London’s Empire Cinema in Leicester Square was transformed into a glacial grotto of childhood fantasy for the Gala Screening of Jim Carrey’s new family friendly film Mr Popper’s Penguins. Amongst the bountiful buffet of sweet treats and stuffed penguins toys, there were numerous celebrities all here to join in with the merriment. Unfortunately the child friendly kick off time of 10am resulted in a rather lowly collection of ‘famous’ guests but Flickfeast readers will be happy to learn that Asher D, once of so-solid crew can pull of a mean penguin impression, whilst hard man, slash ice skating dancer Donal McIntyre revealed he has a softer side, something his gritty documentaries may lead us to believe otherwise, and TV chef Aldo Zilli (no? Me neither) is taking up a healthier lifestyle and leaning towards vegetarianism, conveniently coinciding with the imminent release of his new vegetarian cookbook. Indeed it wasn’t the star studied feast of guests normally associated with such gala events but in attendance there was one of the film’s stars, the stunningly beautiful Ophelia Lovibond. The only cast member to make the early morning screening, Lovibond was pleasant enough to spare a little time to answer some questions for us, before quickly being whisked away moments before the film began.
Born in London, Ophelia is one of the country’s most promising young talents. She’s already appeared in such films as No Strings Attached, Nowhere Boy and London Boulevard. In Mr Popper’s Penguins she plays Jim Carrey’s PA, Pippi, a personal assistant with a penchant for alliteration. In this role Ophelia manages to not only compete with Carrey’s comic presence but match it with a wonderfully assured performance.
She revealed to the press that the film was “about a man who’d lost his way in what was important for him” and that “The penguins, remind him of what is important”. When asked about working with Carrey, perhaps one of this generations most revered comic actors (and to a lesser extent serious actors), she replied “I honestly couldn’t believe it until I was there” describing his comedy styling’s as “a genre within itself” and was pleasantly surprised that after reading the script that Jim would be involved, also describing the’ real’ Jim Carrey as “quietly charming” and “very softly spoken” – an interesting statement considering the numerous press reports in the past which implied Carrey was just as wild and uncontrollable off camera as he appears on it. Perhaps now he’s nearing 50 he’s beginning to calm down a little, a trait that perhaps illustrates his decision to star in such a relatively tame family movie as this.
As previously mentioned our time with Ophelia was limited to just a few questions but whilst the content below may be meagre I cannot emphasis what a genuinely pleasant, down to earth and glamorous young lady she is.
FF: This is quiet a big premiere for you today and perhaps one of your biggest roles so far, how would you describe your character to those of us who haven’t seen the film yet?
OL: She’s definitely there for the children, the way that all her words begin with the letter P, it’s something she doesn’t know she’s doing and children will look at that fondly, she’s a very simple comic device.
FF: And a lot of fun to play I’d imagine?
OL: Oh my god so much fun! And they would always give me extra words (beginning with p) and we’d do a take and then the director or one of the producers would shout another few P words at me and I’d have to switch them around. It was just kind of constantly changing and being tongue twisted before they shouted action
FF: Now this is your first ‘children’s’ role isn’t it, before this you’ve done a lot of, shall we say, grittier British films.
OL: Yes, like London Boulevard, that feels like a while ago now
FF: Many people would have seen you in ‘No Strings Attached’ what do you have coming up next, more filming in the states or will you be back home ?
OL: Next out is a film set in Bristol called Eight Minutes Idle
FF: Are you allowed to explain a little of what it’s about?
OL: Sure, it’s very different to this one. It’s a comedy again but it’s about a guy called Dan and it’s all set in a call centre. He’s never really taken an active role in his life; he kind of gets kicked out of his family home and has to live in his office, having to keep his cat there with him. Everything unravels until he meets Teri (Olphelia Lovibond) who’s even more wayward than him. But it’s a comedy; it’s a very bizarre comedy.
FF: As in a very British comedy? More mature than this I imagine
OL: Very different yeah, it’s certainly not for children; I wouldn’t recommend parents take their kids to see it!
When asked why people should rush out to watch Mr Popper’s Penguins, Ophelia replied; “For the penguins, they’re real penguins…. just go and see it for the penguins” a statement that after watching the film for myself I can wholeheartedly agree with, ‘just go see it for the penguins’ and nothing else.
Mr Popper’s Penguins is released 5th August
Image courtesy of Concorde Media