“Ice Age” characters help Santa in “Mammoth Christmas”

By Stacey Harrison

Nearly 10 years after the first Ice Age film hit the big screen, the stars are back for a holiday adventure that sees the prehistoric gang trying to save Christmas after they inadvertently wreck his workshop. All the original voice actors are back, including Ray Romano as Manny the woolly mammoth, John Leguizamo as the accident-prone sloth Sid, and Denis Leary as the feisty sabre-toothed tiger Diego.

Romano spoke with reporters recently about getting into character each time for Manny, placing these prehistoric characters in the modern-day trappings of a Christmas story, and spoke a little bit about the upcoming fourth Ice Age movie, Continental Drift, coming next summer. Ice Age: Mammoth Christmas airs 8pm Thursday on FOX.

On getting back into character each time: “It takes a couple of minutes when I get into the recording studio. I have a line that I use as my mantra, my way in. And it’s a line from the first movie were Sid is trying to get him to go somewhere and he just gets into Sid’s face and he says, ‘I’m not goin’.’ So I repeat that about a dozen times until I feel it. And the thing is, when people hear the movie they think that that’s just me doing my voice and it’s not. I’m tweaking my voice. It’s Manny. I can distinguish between my normal speaking voice and Manny. I am doing the character. And yes, at this point, it’s as simple as that. It’s just repeating that line over and over again.”

On the oddity of seeing prehistoric characters celebrate Christmas: “That doesn’t quite make sense. I never got into that, and it’s the same with when we did the dinosaurs [in the third Ice Age movie] and how the logic behind it. You’ve, kind of, got to let that go. Mammoths don’t talk either. So, I just give over to it. It’s just a story and it’s fun to combine Santa with this world. So, I don’t think anyone — I think the audience that we’re going for, it is not going to bump for them. But I have had that question though.”

On the enduring appeal of Manny: “Well, he’s kind of the everyman mammoth. He’s a little bit of a curmudgeon on the outside but we know he’s got a great heart. He’s a big hulking figure but he’s a softy, really. And yes, it’s the family aspect of it. He’s a family man. And the family is the most important thing to him. So he may seem like a grouch but he sticks up for his friends and his family. I think people know people like this and people are like this. And, I think, people just relate to the values that he has, the family values.”

On what to expect from Ice Age: Continental Drift: “The new movie more is about the daughter that we have, Peaches, now is a teenager. It’s kind of about Manny dealing with a teenage daughter. You know, there is so much crazy stuff that goes on but underlying it all is just the plight of the families and friends and all the trials and tribulations of being a family and a parent. That’s what this one is. It’s her trying to go out on her own and have a boyfriend and this, and that, and Manny has to learn to let go. But there’s a great adventure which moves the story.”

Photos: © 2011 FOX Broadcasting Co.

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