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David Schwimmer says, unlike giraffe Melman, he’s not a hypochondriac but, “I try to connect to the comedy ... of a guy who lives in fear. I’ve certainly had fears in my life.” PHOTO BY FRANK ISHMAN; All images: MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED ©
by Vivien Santana Hughes
We haven’t seen DreamWorks’s Madagascar gang of Bronx Zoo refugees in theaters since 2008. Now they’re back with Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted opening June 8. In a recent company earnings statement, Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted big numbers for this third installment. Based on a recent preview at the Director’s Guild, I’d say the DreamWorks Animation CEO may hit his mark: This is one franchise that seems to improve with age.
The cast of star character voices is back including Ben Stiller as the lion, Alex, and Chris Rock as Marty the zebra (whose circus-afro-polka-dot number – you had to be there – is one of the film’s funniest moments). And as you may recall from their African adventure in part 2, giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) become an unlikely couple in love. We chatted with Schwimmer, married to Zoe Buckman and father of Cleo, 1; and Pinkett Smith, wife to Will and mom to two stars in their own right, Jaden, 14 and Willow, 12.
As parents, we’re always multitasking so we love for our kids to be entertained and learn at the same time. What will kids learn from this film?
David Schwimmer: I think there are several great lessons – in addition to being, I think, hysterical and a wonderful adventure story and introducing kids to different wonderful cities across Europe. First, I think it’s about friendship and loyalty to your friends, and working through obstacles together and overcoming them, if possible. And the other thing is about facing your fears and, whether you succeed or not, it’s facing them and hopefully overcoming them, again, about challenging yourself and growth.
Jada Pinkett Smith: One of the things that I love about all the Madagascar films is that they are always dealing with friendship on some level, which I think is an issue that children, and even adults, are still dealing with – what is it to be a good friend? Also, one of the great things that the characters show in all the films is how we communicate with each other. And even though we might get upset and we might storm off at times, how we can eventually come back together. And I think, especially for children, that’s a huge idea, that you can use your communication skills in order to make things better, and that you don’t have to sit on your feelings.
DS: Oh, my. It would be something very romantic. Probably the Chrysler Building, a little tour of that, and then, maybe, the Rainbow Room. A walk along the Brooklyn Bridge ending in Dumbo with a great meal.
What’s it like to see your own kids in the spotlight? How do you advise them?
JPS: I get asked that question a lot. I’m glad that I have something like their careers to help teach them about life. Truly, it’s better than the environments that Will and I had to grow up in. So I would give them Hollywood any day than the streets of Philadelphia and Baltimore. Trust me.
And it makes me really happy to be able to see two young people take hold of their lives at a very young age and to see them blossom. As adults and as parents, our job is not to dictate what our children should do or protect them in a sense of keeping them from things, but to create situations that are safe in which they can have as much as possible and that they can learn as they go how to create the lives that they actually want.
Chat Room columnist Vivien Santana Hughes is a former L.A. Parent editor and the mother of three – one university grad, one in college and (surprise!) a 7-year-old daughter. They love Sunday mornings at the L.A. Zoo.
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