In Happy Feet 2, you voice both Latino firecracker Ramon and the soulful, laid-back Lovelace. How do you juggle the two roles? I do Ramon earlier in the day, as he’s the more active character. I have to get in touch with my inner Latino penguin – it isn’t hard as I’m a hopeless romantic, too. Then later on I’ll do Lovelace. He’s got that deeper Barry White kind of thing going on. I grew up in Detroit and I’ve heard a lot of Baptist preachers, so I can find that kind of voice very easily.
And you’ve been doing some romancing of your own recently?
Yes, I got married (to graphic designer Susan Schneider). A friend of mine said getting married for the third time is like bringing a burns victim to a firework show. It’s pretty wonderful. I’m so lucky, she’s the best. I met her outside an Apple store – Steve Jobs, God bless you. I was getting some sort of headset and we just started to talk and it was wonderful. I thought ‘I know you’.
How good a dancer are you? I’m horrible. The only time I’m really good is when I’m dancing with my wife, kind of swing dancing – because she’s there, it makes it easier. If I’m dancing free form it’s scary… My teeth start to appear. What’s that about?
In the film, Lovelace wears a very striking stripey jumper. Can you tell us about your favourite jumper?
I like camouflage, so I’ve got lots of camo jumpers. I have this one camo cashmere sweater, which is surreal. I’ve picked them up through my trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, where I’ve been several times to do stand-up performances for the troops.
What’s it like performing at an army base?
It’s been really fun, and kind of weird, too. A lot of times I could only perform for 40 or 50 people indoors because it wasn’t safe to do the performance outdoors. One time I landed at an operating base and there all these guys going “Mork, what are you doing here?” Another time we were doing a show at an air base and I looked over and saw all these Australian guys sitting on a fuel truck smoking. They were like, “Don’t worry Robin, it’s diesel, it’ll never catch on fire”. It was pretty crazy.
How concerned are you about the environmental issues explored in the film?
I find it pretty scary. The saddest image in this movie is an image of a polar crouched on one tiny piece of ice and you know that’s not going to end well. I live in San Francisco, and the idea of San Francisco becoming like Venice one day is frightening. Do I still drive a car? Yes. Do I have an electric car? Not yet, but I’m trying to get one.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I’m both. My mother was an eternal optimist and my father was a hardcore realist. So I come and go on both sides. Sometimes I go “oh no”, other times I go “I think we can make it”.
Happy Feet 2 is out on DVD on March 26. Read our interview with Robin’s Happy Feet 2 co-star, Elijah Wood.
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