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Ice Age: Sid The Sloth's Voice Was Solidified By A Sandwich And A Phone Call

Given his accomplished career, it may seem odd that one of John Leguizamo's more memorable roles is that of the goofy but big-hearted prehistoric sloth Sid in "Ice Age." But, here we are. GQ recently asked the erstwhile voice of Bruno in "Encanto" during a video interview for some stories about his most iconic roles, and Sid was among them. Leguizamo has brought the character to life in all the "Ice Age" films (with the exception of 2022's "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild"), and the voice he came up with for Sid — slightly high-pitched, with a lateral lisp — remains one of the most recognizable aspects of them. Funnily enough, it was not the first voice he came up with for the character.

The GQ interview provides some interesting background into the evolution of what would become the original 2002 animated film. According to Leguizamo, "Ice Age" was originally conceived as a drama, with his character as the comic relief. Production soon realized that it would be better as a comedy and went back to the drawing board, coming up with an entirely new cast but leaving Leguizamo's more or less intact. In total, it took five years for Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox to retool the film into a comedy, bringing on Ray Romano and Denis Leary as other voice actors in the process. 

As "Ice Age" emerged out of development hell, director Chris Wedge encouraged Leguizamo to come up with a voice for the lovable Sid.

Leguizamo went full method to create Sid

As John Leguizamo details, he studied — albeit very briefly — under an icon of acting technique, Lee Strasberg. "My acting killed him," Leguizamo joked. "I was at the Strasberg Institute, I was doing a sense memory thing, he was gong 'that's terrible, that's awful.' Then he died that night." Strasberg indeed did die of an unexpected heart attack that night, meaning Leguizamo got to study with him for a grand total of one day, which he has spoken about before. 

Nonetheless, the broad strokes of method acting stuck with the actor. So when Chris Wedge said that he should just do his own voice for Sid the Sloth, Leguizamo insisted that he do his research and come up with something else, something new and unique. He would send Wedge tapes with different versions of Sid; Sid with a Southern accent, Sid with a "street" attitude, and even Sid with a Southeast Asian accent.

Wedge didn't like any of them, so Leguizamo asked him to send him some nature show footage to help him generate more ideas. "So I saw it, and they said that, you know, 'the sloth has its food inside its mouth,'" he said. "So I put a sandwich in my mouth, and I was walking around, trying to — you know, like 'how am I going to come up with thish ... thish character. Oh my god, thish ... thish is the voice."

Leguizamo then immediately called Wedge, in the guise of his newfound character. Wedge didn't recognize who it was. "It's Shid the Shloth," replied Leguizamo. "I found myshelf." The rest, as they say, is history.