In the new animated family movie “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D,” actor John Leguizamo (“Nothing Like the Holidays”) gives voice to the character Alex, a feisty prehistoric bird and the film’s narrator who tells the story of Patchi, a dinosaur known as the Pachyrhinosaurus, who helps his herd migrate their way through a terrain filled with dangerous predators.
Alex is a pretty outspoken bird. What did you want to bring to this role through your voice work?
I like my voice to really disappear into the character. I don’t want people to think about John. I want them to think about the character. These are newly discovered dinosaurs. This Alexornis bird (Alex) was just found in Mexico, so we gave it this Spanish flavor.
I’m actually going to see the film tomorrow with a paleontologist. What do you think will impress him the most about the science behind the film?
You know, the BBC, who is producing this, quadruple fact checked everything. All the facts are up to date. The technology is also cutting edge. It is really photorealistic. I think he’s going to be really impressed by it. The studio designed the movie’s characters based on real information and real behaviors. I’m interested to see if he thinks we accomplished that.
Would you go to a zoo that featured dinosaurs if scientists figured out how to bring them back one day?
Who wouldn’t?! I mean, I’d go with some serious Taser guns, but I’d like to go.
I heard a story on NPR the other day that said bringing dinosaurs back probably couldn’t happen in real life, but science is close to bringing back other extinct animals like the dodo bird.
Yeah, I read that article. I thought they just couldn’t find any viable dinosaur DNA. I think that’s the problem. They just can’t find it. They’d be able to do it if they could find it.
I think I’d like to see the dodo. What about you?
Yeah, the dodo and the Tasmanian tiger. There are a lot of creatures I’d want to see.
The Sabre-tooth tiger?
That might be too old. I don’t think they can bring that one back.
Something I found interesting about the film is that all these computer generated characters are set on the backdrops of real environments. What do you think that does for the film?
You’re going to hear a lot of oohs and aahs. That’s what it does. It ups the whole “wow” factor. You’re watching it thinking, “This is real! This isn’t made up!” It’s crazy how it messes with your mind.
You’ve done voice work in animated films before. How was this one different for you compared to something like “Ice Age?”
In this one, they animated it first because they wanted it to be true to the dinosaurs’ behaviors. Then we did the voices. In “Ice Age,” they animated to our voices. In “Walking with Dinosaurs,” they animated it first and then we had to study the footage a lot and then put our voices to it.
What did you think when you first saw what Alex was going to look like? He has some pretty crazy feathers.
Yeah, he’s like the first parrot. It’s pretty cool. There were a lot of feathered dinosaurs back in the day.
How much of this prehistoric era do you actually have to learn about before going into a project like this?
The producers were meticulous about all the details, so I didn’t have to do that much research – just about my character. I just had to bring humor and personality to Alex.