For adults, Ray Romano might be best known for his mega-successful sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, but to kids he’s Manny the Mammoth in the Ice Age series. In his third outing, Manny and his wife Ellie are expecting a mini-Mammoth. But as stressful as that prospect is, Manny is more freaked out when he discovers there are larger mammals on Earth than he is – dinosaurs.
You probably know your character fairly well at this point, so what was the challenge in coming back for the third film?
It was the same challenge as always, just recording without the other actors being there. We had to do one scene particularly, the laughing scene, because Manny had never really laughed before, so that was a little difficult. But the hardest part is just the physicality of it, standing in front of the microphone and pretending that you’re wrestling a dinosaur, it’s kind of weird, you’ve got to get used to it.
Dinosaurs weren’t around during the Ice Age.
When people say that dinosaurs weren’t in the Ice Age, animals don’t really talk either. We’re pretending. And, by the way, 99% of the population doesn’t know that dinosaurs didn’t exist during the Ice Age, so don’t tell anyone.
Why don’t the dinosaurs speak in the film?
Oh come on, dinosaurs don’t talk, that’s ridiculous [he laughs]
When you did this, did you go back and watch the other movies to get into the same mindset?
I didn’t watch any of the previous movies, I don’t know what [the other actors did]. People just think that I’m talking [in my own voice] when I’m doing Manny, but there’s actually a voice that I’m doing. I have a couple of lines from Ice Age that ramps me into Manny. (he does Manny’s voice) ‘I’m not going.’ It’s a little more nasally, and I become Manny. In my head I hear the voice and I’m doing a character, but everyone thinks it sounds like me.
Does being a stand-up comedian help you when you have to be isolated in the booth doing this kind of work?
As a comedian you’ve got to get used to [the fact] that except for Carlos and the sound guy, nobody there is laughing at what you’re doing, so you’ve got to believe that it’s funny.
What has been Manny’s arc throughout the series of films?
He was kind of a misanthrope in the first film, with a real chip on his shoulder. Little by little, Manny’s developed friendships, found love, and become a more well-rounded guy. He has a good, typical marriage with Ellie. Manny and Ellie are ready to start a family, which is a very natural thing.
Why do you think the franchise is so successful?
It’s the dynamic [between the characters]. Not to bring up my show, but in Everybody Loves Raymond, I was the voice of reason because there were crazy characters, the brother, the mother, they were all nuts and I kind of had to keep that crew together. But then the wife was really the overall voice of reason, then I was the crazy one, which is kind of the same [in this]. I’ve got all these crazy guys around me, I’m trying to keep them [together], but then Ellie kind of reels us all in.