In a flurry of fake snow and Arctic-themed decorations, Happy Feet Two (2011) premiered earlier today in Central London. Directed by George Miller, the movie brings back the talents of Elijah Wood (Mumble), Robin Williams (Ramon/Lovelace) and Hugo Weaving (Noah the Elder) as the voices of the singing and dancing penguins, and also sees the addition of new characters: the penguins Sven – voiced by Hank Azaria – and Carmen (Sofía Vergara), as well as the two krills Bill and Will (Matt Damon and Brad Pitt).
Following on from the 2006 original Happy Feet, this second installment introduces us to Erik, Mumble’s young son who – unlike his father – is unable to tap dance. Unhappy about being seen as ‘different’, Erik sets out to find himself and meets Sven, a penguin who can fly. Fascinated by his new friend, Erik wants to be like him, but he soon finds out that everyone has a different purpose in life and that everything can be overcome if we all do our part.
In attendance at the premiere was Elijah Wood, who returns to voice the penguin Mumble, and told us a little about his now grown up character and about this second chapter of the story. “He’s a father now. The real journey for the character is to try and establish a relationship with his son, which proves to be quite a difficult thing for him. In terms of what’s new for the film, it’s in 3D now so it’s much more epic, and there are some wonderful new characters.”
So how was it to come back to the world of Happy Feet? “It was easy” stated Wood, “we’d done all the establishing in the first film in terms of who these people were, so this time around it was sort of just slipping back into it. And I like the character of Mumble, because he looks for the best in every situation, and tries to appeal to people’s better nature. We see him really challenged and stressed in this film, but he always looks at difficult situations with the same perseverance, and I love that about him.”
The message of this movie, Elijah said, is “still about individuality and looking for the things that makes us different in ourselves, that define us” but also “about community: ultimately, at the end of the film, it takes everyone working together to achieve a common goal, and I think that’s a beautiful message”.
Also in attendance was the beautiful Sofía Vergara, who agreed with Wood – Happy Feet Two sends a very uplifting message. And did she enjoy getting involved in it? “Yes. Going to do the recording in Australia with the whole cast was a lot of fun, because they’re amazing. I wasn’t nervous, I was a bit concerned maybe, but to be in the same room with such amazing actors – it made everything really easy.”
In attendance too was US comedian Robin Williams, who also enjoyed recording the voices. As in the first movie, he plays two characters – the penguins Lovelace and Ramon. Talking about the whole process, he told us that “It’s like a wonderful vacation, a paid vacation where you get to spend two weeks in a room with the other actors…the difficult part comes for the animators: three years of work, ten hours a day, frame by frame…”
Just like Wood, Williams was also part of the original cast. How was to come back to Happy Feet? “It’s so sweet to be in the same room with everybody else, with the same guys…all the Amigos, the Latino penguins, they are like the Chicano comics, it was like a crazy family everytime I saw them. It wasn’t a challenge – on the contrary, it was very relaxing.”
“Unlike the first time, this time we all went to Sydney, and we did recording session where there was almost the entire cast, so it was much more immersive, we were in the world of the film for much longer.” His message for the fans? “I hope you take something away from it – there are some beautiful messages. But it’s also very enjoyable…enjoy this movie, it’s in 3D”.