Interview with Jonathan Morgan Heit of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates: Peter Pan Returns”
I recently had an opportunity to chat with Jonathan Morgan Heit, star of Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns which arrived on DVD and Digital Copy on April 3. In this great adventure, Peter Pan is back – but his shadow is missing! When Peter loses his shadow while playing a game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can, he returns to Never Land to seek help from his kid pirate friends Jake, Izzy and Cubby.
Jonathan Morgan Heit plays the lovable Cubby. I was already a fan of this special young man since he played adorable Patrick in Bedtime Stories and Oliver in Date Night, and he is one busy little dude. He is a top student, plays several sports, acts, directs, sings and is already working on several great philanthropic projects. At a mere 11-years-old, he has already begun a great career and is ready to help change the world.
Jonathan Morgan Heit began acting at only 4 ½ years of age. His professional acting debut was in 2006, when he appeared in the television series Close to Home and General Hospital. In 2007, he appeared in two more television shows, ER and the talk show The Showbiz Show with David Spade. Some of the highlights of his movie career, thus far, include roles in Bedtime Stories, Valentine’s Day, and Date Night, just to name a few. He has also directed two short films.
His television career has included roles on How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, voice over for Santa Buddies and he is, of course, the voice of Cubby on the television series Jake and the Never Land Pirates which is Disney Junior’s uber popular series for children through age 7.
Jonathan has a heart for doing good in his community and the world. He has been active in serving with the Los Angeles Mission, Book Pals, Autism Speaks, and the Lollipop Theater Network. He has been featured on a special series, Young Icons, and by the end of this interview I hope you will understand why.
Brenda: I know the Jake and the Never Land Pirates series has been very successful and I know you must be super excited about the release of the feature-length animated adventure Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns. How has it been for you working in the studio for both the show and the movie?
Jonathan: It’s really great because I get to work with Madison Pettis and Colin Ford and everyone is really great. And now I get to work with the new Jake, Cameron Boyce. And, of course, I got to work with Peter Pan who is a great actor and it was really cool because Peter Pan is such a classic character and it was awesome getting to do a movie with Peter Pan.
Brenda: When you’re doing the voice over, are you actually watching the animation on a screen while performing your lines or are you just in the studio with a mic and a script and a chair?
Jonathan: It’s kind of the second one but it’s not as dark as it sounds (chuckle). It is great fun because you get to work with all the other people so it is fun, but you are in there with only a script, a chair, a table and a mic. But it’s really cool because you can go in there in pajamas and it doesn’t matter. How many people get to go to work in their pajamas?
Brenda: I really like Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns because the writing is terrific, the animation is perfectly done, and it gets kids up and moving. It is also a great way to introduce important life lessons to kids. What drew you to the role of Cubby?
Jonathan: Well, I really like the role of Cubby because, like you said, in the script they might not say “you shouldn’t do this” or “do that” but it is kind of subtle like, “oh don’t get mad at Captain Hook he has his reasons” and stuff like that. Also, Cubby is funny because he always has his map. So, whenever they have to go somewhere he says “we have to go this way, then this way, then this way.” Whenever I go on a trip with my family, I always have the map. Do you really? Yes, I am always saying go right up here or left here it is really funny.
Brenda: You know, being a writer for Chip and Company, I am a humongous Disney fan and I know you have recently been to Disneyland. Have you ever visited Walt Disney World?
Jonathan: I haven’t actually been to Disney World but I really want to. We want to because it is so huge in comparison to Disneyland. I really want to go and I think we are going to probably end up going soon.
Brenda: For all of our Chip and Company Disney lovers, I am going to ask you a series of quick answer questions about Disneyland. Just give me a quick response to each, OK?
Jonathan: OK, ready.
All-time Favorite ride? Tower of Terror and California Screamin’
Favorite park food? Funnel cake
Favorite Disney character? Mr. Smee, I really like him because he is really funny. Besides the classics, I think he is a great character. Captain Hook tries to force him to be evil but he is funny and tries to be nice when he has to do what Hook says.
Favorite Disney princess? Belle
All-time Favorite Disney movie? Lion King
Brenda: What do you think of the new Jake and the Never Land Pirates makeovers at The Pirates League – pretty cool huh? Kids can be dressed as Jake and get a Jake and the Never Land Pirates bag and everything.
Jonathan: That is cool, I will have to check it out when I’m there. I think it would be fun if we could have Cubby looking like Cubby!
Brenda: I know you love acting and that you have already completed a couple of courses at the New York Film Academy. What are your career aspirations – acting, directing?
Jonathan: Actually I have already directed two films (It Happens and Coincidence) and I really want to do that later on as it’s really fun. Also acting is great, because when you work on a movie everyone is like a big family. You get to know everyone on the set and that is really great because you build real connections with people you didn’t really expect you would.
Brenda: You have already begun a wonderful and very promising movie career and you have been able to work with some A-list stars. May I ask whom you would love to get to co-star with but haven’t met yet?
Jonathan: Well, I am open to everyone but I think it would be really cool to work with Morgan Freeman.
Brenda: I am on the Board of a foundation for orphans in Kenya that began exactly 11 years ago tomorrow. I find it strangely ironic that today I am interviewing an 11-year-old young man who has such a heart for charity and has even begun a charity for Kenya as well. I have read about your Crowdrise “Kids for Kenya” campaign and I must say that I am so proud to meet you. You have such a great heart and you have the celebrity to really make a difference. Can you tell me a little more about “Kids for Kenya”?
Jonathan: Sure. I went to Kenya last summer and my aunt has always been working in Kenya and has an organization called NextAid that uses the power of music to improve the lives of kids and adults affected by AIDS. So, through NextAid, I started an organization called Kids for Kenya. There is a place I visited called the Kawangware Vision Centre and what they do is provide positive opportunities to get kids off the streets from the slums and give them food and shelter and all this great stuff. I was thinking, you shouldn’t do things for them, you should help them do it themselves. If you coddle something and don’t let them do it for themselves then you leave, or can’t fund them anymore, they won’t know what to do. So, I am interested in helping them raise money to help the kids there. It’s a great organization.
Brenda: Here is a topic that I know is near and dear to you, from where did you develop such an obsession for shoes?
Jonathan: Well? I have no idea where my shoe obsession comes from (chuckle). I think it’s that it’s one way for girls but different for boys. I mean girls’ clothes have a lot of different options: colors, different dresses, ruffles and stuff, but it’s not so much for boys. It’s more just like normal shirts and stuff, so the shoes are a way to express yourself because you can have the craziest shoes you could ever imagine and you can still wear normal clothes. I almost just want to start my own shoe company, I mean for younger kids there’s not that many different shoes. You’d expect there to be more really cool shoes. I mean, there are baby-size shoes which are really cool because Jordan and Nike are making baby versions of the big shoes. But, they don’t make the middle sizes, and I have small feet – I wear a size 5.
Brenda: You are clearly an inspiration for young people all over the world. I saw you featured on Young Icons and you most certainly are one. I understand you are the first kid spokesperson for Soles4Souls. Will you please tell me a little about Soles4Souls?
Jonathan: OK, well Soles4Souls is an organization that gives shoes, nice shoes, to kids all over the world who need it. The problem is, just like I saw in Kenya, people are walking around without any shoes and there was glass, nails, and harmful things to your feet and they had no shoes. It’s really not good for your feet. So, Soles4Souls gives shoes to people who need it. Next summer, I am going to Haiti and I am going to be able to give shoes away there.
You don’t even realize what a difference a pair of shoes can make. I mean, right now I don’t have shoes on and I’m pretty cold. And the kids run; I mean I met a kid in Kenya and I asked him where his school was and he said it was about 10 miles away. And I was like, ‘10 miles, do your parents have a car?’ And he said “no,” and I said ‘well how do you get to school every morning?’ and he said, “I run.” And I was like ‘without shoes on?’ I mean it is a far distance to run without shoes and he does that every single morning.
Brenda: I know you are extremely smart, what are your favorite subjects in school?
Jonathan: My favorite subjects are math and science. I like Math because of the numbers and Science because it is exploring things. I like pretty much all subjects but I read a lot of scripts and I am a good reader but, being an actor I read scripts like every single day so rather than sitting down to do English and reading, I would rather go out and do sports. This year, I have really liked history because of what we are learning: ancient civilizations. I really like that.
Brenda: I know you really enjoy playing sports, what are your favorite sports to play and which ones do you like to watch?
Jonathan: For playing, the order would be lacrosse, basketball, and tennis. For watching, it would be basketball, soccer, and football.
Brenda: Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I wish you the very best of everything life has to offer. Keep up the good work with your acting and your charities. And from me, and all of us at Chip and Company, happy soon to be 12th birthday on July 16!
Jonathan: Thank you and good luck to you too!
- Jake And The Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns DVD Giveaway (chipandco.com)
- Photos: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns Premiere Event (chipandco.com)