Good thing for Ray Romano that everybody doesn't love James Earl Jones. The master orator was initially considered to supply the voice of Ice Age's wooly mammoth Manny, but ultimately, director Chris Wedge just couldn't warm up to the idea. "We needed more comedy," he tells TV Guide Online.

That paved the way for the Everybody Loves Raymond star's eventual casting as the film's snow-bound hero. "It took a while to get to it, but it was really perfect once we thought of it," explains Wedge. "Ray's voice is kind of deep and his delivery is kind of slow, but he's also got a sarcastic wit behind it."

How does Romano feel about trumping the erstwhile Darth Vader for the plum part? "Me and James Earl Jones are constantly up for the same things," he cracks. "I always have to beat him and Jack Nicholson out.

"I don't know how they stumbled on me," he modestly adds, "but I'm glad they did."

Still, Romano begrudgingly concedes that he's hardly the star of Ice Age — despite his top billing. That distinction belongs to the film's hapless squirrel-rat hybrid, Scrat, whose antics have left preview audiences in hysterics. "He wasn't in the script," the comic laments, tongue in cheek. "Those damn animators."