a lot about doing more stuff like this, or say to yourself, “Oh, I should probably be doing more stuff with my kids.”?

Yes. Well, I was already in a good place with my daughter. We’ve done really well together. But, yes. I mean, it’s definitely a recognizable theme and certainly something that’s really prevalent for everybody nowadays. Everybody has to work and everybody’s got that kind of guilt feeling, “Am I spending enough time,” and, “Do they have my full focus?” The most important thing in the world is to make your kids feel like they’re the most important thing to you.

What was it like working with your younger costars?

Great. They are really talented kids, super talented, more so than you even see in the film. Madeline’s going to be a great actress. I always worry for kids when I work with them that they’re going to make it through okay, because it’s a really tough thing for an undeveloped ego to handle that attention and that extra energy like that coming at them.

There’s a book called Drama of the Gifted Child. Steve Martin gave it to me, actually. He said, “This is a really kind of good clue into kind of where you might have come from a little bit.” And I don’t think it totally applies, but I think it’s really an important thing for parents to realize that they’re there to love their kids, their kids aren’t there to love them.

They will, if you love them. But, it’s not their obligation. It’s up to us to love them and let them go and do their thing and not go, “You’re not making me feel good.”

Did you get in trouble at school a lot for having so much energy?

I did until I had one teacher that was so smart in the sixth grade, Lucy Dervadis. I can never remember her new name. She talked to me later. But, she sent me back a lot of the pictures of her being assassinated in several different ways that I used to draw at the back the class. She confiscated them in school, and then she sent them back to me when I got famous. You know, the missiles hitting her and stuff like that. It’s unbelievable. And she kept them. I would always finish my work first. I would finish and then I would disturb everybody by being funny and doing disruptive things in class. And so, she had the brilliant idea of saying, “Jim, if you just sit there and be peaceful, be calm, don’t bother anybody after you finish your work, I’ll give you 15 minutes at the end of class to do whatever you want in front of the class.” I would finish my work and then I would start writing routines. And I would write, “Okay, today I’m going to imitate the principal in the boy’s locker room looking at their underwear,” and stuff like that. And I was completely politically incorrect and all of that stuff. But, she came up with an idea. It’s like such a clue into kids. Instead of giving them drugs for ADD, find an outlet.

Did your live television experience help you maintain your composure during filming with unpredictable penguins? There is a dinner table scene that seems very unscripted yet you never break character.

Yes, yes. All those nights at the Comedy Store knowing I’m not going to say anything I said the night before, getting chairs heaved at me and stuff like that. They were supposed to sit in their seats and peck the fish off the plate and everything. It’s like can you act in the midst of chaos, you know?

And so, the camera goes back, they say, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s no lines really. You can just make something up,” or whatever. And I say, “Okay. Okay.” That’s enough of a task to try to think in the moment what you’re going to say. But, then there’s these penguins behind these broom poles. By the time they pull the camera back, the penguins had gone so mental that they were just like, “Screw it,” and they were up on the table, all over the plates and stuff, and all over the place. And inside my mind I’m just going, “This is amazing.

Written by Dana Sullivan Kilroy

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