Max Greenfield in the studio to record the voice of his character, Roger the Dino-Bird.
In Ice Age: Collision Course, Scrat’s (Chris Wedge) epic pursuit of his elusive acorn catapults him outside of Earth. He then accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the planet. To save themselves from peril, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary) and the rest of the herd leave their home and embark on a quest full of thrills and spills, highs and lows, laughter and adventure while traveling to exotic new lands and encountering a host of colorful new characters.
Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg, Wanda Sykes, Seann William Scott and Josh Peck are back reprise their roles. Some of the colorful new characters are voiced by new cast members Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jessie J, Nick Offerman, Melissa Rauch, Michael Strahan and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Another Ice Age rookie includes Max Greenfield, who plays Roger, part of a family of Dino-Birds. The Emmy-nominated actor jumped at the chance to be part of the long-running franchise.
“I was so excited and flattered when I was asked to be a part of this. It was the biggest no-brainer ‘yes.’ It was one of the jobs outside of ‘New Girl’ that I was really excited to do. I have a six-year-old daughter and I’m like, ‘I’m in something that we can experience together.’”
Every actor knows to research a role and Greenfield tried to do his homework. Unfortunately, Dino-Bird is a rather broad description of a category of dozens of bird-like dinosaurs. Remember when you thought you had a brilliant answer the first day of class that would totally impress your teacher and that answer didn’t leave the impression you had hoped? Yea, Greenfield had that experience his first day on set.
“I remember when I walked in and I felt very smart for like half a second. I had taken my daughter to the Natural History Museum and we had gotten a book with all the names of the dinosaurs. One was called an Archaeopteryx. I thought I was pretty fancy and I walked in with the producers and said, ‘so is my character an Archaeopteryx?’ and they’re like, ‘no, actually not.’ They’re similar to a degree though.”
When actors record their voice-over, they are videotaped from the shoulders up so the animators can see what facial expressions the actors make when saying certain lines or words. When possible, the actor’s facial expressions are then incorporated into the character. Greenfield was able to see some comparisons between himself and Roger.
“I feel like Roger is probably a better actor than I am [laughs]. But yea, I know all the sessions are videotaped and there are little things here and there. You know what you’re doing with your voice and the inflections that you’re doing with certain words. When you watch it, you’re like, ‘I can see what’s happening here. That’s one of the most exciting parts about watching the film.”
For an animated film, you need clean audio to mix with the video. When two actors try to record voice-over together, there will be overlap and the editors can’t get the clean audio they need. So, for practical reasons, actors must record their voice-over alone in the studio. The good and bad thing about recording voice-over for an animated film is that you don’t work with other actors.
The solo voice-over recording is good in that you only have to concentrate on your own role and don’t have to worry about interaction with another actor. That’s also the bad thing. How do you react to another actor’s line when they’re not there to say it? This ends up being one of the most important jobs for the directors and producers of animated films and Greenfield shared a little about how the process works.
“We do all of our stuff solo. The directors come in and know what is happening so specifically on the animation side that they’re our best guides. They know exactly what they need and what they want. They know what’s going on. Like with this film, there was so much going on with rocks and explosions and stuff. They would come in and we could go over each line individually and walk us through it. As much benefit you would get from being with the other actors, I don’t know that it would work.”
Every aspiring actor dreams of landing a hit show and Greenfield did with “New Girl” which will be airing its sixth season this fall and is now part of the lucrative syndication universe. The problem with being a part of a successful comedy is that casting agents can only see you in a comedic role. Courteney Cox, for example, had to lobby hard to win the role of Gail Weathers in Scream because people could only see her as Monica on “Friends.”
Greenfield, though he might have struggled early on after “New Girl’s” success, has managed to avoid the typecast category lately. Along with Ice Age: Collision Course and “New Girl,” in the past year alone, he’s had roles in Emmy favorite “American Horror Story” and the Oscar-winning film, The Big Short.
“I’ve been really lucky as an actor to do some different things and to work with some really amazing people. I certainly like the challenge outside of ‘New Girl.’ It would feel weird to do something like ‘New Girl’ outside of ‘New Girl’ that we shoot eight months out of the year.”
Ice Age: Collision Course opens in theaters July 22.
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