LOS ANGELES — Morgan Freeman is getting some tail — and a very bugged-eyed look from a brown lemur named Taj who is crawling all over him.
“You know, they have four fingers and an opposable thumb,” he says, allowing the lemur to wind around his neck and walk across his scalp. A handler looks ready to take Taj away, but a blissed-out Freeman waves him off and allows himself to be used as a jungle gym. “I usually don’t let people in this business walk on me this way,” he jokes.
Freeman narrates the IMAX 3D documentary “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” opening Friday at Navy Pier Imax.
Q. What is it you love about the lemur?
A. Right now in this room is the first time I’ve had such a close connection with the lemur. I do have a friend who has a place in the Caribbean and he raises them. On a visit to his place, I guess a year ago, I was introduced to them up close and personal. They’re obviously in a little bit of trouble and he’s doing what he can to rejuvenate their population. I got a little bit of history about them, but not close to what I got from doing this movie. They’re terrific little creatures.
Q. Are you an environmentalist?
A. We’re turning everything on this planet into food for humans. If it lives, we’ll eat it. If we can’t eat it, we’ll kill it and move it out of the way. The amazing thing about Madagascar is there were no humans when the lemurs came so many years ago, so they flourished. They flourished without us. And now there are people, so they’re not flourishing. It’s a tragedy.
Q. What drew you to this film?
A. I thought we should give some consideration to the other life forms on our planet, I’m happy to do it. It’s an obligation.
Q. You narrate nature films and host a Science Channel series. Could you see yourself as a man of science?
A. I think you have to be left-brained to understand science. I can talk about it. I can’t do it. I was a B student in math simply because my teachers liked me as an actor.
Q. At Cinemacon this year, Johnny Depp said you had the voice of God. What do you think of that comment?
A. I don’t know if that comes across to people. It’s a wonderful comment, but that’s not the way I think about it. I’m just a barefoot boy who made good — and has a distinct voice.”
Q. We just heard you in “The Lego Movie” and you have a full slate of films for 2014 and 2015. How do you do so many films in one year?
A. It doesn’t take very long to do a movie. I always hear, “Morgan, would you mind doing this part in this movie? It’s only for a week.” My response: “Wow, you could do 52 movies that way.”
Q. At 76 years old, what’s left on your bucket list?
A. I have a film company and I want to make a film that gets a Best Picture from somebody. Everyone says I should do it, and I love people who agree with me.