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As Manny deals with his parenting challenges, his best pals Diego and Sid are experiencing their own challenges. At first glance, Diego seems to be at the top of his game. He remains a confirmed bachelor and, having battled dinosaurs in the previous “Ice Age” adventure, has reaffirmed his place as the herd’s tough guy. Diego scoffs at the notion that hanging out with Manny’s family has softened him. “I happen to be a relentless assassin!” he roars.
But it wouldn’t be an “Ice Age” film if big changes weren’t in store for our three heroes, including Diego, who meets his match – and maybe more – in a female sabre named Shira, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, one of today’s biggest cross-over stars. Given this important new figure in Diego’s life, it’s not surprising that when asked about the story for ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift,’ Denis Leary, who returns as Diego, jokes: “The story? Diego gets a love interest, played by J-Lo. I think there’s a more intricate plot, but basically that’s the most important thing.”
Leary insists it’s about time Diego found someone to share his life with. “It took only four ‘Ice Age’ movies for me to get a love interest. Believe me, when making the first ‘Ice Age,’ I didn’t look down the road and think, you know, Diego’s going to get a girlfriend and it’s going to be J-Lo. I would have put that in my contract back then if I thought I could have gotten away with it!”
Love is never simple, especially for sabre-toothed tigers. Shira is a member of a pirate crew that has taken Diego, Manny and Sid hostage, so Shira and Diego’s initial encounters are as foes who go toe-to-toe – and sabre-to-sabre – against one another. They are equally matched. “Diego has never encountered anyone like her before,” says Michael Berg. Adds Steve Martino: “Shira is a femme fatale; she’s sharp, fast and intelligent. But they’re more alike one another than either tiger would admit, and from their hostility and attempts at one-upmanship comes a shared point of view and ultimately a relationship.”
According to Jennifer Lopez, who joins the “Ice Age” family as Shira, Diego and Shira are destined to join forces. “The two characters have a similar backstory,” she explains. “Diego left his pack of sabre-toothed tigers in the first film, and Shira had left hers because she didn’t like the pack mentality. Shira felt like she didn’t belong anywhere until she joined the pirates. Eventually she realizes the pirates are out for themselves, and she must make a choice between staying with them or starting a new life with Diego.” And as we all know, Diego can be very convincing.
Lopez was excited about joining the “Ice Age” team, especially as an empowered figure. “’Ice Age: Continental Drift’ is a poignant, fun, exciting and sweet story, and I love playing strong female characters like Shira,” she explains.
The filmmakers were thrilled to get the multi-talented actress-singer-“American Idol” judge onboard. “Playing a character in an animated film is about more than just the actor’s voice,” says producer Lori Forte. “It’s about the attitude, and Jennifer really brings it.”
The film also makes use of Lopez’s singing talents, as she joins her fellow pirates (including Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost, Aziz Ansari, and Alain Chabat) in a sea shanty, “Master of the Seas,” written by Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne); and accompanies Nicki Minaj, Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Queen Latifah) in the closing song, “We Are (Theme from ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’),” written by Ester Dean.
Image Courtesy of Ice Age Movie