Continental Drift,” both starring John Leguizamo, are scheduled to drop June 13 on PBS and in theaters, respectively.
When he’s not talking with a lisp as a furry, wide-eyed sloth, John Leguizamo prefers taking his talents to the stage, the Broadway stage that is.
Leguizamo is the voice of Sid in the “Ice Age” movies and has acted in films such as “The Happening” with Mark Wahlberg and “Righteous Kill” alongside Robert De Niro. He has also guest starred on NBC’s television series “ER” and “My Name is Earl.”
His passion, however, lies off-screen in theater.
“My biggest love is the theater. I think there’s no experience like it. It’s like religion,” Leguizamo said in an interview with The Lantern on Ohio State’s Center for Study and Teaching of Writing’s “Writers Talk.”
A documentary of his rise to Broadway “Tales from a Ghetto Klown” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift” are scheduled to drop Friday on PBS and in theaters, respectively.
“Tales from a Ghetto Klown,” he said is about the making of his latest one-man-show “Ghetto Klown,” which he performed last year on Broadway.
Mentioning it took three years to shoot the documentary, Leguizamo said, “It shows everything about how to go to Broadway.”
Leguizamo specializes in writing and performing one-man shows; he has produced five, three of which have been performed on Broadway. “I created my own hybrid, which is kind of part play, part standup,” he said.
“Ghetto Klown,” his third Broadway show, is the first show he translated to Spanish so that he could perform it in his homeland of Columbia. Despite the translation process taking a year and some American jokes not translating well – prompting “crickets” from audiences — Leguizamo called it “a big hit” in Columbia.
“Ghetto Klown” centers on how he became an artist and crosses his talents into movies, film and theater, all of which are outlets he said he intends to continue pursuing.
“That’s my goal, is to do them all, going between television, movies and theater … Everybody does nowadays,” he said.
Leguizamo dubbed theater, however, as the most challenging form of acting, Broadway specifically.
“Broadway is the peak. It’s the apex of theater. I always wanted to go to Broadway. To get there, it’s not as easy as it looks,” he said. “To stay there and to keep coming back is a tough thing. But I love it. It’s like getting a ring, like Lebron (James) getting a ring.”
Another career challenge he said was finding the voice of Sid, something which took five years to develop. “Sloths are by nature very slow,” he said. “I’m a New Yorker. I’m fast talking.”
Offering samples of voices he experimented with for the character, such as an exotic voice, southern twang and Indian accent, Leguizamo said he wanted Sid to sound “street and ghetto.” He turned to Discovery Channel for some knowledge on sloths.
“I found they (sloths) are so slow fungus grows on them. They store food in their cheek pouches and it ferments and it turns to alcohol and they get drunk and they fall off the trees,” he said. Recalling how he walked around with a sandwich and rambled in a muffled voice about how to come up with a voice for Sid, Leguizamo said it was then he decided to incorporate a lisp.
Alex Casola, a second-year in communication, was quick to recognize Sid as her favorite character from the “Ice Age” movies. “He was goofy. When there was tension in the movie, he would always just come in and do something stupid that was really funny and made it fun,” she said.
Casola said she won’t be seeing “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” though, for the reason that Nicki Minaj and Drake offered their voices to the film. “I think it’s steering away from the normal ‘Ice Age’ movies and it’s becoming part of publicity and promoting themselves,” she said.
Sally Patton, a fourth-year in history and public affairs, said the first “Ice Age” was one of her favorite movies when she was younger. “It was super cute,” she said.
Assuring she’ll “absolutely” so see “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” Patton also said she hopes to see Leguizamo perform one of his one-man-shows live.
Leguizamo hesitated to say whether audiences could expect another “Ice Age” after “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Laughing, he said, “I don’t know, that’s all very top secret.”
To listen to The Lantern’s full interview with Leguizamo, tune into “Writers Talk’ at 7 p.m. Monday on WCRS 98.3 or 102.1 FM or 8 p.m. Wednesday on WCBE 90.5 FM.