Jim Carrey, comic genius and respected actor, in Mr. Popper’s Penguins

“What was it like meeting Jim Carrey?”

I’ve been getting that question a lot. They want to know if he was crazy or hilarious or weird.

I have had the amazing privilege to meet and interview quite a few celebrities. They’ve all been really gracious, and the 20 minutes or so that we get to spend in a blogger roundtable discussion have seemed pretty normal. But some of the celebrities stand out. They try to connect with us instead of just sitting back and answering the questions — the same questions that they’ve probably been fielding all day.

Jim Carrey stood out for a lot of reasons. When he left, he looked those of us in the eye who said goodbye to him. You could tell he wanted to make a connection. When he shook my hand, he brought his other hand on top too. He was very warm and open. And see how it looks like I’m sort of squeezed in that photo, two people over on his left side? Well, I’m pretty sure that his hand was on my shoulder, as he opened his arms wide, connecting with as much of the group as he could.

He played to his audience, coming in to meet us, the parent blogger roundtable, on our terms, saying:

The Blogosphere. I love it! I love it! So, how do you feel putting all those newspaper reporters out of work?

We talked about the kind of thing that you’d talk about with anyone. Jim Carrey’s daughter has a son who is about a year old, and Carrey’s face lit up when the talk turned to being a grandfather. And then, suddenly, we weren’t in the presence of just another nice guy doing his job talking about his movie, we were sitting at a table with JIM CARREY.

On his grandson. . . .

He began mimicking the facial expressions of a toddler who knows that everyone is looking at him, saying “I am it. I know you want to see me. I know whenever I say hi, everybody’s going to laugh, everybody’s going to do their thing.”

As he described his grandson’s antics, he actually became that toddler, grinning and smiling and flirting, playing with sunglasses as he described his grandson’s latest discovery, beaming with pride just like any other grandparent.

He also demonstrated a love and concern for kids in general. He praised the actors who co-star in the movie with him, playing his kids on screen, “They are really talented kids, super talented, more so than you even see in the film. Madeline’s (Madeline Carroll) going to be a great actress.”

On child actors. . . .

But then he went on, “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.”

He told us that he had seen too many young kids there with overbearing stage parents who were in it for themselves, not for their kids. He said that child actors have to do it because they love it, not for any other reason.

On creative, bright, energetic kids. . . .

I was encouraged, as the mom of an incredibly bright son who also has amazing amounts of creativity and energy, because Jim Carrey was that way too. Jim Carrey was smart in school and finished his work, but then like many kids who are this way (and my own dear son), he would get in trouble because he distracted everyone else. His 6th grade teacher Lucy Dervadis finally figured him out. She channeled his energy by allowing him to have some time at the end of class to entertain his classmates if he would stay quiet while everyone else finished.

And so, 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. 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.

Jim Carrey’s co-stars say. . . .

After the morning of interviews, culminating with meeting Jim Carrey himself, I was left with such a respect for him as a person and as an actor. Praise from his co-workers came out in every single interview, spontaneously. They couldn’t talk about working on the Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie without talking about Jim Carrey:

Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper's Penguins

  • Carla Gugino, who plays his ex-wife Amanda in the movie:

    Jim is amazing because every take he tries something new, and that’s always really fun to work with, or at least for me. It’s great because he’s just experimenting all the time.

  • Angela Lansbury, whose character Mrs. Van Gundy stands in the way of Jim Carrey/Popper getting what he wants:

    He’s all business. He really is. He’s totally immersed in what he’s doing. And he’s very thoughtful, very considerate, and works with you.

  • Mark Waters, director:

    What people don’t know that about Jim is that he’s got these very accessible emotions and a lot of times when I see actors kind of doing an emotional scene, you feel them almost pushing, like trying really hard to be emotional, and he just can go to those places with great ease. And it’s a part of his talent, you know?

After seeing the movie myself and getting a peek behind the scenes, I totally know what they are talking about, and I’m telling you to go see the amazing Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, in theaters June 17.

Curious if it’s right for your family? Check out my review of the Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie.

Original post by 5 Minutes for Mom contributing editor Jennifer Donovan, who also manages 5 Minutes for Books, where she loves sharing her experiences with all sorts of stories in all sorts of genres.

Disclosure: Twentieth Century Fox sponsored my travel and other expenses for the Mr. Popper’s Penguins press junket, where I saw the movie and interviewed some of the cast and crew. They have asked me to post about my experience, but my opinions are entirely my own.

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  1. says

    What fun!! I would imagine that he would be a genuine kind of guy, because his sense of humor seems to be so integral to who he is. I imagine that made for quite a roundtable discussion. :)

    • says

      If you like Jim Carrey, you’ll LOVE him in this.

      What I loved about the movie is that there’s enough penguin silliness for kids, but enough plot for older kids and adults.

  2. says

    So cool you got to meet him!!! This is one of my kids favorite books, I am so going to have to take them to see this movie… I love reading all the background over here!!!

    • says

      Glad you like it! It’s been fun. The book is quite different from the movie, but I’m glad that they are both bringing attention to the other.

  3. says

    That is so awesome you got to meet Jim Carrey! I have the utmost respect for him as a person, artist and comedian. I know many people who suffer from attention disorders and I’m glad he has very positive things to say that don’t all end in medication. I can’t wait for this movie, it’s going to be a great one!

    • says

      Yeah, it’s good to see how someone with lots of crazy energy can use it! He was actually totally laid back and calm (but funny!) when we talked.


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