you finish up the delicious dessert that will undoubtedly
put the perfect cap on Thanksgiving, you can get in the
Christmas spirit right away by tuning in for an all-new
holiday treat, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas,
airing Thursday, November 24 at 8 PM on FOX.
Featuring all of our favorite arctic characters like Manny,
Sid, Diego, Ellie, Crash, Eddie, Peaches, Scrat and more,
this special TV event is sure to get us in the mood for
the holiday season.
Our favorite arctic herd is busy decorating for it after
all! But things go awry when Sid accidentally destroys Manny's
favorite decorations and an upset Manny convinces Sid he
is now on Santa's naughty list. Now, you know that won't
sit well with Sid. So, what does he do? Well, head to the
North Pole, of course! But things only get worse as the
herd must come together and orchestrate a Christmas miracle.
Not only is this special a great way to get in the Christmas
spirit, but it's also a nice treat as we wait for the fourth
installment of the Ice Age film franchise "Ice Age:
Continental Drift" in theatres July 13, 2012.
PCM had the opportunity to participate in a conference call
with the voice behind the beloved mammoth, Manny - the one
and only Ray Romano! He had plenty to share about
to what to expect from the holiday special, what went into
it and even a few holiday traditions of his own! Read below
to see everything he had to share!
Back when you did the first movie of almost 10 years
ago people didn't realize how big these animated films were
going to be. How surprised are you that it's had a life
of its own and "Ice Age" has been seen by a zillion
people and they keep making more. So what did you first
think about when you first saw the script?
Well, I mean, at that time there were successful animated
movies. So I knew that if you did it right it could be something
that is successful. I read the script and I enjoyed the
script. It had a nice story. It had a nice moral. It has
a nice message.
Then I met the director, Chris Wedge, and he came in and
he kind of pitched the look he was going to go for and what
he was trying to get. And I had seen the short that he won
an Academy Awards for that he did. And it had such a great
look and creative feel to it. I knew-so I just kind of got
the sense that this was going to be a quality thing and
this was in the hands of some pretty talented people.
Did I know that this was going to happen that we were going
to make a fourth? No, I didn't know that. I knew we were
going to make a good movie but who can tell. You know, there
are a lot of good movies and for whatever reason this caught
on. I think it's very well done and I think it has a good
message. I think, yes, it's just something that caught on
with the audience.
I noticed there is a lot of new animation coming out
this Christmas for holiday shows. I'm just curious, do you
have favorites of your own that date back when you were
a kid, or even into more recent times animated specials
for the holidays?
Well, for the holidays-you're going to age me now. But
I always remembered "Charlie Brown." That was
when I think of my childhood and I think of Christmas and
watching an animated film. There weren't many then. I'm
talking about in the 60s now. It's "Charlie Brown Christmas,"
and the tree and Linus. That's where I go. And then, there's
"Charlie Brown Halloween," and the great pumpkin.
That's it for me. There's nothing else for me in my memory
of my childhood that stands out.
Now, of course, there was a couple as I became a young
adult "The Grinch that Stole Christmas" and whatnot.
But now, there are so many of them. Yes, but for me, I go
right to "A Charlie Brown Christmas." That brings
back memories. It's very nostalgic for me to see it and
it's still on now. It still holds up. My kids watched it
when they were at that age and pretty soon my grandkids
are going to watch it. Oh God, I'm old.
playing Manny so many times now, how do you find your way
back into the character each time to separate yourself?
Does it get easier between films?
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 going." 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
First of all, did you do this recording for it at the
same time as "Continental Drift?" Was that kind
of-or did you do it earlier or when?
Yes. We get them together. When I would go in for a recording
session for the new movie like the first hour or so would
be for the special. For a couple of recording sessions we
piggybacked them together.
And can you talk about that plot a little bit?
The new movie more is about the daughter that we have,
Peaches, now is a teenager. It's kind of about that, 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. Does that make any sense? Clean that
up. I'm done.
What is it about Manny that you think people will be
able to relate to?
Well, he's kind of the every man 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.
What do you think is the best thing about doing the
animation as opposed to regular acting?
Well, it takes getting used to. The best thing is the fantasy
of it all and here you can relate to everybody; adults and
kids. It's timeless. It'll last. The actual procedure for
an actor is kind of hard to get used to because it's just
you in a studio. I know this is the fourth one I've done
and I've never been in the recording studio with another
actor. We're always on other sides of the country or this
and that and you have to do it in piecemeal.
So that's kind of hard to get used to. But the pros of
it is, yes, being able to be in this world, this fantasy
world, and be able to take your kids and your friends kids
and everything. It's just fun. It's fun. It's not an easy
process but it's fun when it comes out.
talked about your process for doing voice work on the "Ice
Age" movie. But can you talk about just like your daily
process regarding that, your preparation? When you're actually
in the studio what kind of cues you get from the director,
or whoever else is kind of helping you bring your character
Well, it's such a weird process because, like I said, it's
done in such piecemeal. And what happens is I get the script,
the original script, and you've got to remember this takes
a year and a half to two years sometimes of recording. And
you go in and you record for like a four-hour session and
then you don't get another date to record for maybe two
months-a month, two months, three months sometimes. And
in that time they're storyboarding it and rewriting it and
the script gets rewritten continuously.
So each time you go in you don't know what scene you're
doing. You don't know where you are and it's in such piecemeal
that the director needs to tell you, "Okay, here's
what's happening, the dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. You're falling
off the cliff and dah, dah, dah." So, you really have
to just get ready for every line.
Every line the director has to tell you, "Your daughter
is lost and you haven't found her. And now you're on this
ice shelf and the shelf is ...." And each line you
just have to prepare for each line from what he gives you.
So it is a weird process in that sense. But it's also kind
of exciting that every line-one line you're being soft and
emotional and the next line you're falling down an ice mountain.
Now, I know that Manny is trying to uphold his traditions
with his family in the half-hour special. Do you have any
particular holiday traditions? Are you really into the holidays
with your family?
Yes. Yes, Christmas is a big one. I force the kids not
to open-the kids want to open and all the gifts and presents
Christmas Eve. And I'm a strict "Christmas morning"
is the morning. And a lot of people do Christmas Eve and
it kind of drives my wife and the kids crazy. But one of
my childhood memories is that Christmas morning, coming
down, trying to wake your father up so you can get down.
And he's got to go in the bathroom and shave and do whatever
he's got to do and you're dying to get down there.
We're past waiting to see if Santa came but my youngest
is 13. So he's still excited to get down and find what new
videogame he's got. So that's big. Midnight mass is a tradition.
I am a midnight mass guy before Christmas Eve. So me and
the family go to midnight mass. That's big.
Then there are always the relatives on Christmas Day.
Now we're here in L.A. and they're in New York. So it's
a switch back and forth. Sometimes they'll come out here
or we'll go out there. For Thanksgiving it's either we go
to New York for the big Thanksgiving dinner/try to watch
football or they'll come out here. But yes, we like to keep
those things. My family gets a big kick out of doing all
the things the way I grew up, even though they get a little
anxious and want to update it. I try to keep them from-and
keep the traditions alive.
What is it like going from standup where you have a
full theater of people and a sitcom where you have a live
audience to, kind of, the imploding silence of the booth
when you go into record and you've just got your-
like I said, it takes awhile to get used to. To be totally
honest, on the first film I had no idea, you're right. It
was such a difference for me and when I went in and recorded
there's no feedback. There's nothing. I seriously thought
I was going to get fired.
Like the first couple of sessions I would tell my manager,
"You'd tell me if they fire me right?" He goes,
"Yeah, yeah." I go, "Don't wait, just tell
me. I can take it." And the next recording session
I would be, "All right, well let's see." And then
I would come out of that one and think, well, now they'd
really have to fire me. Because it is so bizarre. It's such
a weird genre in that sense, yes.
Did you ever expect the "Ice Age" franchise
to be as big as it was now?
I did not and I still am baffled. Like after we did the
third I said, "Wow, this is a great franchise but it's
three and out, isn't it?" And sure enough the fans
just wouldn't let it go. I knew that if they came up with
an interesting story-it's good, it's great. But you also
want to make sure you're not overdoing it. You're not overstaying
it. But I really enjoyed this last one we did. Again, they
have other stories to tell. The baby is now a teenager and
it's a whole other set of circumstances.
You know, with such a strong background in comedy, I'm
wondering if you can share what you feel is the formula
for good comedy, be it, in animation, with "Ice Age,"
or in front of the cameras with standup or other acting
Well, there's different formulas and there's different
things that work for different people. But what works for
me and also what appeals to me is, and it seems cliché
but it is the truth. It's relatability. Any standup-I love
all kinds of standup but the standup that I was really drawn
to and influenced me was like Bill Cosby. Guys who talk
about family and life and things that you experienced and
then they made it funny.
And that's what worked for me. That's what worked in "Everybody
Loves Raymond." That's what we did. We took our own
life experiences. Again, this is animation. It's "Ice
Age" and it's animals talking but underneath it all,
at the core, are just problems and relationships that people
identify with. That's kind of half the battle in comedy,
I think, is people identify with it and then, yes, you make