Friday the 13th might be scary for some, but for the millions of fans of the Ice Age movies, it’s the day they’ve been waiting for. This Friday, July 13, the fourth installment, Ice Age: Continental Drift in 3D, opens in theaters. Sid, Scrat, Manny, and Diego get together once more to embark on their biggest journey yet.
The incomparable John Leguizamo has been giving Sid a voice for 10 years. We caught up with him for an exclusive interview.
DIRECTV: What do you think of 3D technology? How does it add value to the Ice Age franchise?
John Leguizamo: I really think 3D works for animated movies because you can really maximize the ice, the water, the graphics; you really believe you’re in that world. And especially for kids it’s the most fun. This is such a beautiful movie for little ones. It keeps it to good healthy laughs.
DTV: Do you think this movie is very different from the first one, technology-wise?
JL: Oh yeah, it’s like light years of difference. You can’t believe 10 years have gone by. The technology is so different. I mean the hair is so realistic now, the water, everything. The details are incredible.
DTV: How did you come up with Sid’s voice?
JL: Sid is a sloth. I never figured a sloth could be me because I’m a New Yorker and I talk really fast. So I told the director how about a southern voice? Or how about a street voice? He kept telling me it didn’t work. So I found on Discovery Channel that sloths were so slow that fungus grows on them and they fall off the trees. One day I was eating sandwiches around the house thinking, how am I going to come up with this voice? I started talking with a lisp. That’s when I called the director and said, “Hey, I found the voish, thish ish it!”
DTV: Do you ever fear you won’t nail the voice at the start of a new movie?
JL: I practice the voice, a lot. They give me the script a couple of days before we start recording and I start doing tongue twisters, you know, seashells by the seashore, those kinds of things to get it just right.
DTV: You do a lot of one-man shows, which are mostly for adults (like Ghetto Klown). What’s more challenging, speaking to grownups or to a younger audience?
JL: Speaking to a young audience is more difficult because you can’t go for the easy low-brow jokes. I mean, you have to know how to stay with good intentions, stick to good values. You still want to be funny! It’s a great challenge, but jokes can be funny even if they’re not dirty. You’ve got to keep it clean.
DTV: You have two young kids. How do they feel about Dad being Sid?
JL: They love it. They do the extra voices of the animals, the baby dinosaurs, they do the screams and laughs. We had a special screening for them and their friends came. It was a blast.
DTV: Do you ever interact with Ray, Denis, Queen Latifah, and the rest of the cast during the recording or do you just get together for the premiere?
JL: I usually see them when we’re doing press. It’s been 10 years and I’ve seen them four times. We spend a lot of time doing press together and that’s when we hang out. I got to know Ray and Queen the most out of everybody.
DTV: Sid’s grandmother, Granny, seems to be a very cranky character.
JL: [Laughs] Oh my God, she is God’s gift to this movie. She is so funny and such a perfect fit for Sid. I mean, Sid’s been longing for a family and here she is even if she’s abusive and crazy, but just funny as hell.
DTV: Were you close to your grandparents growing up?
JL: Oh, yeah! I loved my grandparents. They weren’t abusive like her, but that’s ok.
DTV: And speaking of your childhood, what were your favorite cartoons or movies growing up?
JL: Oh, my favorite stuff growing up is all obscure now. I mean Marine Boy, Kimba the White Lion, all the Marvel comics. We watched Fantastic Four and the Iron Man cartoons. They were so bad. They were like cutouts and then the voices would talk and the characters would barely move. But I loved them! You don’t care if it’s a marionette or a puppet, when you’re young you let your imagination go.
DTV: Do you have any anecdotes about doing this movie? Anything funny you’d like to share?
JL: Lot of crazy things happened! They had me doing a rap song at the end of the movie and I had to do special recordings of it. I had to do it a million times so I could get the voice, the rap, and the beat all together. The problem was that I would get the beat but it sounded like me, then I sounded like Sid but I would get off beat. They brought a special rapper to come in and coach me. It was hilarious.
DTV: Was it your first time singing in a movie?
JL: No, I sang in Moulin Rouge and a movie called Sueño, but it’s not my thing. I’m an actor. Trust me, I’m not going to steal anybody’s music gig.
DTV: How would you feel about an Ice Age 5?
JL: I already told Mike [director Michael Thurmier] the story! I want it to be Manny, Sid, and Diego in Jurassic Park. It involves scientists bringing back DNA from the Jurassic Park era and we are all trapped in a theme park and have to escape. Lots of live action. That was my pitch.