Brittany Murphy

I’ve been trained in dancing and I used to be quite good, though I am a bit rusty right now. But I could probably brush up in a couple of months. The funny thing is that I actually took classes from Savion Glover, who worked in Happy Feet, when I was a kid. Isn’t that wild? I was part of a selected group that was brought into New York from New Jersey (which is where I’m from) to study, every Saturday: ballet, jazz and tap. It was a musical comedy group.

I got a phone call from George Miller [the director] asking me to play this role. We sat down and he showed me on his computer a documentary-type montage sequence of real penguins swimming, in an Esther Williams synchronized sort of way, and doing things I have never seen them do. Then he explained his vision of the film, asked me to read the script and to voice the character. I was cast a little bit later, and he let me do the singing as well!

It was really fun and intimate in a way. Working with George Miller is exquisite. Gloria is different from anything I’ve ever played before. The first time I saw the characters in the studio I remember thinking that Mumble looked just like Elijah, with such a cute and endearing face. I don’t think Gloria looks that much like me.

I would hope with all my heart that people understand this and see it in the film. And there are also other messages in Happy Feet, like racial and environmental ones, but none of them are so overt. George has made a great story about penguins with a lot of humanity in it and audiences can follow a species we don’t know that well.