After four years of anticipation, Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the saber-toothed tiger have finally been thawed out for "Ice Age: The Meltdown," the sequel to 2002's animated hit.
This time, characters voiced by Queen Latifah, Josh Peck and Seann William Scott join the original oddball animals as they try to escape their valley's rapidly rising waters.
The sequel's stars reveal eight things you might not know about the "Ice Age" movies:
1. Why Sid has a lisp: "I looked at some Discovery Channel footage because I had given the director 40 voices," said John Leguizamo, who voiced Sid the sloth. "I was a sloth, so I was talking really slow." Leguizamo also attempted various nationalities, including an Indian Sid and an Irish Sid, before inspiration finally hit. "Sloths store their food in their cheek pouches, and it rots and ferments. ... So I walked around the house with food in my mouth because I wanted to see what happens, and then it was like, 'Oh, shoot. There's a voice!' I called the director and was like, 'Dude, guess who this is? It's Sid, baby!' " The downside, Leguizamo said, is the gallons of saliva he spits all over his microphone: "They wring it out at the end of the day," he said.
2. Ray Romano and Queen Latifah never met: In the sequel, Manny finds love in Latifah's free-spirit mammoth, Ellie. When you watch the movie, however, you may want to listen carefully for clues that they were never actually in the same room together. "I hadn't even met her until, like, a half-hour ago," Romano said last week. "It was tough for me. I had to do it, but it's tougher for them to piece it together — for the director to make sure that my emotion is matching her emotion. I'm just working off what the director is telling me. It's hard. It's strange, but I saw it, and it just works."
3. This is one hard-core Queen: Latifah is so devoted to promoting "Meltdown" that she recently spent morning, afternoon and night cooped up in a hotel room answering questions for the press — on her birthday. "Everyone has schedules. All these high-maintenance directors and actors," she said. "I'm just kidding. It's no big deal. Birthdays last a month where I come from anyways, so this is the first day of my birthday." At the end of the day, her co-stars made plans to surprise her with a cake, but Latifah wanted a different kind of celebration. "Let's have everyone bring me a different shot of tequila," she laughed. "It's a whole different 'Ice Age'!"
4. The movie has some funny jokes ... for the cast to poop on: "Crap is just funny," Josh Peck said of one of the film's gags involving a family of dung beetles packing up their precious belongings. "Poop is funny. ... Animation doesn't have to be for kids. It doesn't have to be for any set audience. This movie can be seen by people from 8 to 80, and they can all find something and appreciate it." In other scenes, child characters insist on calling a donkey an "ass," and another looks up at a quickly eroding waterway barricade and exclaims, "Damn!" "They're not afraid to take a chance on some of those words," Latifah said. "There aren't cuss words in this movie, really. A dam is just a dam, and a wild ass is actually a donkey. ... It was one of the words I could get away with saying as a kid too, because it wasn't a cuss word. It really was a donkey. So it was kind of funny to see that in the actual film. I laughed extra hard."
5. Scrat is the real star, and the actors are cool with that: "There's plenty of people upstaging me," Romano said. "The animation is upstaging me, Scrat is upstaging me, the two new possums are upstaging me, but ... there's always that character. Shrek is the guy, and all those little wild guys around him get to be little and funny. ... But that's OK because it still all revolves around Manny. He's the guy driving the movie, and he makes the most money." Latifah added: "I respect the Scrat. ... Nobody is more determined, more focused — not even the president of these United States is more focused than the Scrat. You feel me? He could teach us a lot."
6. John Leguizamo freaks out little kids: Voicing a beloved cartoon character can win over the hearts of millions of kids, but Leguizamo said it can also shatter some eardrums. "When I see kids, their parents go, 'Hey! This is the guy who plays Sid,' " Leguizamo said. "I do the voice, and I go, 'Hey kids! How's it going?' And they're screaming because they don't relate that you're the character from the animated movie. It's kind of weird for them."
7. Josh Peck hates his smile: "It was literally going into the booth and laying down the vocals and just bringing my life to Eddie and my own mannerisms to the character," the "Drake and Josh" star said of his first animated experience, as a hyperactive possum who hangs out with Seann William Scott's Crash. "There was a camera on you 24/7, so the animators could take your facial expressions and input them into the characters. ... When I crack up, you could see it. And then I'll see it in Eddie, and I'll be like, 'Whoa, I guess I kinda do smile like that.' And then I'll be like, 'Maybe I shouldn't do that anymore. It's kind of annoying.' "
8. Get ready for "Ice Age: The Polygamy Years": There's already talk of a third movie, and Leguizamo says the filmmakers can count him in — as long as Sid finally gets some sloth lovin'. "They mate slowly, which is good for the females," he said. "If they create another great script that tops this — and you gotta top this, you can't just coast — but if the ['Ice Age 3'] script is top-notch like this was, I'm down. I'll jump in. Where do I sign? Maybe I could find a couple [of female sloths]. I could do a [polygamy] thing, like [the HBO series] 'Big Love.' "
Check out everything we've got on "Ice Age: The Meltdown."
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