The Ice Age films are the second biggest animated motion picture franchise in the world, and on July 22nd, Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth in the series, premieres.
Scrat’s continual pursuit of the elusive acorn throughout the movies this time catapults him into the universe, where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that threatens the Ice Age world. To save themselves from the incoming asteroid, Manny, the wooly mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), his wife Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Sid, the sloth (voiced by John Leguizamo) and his grandmother, Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes) must leave their homes and embark on a new adventure, and all of this just as Manny’s and Ellie’s daughter Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer) is getting married.
The actors came together at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, to talk about their characters and the franchise they love.
What are your characters going through in Ice Age: Collision Course? A lot is going on with the pending apocalypse and Peaches’ pending married.
Ray Romano: I have a daughter who’s around the same age as Peaches. As a dad, it’s bittersweet. You want your daughter to be happy and to find somebody special, and yet you think whoever she does find isn’t going to be good enough for her. And that’s who Manny is.
Manny is a lot like me, only better. He’s a family oriented guy who likes the status quo. Manny doesn’t appreciate too much change; unfortunately for him, in his world and family, there’s nothing but change.
Queen Latifah: Ellie understands why Peaches wants to leave, but it’s still a lot for her to process. After all, Peaches is still her baby, and it’s hard to see her pull away. Of course, Manny’s taking it even worse, so it’s just crazy between the two of them.
John Leguzamo: Sid is always honest in his reaction to things, no matter how disastrous that thing may be. He’s also evolved and become responsible, and has earned the trust of the herd.
We all have a little bit of Sid in us – that cockeyed optimist who is always positive, no matter how much he messes up.
Wanda Sykes: (Granny) is still throwing shade at everyone she meets. She has so much fun pushing everyone’s button. She has absolutely no filter.
How does participating in these films improve you as a performer?
Romano: It’s another skill you’ve got to develop. I know in the beginning it took me awhile to emote without (anyone playing opposite me). I don’t know where that helps you in acting, but it is another skill.
Leguizamo: But don’t you think being a stand-up (comedian) too helps you to do the voices, because you’re used to being in front of a mic by yourself.
Romano: Yeah, but you’re still feeding off the audience with stand-up.
Leguizamo: Right, but you still have the crew, you can make them laugh.
It was complicated at first, because there’s no visual, there’s no cartoon, there’s no other people’s voices, you just have script and then they draw according to your emotional cues.
You have to feel free, and it takes a while to feel free, then it’s great. You’re by yourself; nobody is nagging you or looking at their watch. There are no agents going, ‘When is my client going to get the time?’ (they all laugh)
What is it about this franchise that keeps bringing you back?
Sykes: For me, it’s being able to have something out there that the whole family can see. The first one I did, my kids were too young to get that I was the voice and they didn’t believe me. They said, ‘You’re not that cool.’ This one they’re old enough and I’m going to score some points.
My kids can’t come to my shows, when I’m on stage and I look out and I see a kid (in the audience), I think, ‘Who the hell brought their kid?’ So it’s nice having something that they all can see.
Do you pop in an Ice Age movie before starting a new film in the franchise to remind yourself where your character’s at?
Romano: I’ve always had this one line from Ice Age (the first movie) that gets me back in character, and that’s where Sid is telling me that they’re migrating to the south, and I just say, ‘I’m not going Sid,’ and I just say that over and over.
I’m not kidding. Every recording session I just say that over and over. People don’t think I’m doing a voice, they think it’s what I sound like, but in my head I’m doing a voice.
Latifah: I just say,’ Manny, Manny, Manny,’(says it in different ways) with the real kind of nasally voice. I’m always calling him for something, and that lets me know I’m back in the family again.
Just the word that another Ice Age movie (coming) through the pipeline of your people, whether it’s your agent or you manager, is a magical thing that seemingly magically comes together and you’re in it, you’re a part of it.
You get the script and it’s exciting because again, for the same reason Wanda is going to be a hero to her kids, I’m going to be a hero to my nieces and nephews again, who called me Auntie Ellie for months at a time.
This will be part of their childhood memories, their life experience and I think that’s very cool.
Leguizamo: I’ve met 20-year-olds who grew up with Ice Age, they were five-years-old when the first one came out. I don’t know what that says about us, because I was a lot older than fifteen when it started.
Romano: The real Ice Age didn’t last this long!