Among Netflix’s latest releases this week is the heartwarming and heart-wrenching true story about a family adopting an injured magpie in the wake of their mother’s recent paralysis. Penguin Bloom stars The Impossible actress Naomi Watts and The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln. The actors portray Australian couple Sam and Cameron Bloom, who told their story through a best-selling book back in 2019 before being adapted into this inspiring movie.
The title refers to the oddball name the Bloom children gave their magpie. While Naomi Watts’ Sam is feeling stuck and isolated without the ability to walk, she seeks solace in taking care of the magpie. When CinemaBlend spoke to Watts, she told us about her initial thoughts about heavily co-starring with magpies on the set of the film:
I’m super interested in all creatures great and small. I wasn’t a huge fan of birds, particularly magpies, because I had a bad experience as a kid riding horses. I got bombed, 'swooped,' they call it by them, so I didn’t think they were particularly friendly or good birds, but they’re so smart and we had an incredible trainer.
Getting pooped on by an animal (especially as a kid) wouldn’t exactly elicit the strongest or fondest reaction in working with one, but Diana actress Naomi Watts rose to the occasion for Penguin Bloom. I’m sad to say Watts had to face the situation again with one of the magpies, as she got “swooped again” right on top of her head and it trickled right into her mouth, per The Age. But hey, they do say never work with animals for a reason or two.
Magpies are common in Australia and said to be one of the most intelligent birds (and animals) in the world. They get a bad rep for launching their droppings from the sky, but they actually have the capacity to develop lifelong friendships with humans, along with being monogamous among their magpie mates. Naomi Watts elaborated with us about working with them on the set of the film:
This was something I was most nervous about, how we would get them to tell the story we were trying to tell. They need to be emotive, they need to be connecting with us. It was definitely a guessing game some days on set. Are we going to be able to get them to perform this trick we need them to. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but we might get something else. It was a wait and see what you get.
Penguin Bloom definitely educates and exposes the audience to the unique sensibility of the magpie through this beautiful story about a family’s journey to heal from a tragedy. Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln worked closely with the Bloom family for the Netflix movie, particularly by filming the movie in their actual home. Watts was also given access to Sam’s journals from the time she was dealing with the depression and powerlessness before facing it head on and Penguin came along.
Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln star in Penguin Bloom, now available to stream on Netflix. Be sure to check out what else is coming to the streaming service this year here on CinemaBlend.