Robin, what did you learn from doing Happy Feet?
Robin Williams: The bottom line is some of the things I already knew about the nature of over-fishing and environmentally, the one thing that isnt in this movie but is actually happening is Antarctica is melting. Both North and South Poles are turning into a pool, literally. There are large areas that dont exist anymore. Initially, we were going to just go down and shoot plates but they thought about it and it was too late. Areas were disappearing. Areas the size of New Zealand and New Hampshire would melt which, if youre living by the sea, youll notice. In 10 to 15 years, youll really notice.
Also, the idea of the industrial fishing affects everyone. Those factory ships play this game of hit and run with the international fishing limits, and somebody said its like hunting squirrels with a bulldozer. They pull everything in and they are only looking for certain types of fish and everything else dies and they just throw it back. Its like chumming. They just basically destroy and have just fished out large populations of fish throughout the world. If your population depends on that, youll find your food source rapidly depleting, and its been done over a period of the last 10 years. Its mainly a few countries and you know who you are. This issue of controlling that As they push their way further north, it really screws up the entire food chain and were at it. That, combined with the issues of other creatures and their existence, the number of extinctions recently has dramatically increased. I knew that coming in, but I learned more about it.
The most amazing thing about this, which George talks about, is theyve given penguins very unique characters. Each one of these penguins is recognizable. When you first look at them you go, Dont they all look alike? Yet, the way theyve done this has given them great character. Thats why, initially, I think some studio executives said, You cant do movies about birds because they dont smile. But, they got great expression from these penguins. With the animators and the gift that theyve given, and George with them has given this incredible animation combined with water ballet numbers that, pretty much, Esther Williams on acid couldnt do. The idea of something so extraordinary, Ive learned about that, and so beautiful. Great beauty exists in this world and shouldnt be allowed to deteriorate.
Also, Mumbles character, the idea of whether hes dropped or not, theres always someone pushing the envelope in terms of performance or being slightly out there or different, that takes us to a new place. His desire to explore and say, Wait a minute. I dont accept this, thats not just talking about evangelicals but the idea of how do you survive? Its by actually going, No, no. This is not right, and dealing with that. As human beings, we have to wake up or were gone. The penguins will go first and then itll be us because, as a species, were kind of holding on.
I was watching this BBC film last night which talks about exploring other planets. We are surrounded by a lot of failed ecosystems; the moon being one, Mars, Venus. Theres evidence of water on Mars and rivers and it didnt take. Also, we have planets to guard us like Jupiter and Saturn that take the hits of the comets. It is miraculous that we exist on this planet, that it took. There are others, I hope. Will we find them? I hope but, right now, the idea of existing together and protecting, for our own sake... because our survival depends on it.
Once [the penguins] die off, its the tip of the iceberg, once again bad pun but, these systems exist together and when the poles melt, water rises large portions of this world will be underwater and other parts will be in drought. The hurricanes now, theyve gone through the English alphabet and are now using Hebrew letters. There are massive amounts of scientists now saying, You can address this, whether through alternative fuels or whatever, but there are ways of doing it. Australia with no ozone, it cooks people. Without ozone you fry and without a magnetic field well also fry. Here are huge things. Does a little penguin movie help? Maybe. The idea of having a good time with it is great and maybe something can come under the radar, thats kind of wonderful.
Elijah, what do you want kids to take away from this?
Elijah Wood: I think the outstanding message for children I think adults can take something from it, too, is that sense of individuality. I think we all go through life, particularly as young people in a school environment, the most typical place where we experience that sense of having to conform and not being accepted or having a character defect or some defect that people pick up on and excise you from that community. But I think adults can relate to that too. Its something we experience in all ways of life. For kids to see this character who is largely not accepted by his penguin family, by his friends or the community at large because he dances and he doesnt sing the beautiful thing about Mumble is hes beautifully unaware of it. Its not so much confidence in the beginning. He just doesnt see that theres anything wrong. He then, as a result of that, goes on this journey to truly establish who he is, and to look for greater answers for these questions that he has. But I think its a great message for young people to realize these things that separate us from each other are ultimately what make us who we are. Thats something to celebrate.