03/12/2002 AT 11:00 AM EST
The manic man-of-a-thousand-characters scoffed when he was offered the role of Sid the Sloth in the computer-animated film "Ice Age." John Leguizamo, 41, said that four years ago, when he signed on to do a voice for the movie, which is opening this week, he was disappointed that his character was nothing like him, reports PEOPLE. "Because I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty fast-talking," he told reporters on Friday. "And I wanted to play one of the he-man-like, fast-talking kind of guys." Once he accepted the role, he was faced with the challenge of figuring out how a sloth, an extremely slow-moving tree-dwelling mammal of Central America, would sound. After 30 attempts at voices, the actor finally found inspiration while watching hours of boring sloth video on the Discovery Channel. "So I'm watching this tape and they make no noise, they don't move. I mean this is them mating." (Leguizamo sits completely still.) "Then the narrator says, 'They store food in their cheek pockets.' And I said, 'How would that be?' All of a sudden I started coming up with this voice," said Leguizamo, demonstrating how he spoke with his cheeks full of imaginary food. "Ice Age," a family comedy about animal migration during, what else, the Ice Age, also features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and Cedric the Entertainer.
Want more on the stars of Ice Age? Check out our interview with Ray Romano.