Madagascar plays to Pinkett-Smith’s maternal strengths

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When you’re one half of a Hollywood power couple, it doesn’t hurt to embrace what little down time you get together.

That’s why, rather than party hard for their September birthdays, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith - who both act, sing, write, produce, direct and generally hone their business empires - packed themselves off to the mountains for a few days.

“We spent time in nature and just reflecting on what we want for ourselves this year,” says Pinkett Smith, 41, who returns to voice the hippo Gloria in the third Madagascar film.

“It’s very funny because our wedding anniversary is on New Year’s and we always use that as reflection on how we’re going to journey through the world together next year too.”

She and the man formerly known as the Fresh Prince have been married for 15 years. Together they have two children, Jaden, 14, and Willow, 11, and Pinkett Smith is also stepmother to Trey, 20, (“my bonus son”) from Smith’s first marriage to actress Sheree Fletcher.

Much like Gloria, who she considers to be “the momma” of the Madagascar pack, Pinkett Smith likes nothing more than embarrassing her kids with a whole heap of mamma love.

“Now my sons have got girlfriends coming into the house and I’m like, ‘You’ve got to give mom a kiss before you leave’,” she says, laughing.

“They’re like, ‘Oh mom!’ But I don’t care who they’re with, OK, whether it’s their friends or girlfriends, it doesn’t matter to me.”

During the Nineties, Pinkett Smith starred opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor and made an impact as an unfortunate victim in the opening sequence of Scream 2. But she’s probably best-known as the take-charge Niobe in the hugely successful Matrix sequels.

In2005 she lent her voice to Gloria in Madagascar. “She’s kind of the glue,” says Pinkett Smith of the hippo alter ego she returned to three years later in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

“I used a lot of my maternal instincts for her but she’s also pretty sassy and has a lot of strength and a lot of confidence. She’s very comfortable in her own skin and being who she is.”

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is in cinemas now