After nearly two decades at Fox, the ice-age franchise is now under the Disney banner. The first new entry in the series since 2016, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild shifts the attention away from the original central characters to highlight Simon Pegg’s adventurous Buck Wild instead.
During a press conference attended by CBR, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild executive producer Lori Forte and director John C. Donkin spoke about the decision to return to the lost world for the new entry, the joy of shifting Buck into the spotlight and how the film — which premieres on Disney+ on Jan. 28 — embraces the inherent theme of the franchise as a whole.
The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild isn’t Forte’s first experience with the franchise. In fact, she’s been a producer with the series ever since the first film, which debuted over two decades ago. “I’ve been living with all these saber tooth tigers and mammoths and possums and weasels for so long,” Forte explained. “It’s such a great franchise to open it up and to spend time with certain characters that we can’t get to see all the time. I think with this project… We came up with Buck for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurswhich was the third ice-age film. Buck is obviously such a lovable and eccentric and wacky and joyful and adventurous character and [Simon Pegg] brought all of that to life for us. I mean, I is all those things I just mentioned, eccentric and joyful and wacky and lovable and wonderful.”
In fact, the character’s previous return came out of a deep-seated love for the character — a sentiment Forte shares with Pegg himself. “We brought him back in Ice Age: Collision Course Because Simon kept saying, ‘When are you going to bring me back?’ We came up with a story in Collision Course to bring him back. Now it just was suited when we’re looking to come back and tell a story, another new story in the ice-age world, it felt so natural to go back to the lost world and it’s so natural to come back to Buck because it’s a character that everybody loves.”
For Donkin, some of the fun came from getting the chance to really explore Buck as a character — and how that affects the entire orbit around him. “I think that this movie allows us to start to peel back the layers of all that is Buck,” Donkin explained, “and actually, the introduction of the Zee character gives us a glimpse into some backstory in Buck. There’s some history between the two of them and we start to reveal that through the course of the movie. It expands the universe in that way, in the sense that we get to dig a little deeper into these characters. They’re not just wacky because they’re wacky. They have some history and it brings them to who they are today. I think Zee was a great addition to Buck in that way.”
Reflecting on Buck’s introduction in 2009’s Ice Age: Dawn of the DinosaursForte recalled how well-received the Lost World of dinosaurs was and how that period of the series actually has its roots in the earliest days of the concept, saying, “Everybody responded so amazingly to the Lost World and it was something we came up with a long time ago when we were researching the first film. We had someone from the Museum of Natural History come and talk to us and they said, ‘Whatever you do, when you’re making this film, make sure you don’t put dinosaurs in with mammoths because they never lived it in the same . They were millions of years apart.’”
“We actually, did a wink and nod to that, we did a sequence in the first movie called the Ice Museum where they’re walking through this frozen museum, we see a T-Rex in ice and we figured, ‘Well, that’s a great way of putting the dinosaurs and the mammoths together,’” she recalled. “So we did that and then we came up with a mythology that created a whole world underneath our feet, where dinosaurs, maybe they didn’t all go extinct during the asteroid hit… when we came up with that, we knew that that was a world that people were going to want to see. And obviously, with Buck living there far too long, he’d see he has no real relationships. His relationships with him are with animate objects — because he’s so close to nature, like rocks and tree stumps and a pumpkin as a daughter. So I think there was just so much there to be able to explore.”
All of this plays into one of the big appeals to the character for Forte, as she and the other creatives on the films”always knew he wanted to do something more. And so we did, we found something another way of bringing him back in Ice Age: Collision Course. But it just felt like [Buck] deserves his own movie. He deserves his own spinoff because the character himself, he’s just so iconic. He’s clever, he’s an adventurer, he’s a swashbuckler, he’s a protector and guardian of the Lost World. He it’s such a great character to have. We love to go on adventures with him because he’s just not afraid of anything”
“But at the same time, he’s a loner,” she continued. “He’s lonely. He doesn’t have people around him. And so it felt like the perfect time to show Buck in his world from him, protecting it, guarding it, but bringing new characters in with him that sort of shakes up his solitariness from her a little bit. It just felt like the right thing to do. We’re so happy we did, because we love working with Simon. We loved working with the possums and Justina [Machado], and it just felt like it came together so beautifully. It’s pretty much what we all hoped it would be.”
Expanding on those character beats for Buck were especially appealing to Donkin, who stepped into the director’s chair for the first time with The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild and found a genuinely hopeful throughline to the entire film. “One of the great themes is the family angle,” Donkin explained. “We loved the idea that, once you’re in a herd, which is our family, it’s a herd. They’re equivalent. Once you’re in a herd and you have that connection, it’s okay if there’s some physical separation between you, because there’s always going to be shared love and support. That is resonant, I think right now, because so many of us are separated and isolated from family members and can’t just go and see them whenever we want, due to the global situation.
“So I think that will be a reminder to everybody that you have this connection with family, and it’s important,” he shared. “And they may be in different ways than you might think. They might not always be related to blood. There’s an extended family that’s through friendship, and through common shared experiences… I don’t mean to sound preachy or anything, but literally every human on the planet is going through this together. And if we could remember that, and use that as a bonding experience instead of a divisive thing, I think that would be great. So there are some elements like that in the movie as well.”
The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, starring Simon Pegg, Vincent Tong, Aaron Harris, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Justina Machado, premieres on Disney+ on Jan. 28.
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