Super spy teams aren’t born…they’re hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitest of the elites are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his real name, but then…you know), voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich, from destroying the world as we know it.
The Penguins’ transition from beloved supporting characters in “Madagascar” to headlining their own big screen epic was a no-brainer, thanks to their memorable traits. “What drives the Penguins in all the films are their distinct and strong personalities,” says director Eric Darnell. Adds director Simon J. Smith: “They’re like a band of brothers who above all value their friendship, moral code and love for one another.”
Most importantly, the Penguins really bring the funny. “The most exciting thing about the project was to experience the story’s and characters’ humor,” says producer Mark Swift. “They’re so appealing because they are so hilarious.”
There’s Skipper, voiced by Tom McGrath, who created the characters for the blockbuster animated feature “Madagascar,” which he helmed, along with Darnell. McGrath had originally envisioned Skipper being voiced by an authoritative Hollywood icon with “a momentous, straight-man kind of attitude” – but when that didn’t work out, he ended up with the role, himself. “Well, I was cheap, anyway,” he jokes.
McGrath’s Skipper is the team’s fearless leader and keeper of the Penguin code. He demands loyalty, obedience and order from his regimented flock, and asks nothing of his men that he wouldn’t do himself. His right-flipper man, Kowalski, voiced by DreamWorks animator Chris Miller, is the brains of the operation, and the go-to guy when the Penguins need a quick, life-saving fix.
The third member of the team, Rico, is “voiced” by DreamWorks Animation artist and Madagascar 3 director Conrad Vernon. Rico lives to blow things up. When he’s kept on a tight leash, Rico is an effective weapon, but left to his own devices is a loose cannon. Finally, there’s Private, voiced by DreamWorks Animation editor Christopher Knights; although he is the runt of the team, Private has the biggest heart of them all. Private is always up for new challenges, but because the group still sees him as the “baby,” he’s often sidelined during their missions.
Each of the Penguins makes a memorable impression, and collectively, they’re a force to be reckoned with. “The sum of the Penguins is greater than the parts,” says Darnell. “The guys work incredibly well as a group – far better than they would as individuals. They’re like four parts of a complete brain: You’ve got Skipper’s leadership, Private’s heart, Kowalski’s smarts, and Rico’s courage. So the four of them make this whole, and that makes them a lot of fun.”
A DreamWorks Animation feature, “Penguins of Madagascar” opens November 26 nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.