Actor John Leguizamo has been seen in brash and bold movies like Baz Lurhmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge,” but his more recent work has introduced him to a wider and even younger audience via the “Ice Age” franchise where he voices Sid, the sloth. In “Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie,” Leguizamo’s voice once again gives life to another character from prehistoric times.
Playing Alex the Alexornis, a sarcastic, amusing and very endearing prehistoric bird with teeth, he takes on the sort-of-buddy role to Patchi (Justin Long), who leads a migrating herd of Pachyrhinosaurus. Set in the Late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago of what is now Alaska, four million years before dinosaurs went extinct, the migrating herd meets both new friends and fearsome carnivores along the way.
“I was already in love with the BBC series ‘Walking With Dinosaurs,’” Leguizamo gushes about this project. “It was incredible, man; you just couldn’t believe what you were watching. It blew me away. It looked like actual documentary footage about dinosaurs.”
Describing the film as having “a sense of humor” and pretty “exciting,” he says, “I was ecstatic to be a part of it and to play Alex; it was a no brainer.” It did, however, pose a unique challenge. Playing a small bird that’s “a precursor to the parrot,” as he says, Leguizamo had to make his voice “seem small,” but also had to sound “patriarchal” when narrating.
“We ended up creating a really cheeky, sassy kind of bird. Alex is a fun, lovable guy who just roams around. He’s very loyal to Patchi,” he shares.
With his affinity for animation, Leguizamo points out, “I don’t do it for a pay check… I just love it, man.” He also reveals, “Cartoons were really my babysitters growing up; we were broke and we didn’t have babysitters. But I had Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and Huckleberry Hound to keep me entertained.”
These characters stayed with him for a long time and, in some ways, doing voice work for animation is his way of going back to that kid inside of him. Fascinated with how voice actors mold the character in animated work, Leguizamo says, “I always try to find a way of making myself sound like I’m coming through the body of the creature, as opposed to just hearing my own voice. I want to be the Latin Mel Blanc (the late American voice actor and comedian). That’s my goal.” (Annie S. Alejo/mb.com.ph)