'Island of Lemurs: Madagascar' Premiere: Morgan Freeman and Lemurs Steal the Show

Associated Press
Morgan Freeman

"We were able to bring lemurs right up into people's faces," writer Drew Fellman tells THR of the 3D documentary.

Dr. Patricia C. Wright's nearly 30 years of research and mission to help lemurs was brought to the big screen at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Saturday. Audiences enjoyed the full experience of Island of Lemurs: Madagascar in Imax 3D. The documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman, is also the first and only 3D film to ever be made in Madagascar.

"There's a lot of use of 3D at the moment, which is not particularly constructive for the story. Imax films are really designed to take the audience somewhere and situate them there. 3D is a big contributor to that when the story is in a jungle or forest. It was natural that we would explore 3D in this situation," director David Douglas told The Hollywood Reporter.

Writer Drew Fellman agreed it was necessary to use the technology: "We were able to bring lemurs right up into people's faces. They are some of the most gorgeous, strange-looking, cutest animals in the world that you've never heard of, and then they're right in your lap."

Fellman also noted that along with 3D technology, the documentary needed a guiding voice. "[Freeman] just elevates it to this amazing level. Lemurs have this cinematic story, and we needed someone of his skill and stature to tell that story."

Anthropologist Mireya Mayor, who cites Dr. Wright as an inspiration and mentor, said of the film's narration, "It is the voice of God coming over and telling you about these amazing animals. I can't think of anyone who could have done it better."

Hank Baskett even got starstruck when seeing Freeman on the red carpet. His wife, Kendra Wilkinson, joked, "I'm a Morgan Freeman stalker." Besides being a huge Freeman fan, she also shared her love for animals. "Anything I can do to help save and help protect and bring awareness to the world and animals, I'm there. The best thing that entertainment can do is bring us awareness in a beautiful way."

The film's hero, Wright, shared her gratitude of having Freeman join the documentary. "I mean there's nobody better than Morgan Freeman. He really loves animals, and he really cares about the habitat, so in addition to having that great voice, he also has his heart in it."

The feeling was mutual. Freeman said his favorite part of joining the project was meeting her. "Someone who fell in love with lemurs and went to school, got herself a Ph.D. and went to Madagascar -- that's an awesome story right there."

Freeman's last bit of voiceover to the film sheds hope that audiences will continue their help toward the highly endangered lemurs even after the credits roll: "The best stories in nature are the ones that never end."

Scott Foley, Chris and Martin Kratt, Chuck Liddell, Jason Priestley, Nicole Ari Parker and their families attended the Madagascar-themed afterparty with a trampoline, trapeze, natural drinks from Clover Juice and ice cream cookie sandwiches from Manhattan Beach Creamery.