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November 2008
MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA | An Interview with Jada Pinkett Smith

An Interview with Jada Pinkett Smith
by Wilson Morales

November 3, 2008

After seeing how much her children, and as well as the rest of the world loved her as Gloria the hippo in ‘Madagascar’, it was only a matter of time before the producers and studio greenlit a sequel so that Jada Pinkett Smith and the rest of the gang that includes Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, and Sasha Baron Cohen could come back and reprise their roles in the sequel, ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’. Along with the regulars, newcomers to the sequel includes Sherri Shepherd, Will.i.am, the late Bernie Mac, and her daughter Willow in a small role. Will.i.am plays Gloria’s potential love interest,

In speaking with Pinkett Smith, she spoke about coming back for more fun, Willow’s part in the film, and missing Bernie Mac.

So is the second time the charm?

Jada Pinkett Smith: Yes, it is. This is a really cute, cute film.

What do you get to do differently in this film from the first one?

JPS: Gloria has a love interest, which is nice. His name is Moto Moto, who’s being voiced by Will.ia.m. He’s very funny. I like his voice.

Did the two of you talk about the project prior to shooting it?

JPS: No, we didn’t. He’s doing a music project for Madagascar that he wants to hook up on.

Are you going to sing on it?

JPS: That’s what he says. I don’t know.

Did your kids help you get involved in the film?

JPS: No, not at all, but Willow has a small role in the film. She plays young Gloria. She was able to participate and see how the process goes .

What was it like having your daughter in the studio?

JPS: Oh, that was (Laugher) so cute. Because she'd been asking. She was like, "So, how does that work? How does the animation thing work? Mommy, what happens?" I'm like, "Oh, boy." (Laughter) So, it was great when I got the phone call sayin', "Would Willow like to play, you know, little Gloria?" And so she got to come in and do some lines.

Did they like the first film?

JPS: They loved it. My oldest son did, and I was really shocked. "Mom, I wanna bring my friends over and I wanna screen Madagascar." I'm like, "Are you serious?" (Laughter), that was a, quite a joy on the first one. 'Cause I was expecting the little ones to love it. My 13 year old, Jaden, was like, "Yeah, I wanna have a screening for my friends."

When you do a film like this with so many comedians, do you feel you have the funny bones to be on par with them?

JPS: I do. I feel like I’m funny. It can be intimidating. I’m just myself, and never think about having to come up with a funny line. That’s not me. I leave that up to Chris (Rock) and Ben (Stiller). I’m just me and I try to be fun, instead of funny, and hope that maybe some funny comes out.

What is it about Gloria that you see in yourself?

JPS: It’s one of those characters that is difficult because of the process and the type of process. You’re standing in front of a microphone all day long. You don’t to get to interact with the other characters. You’re not in an environment… you’re on a soundstage basically. It doesn’t leave a lot of room to grow in that way like you do if there were a live action film. But, I always feel that these films leave a lot of room to exercise the imagination; because, that’s all you’ve got. In terms of what’s relatable, Gloria is comfortable in her own skin like I am. So, she can really just be wherever she is

What can you say about the triangle between Moto Moto and Mehlman?

JPS: Well, it's funny, because when you have a friend for so long who knows everything about you, all the good and the bad. And loves it all; and then you have this guy who has this kind of superficial idea of who you are. He's just seen what's on the outside. He doesn't care about what's going on, on the inside.

Which of the new characters did you like?

JPS: I like Alex’s parent. The Bernie Mac character, to me, was just fantastic.

Did you get to interact with Bernie on the set?

JPS: I didn't. Not on this particular one. But I know Bernie. And it's funny, 'cause I'd saw the movie the day before he passed. And I was just tellin' the young lady at DreamWorks (PH), she told me that he was ill. And I had no, I didn't know he was in the hospital. I said, "Oh, man, I gotta reach out to Bernie." And then I looked the next morning, my husband was like, "Bernie Mac died." That was unfortunate, But I did have the opportunity to know him. He was a great guy. He was just so real. and always so humble. He was just a joy to always be around.

How was directing ‘The Human Contract’?

JPS: I loved it. It’s an erotic drama.

What made you decideyou wanted to direct a film?

JPS: I’ve always known I wanted to do that. This is the next journey for me, being behind the scene. I just produced ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ with Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys. I also have a couple of TV projects that I’m developing and producing. As a woman, I need to be behind the scene and creating those projects that have a voice for women.



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