You probably know Justina Machado from her amazing and vulnerable work One Day at a Time. But did you know she also voice acts? Having previously voiced characters in Elena of Avalor, Harley Quinn, and Dragons: The Nine Realms, Machado is the newest addition to the Ice Age franchise. In The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, Machado plays Zee, a strong-willed and confident zorilla with a long history connected to Buck. While Buck, Crash and Eddie may be the focus of this film, Machado steals the show. We got the chance to talk with Machado about her role, its importance, and even the difference between voice acting and live-action as a whole.
BUT WHY THO: What attracted you the role of Zee?
JUSTINA MACHADO: I loved her fierceness. I loved her courage. I loved her leadership. I loved her back and forth with Buck, you know this beautiful antagonist relationship they had together. I thought it was very human. But more than anything I loved that she was a character that was so strong and something that little girls and little boys could look up to.
BUT WHY THO: Did you put some of yourself into her? I know she isn’t human but I was drawn to her because she reminded me of all the fierce Latinas I know who lead, especially on sports teams. Did you put any of your characteristics into her?
JUSTINA MACHADO: Absolutely! And you know, one of the things that Lori and the director had said, once we start working together they also try to tailor the character around you. Once they get to know you, they’ll do that. So I think that’s what they wanted. They wanted a strong character. They wanted a strong Latina. I love that you say that she reminds you of Latinas because that’s all I am, that’s all I’ll ever be and I’m proud to be. So I love that that comes through too because another theme of these movies is the diversity —of species, of accents, of all of this, so it’s just a pleasure to be a part of something like this.
BUT WHY THO: What are some of the differences between live-action and voice work? I love your work because you’re extremely animated in live-action. We know what you’re feeling and you see it directly. Is it hard to bring all of that across in voice work too?
JUSTINA MACHADO: No! Once you let yourself go and you don’t care what you look like —because I look like a fool in that booth— I look crazy. There is something that’s just very freeing about being in a booth, and just voicing a character. You have the freedom to play around as soon as you realize that and bring that into the booth…then you’re fine.
BUT WHY THO: Did you have any scenes that were your favorite to voice for?
JUSTINA MACHADO: Yes! I loved voiceing the scene where Buck and Zee are going at it with each other…Because we tried it so many different ways…I said to them, “I can talk really fast” [Machado speeds up talking speed] “I can do it like this and I can do it like that” [Machado returns to her speaking voice] And they were like, “yeah let’s try that.” But then they were like, “no let’s not do that.” So that was fun, trying many different ways.
BUT WHY THO: What’s one of the things that you want kids to take away from watching Zee on screen?
JUSTINA MACHADO: I want them to take away that —I mean Zee is a zorilla, she’s tiny. She’s a little thing that people are probably afraid of because they know that she can spray and stink up the whole place. So I just want [kids] to know that no matter how small you feel, no matter how different you feel, you’re special and you’re unique, and you’re worthy. I want them to know that you’ll find your herd, your community…Every little thing that you do is put great stuff into the world. You don’t have to be this big person to make things happen.
BUT WHY THO: Do you enjoy making characters for children to watch and enjoy?
JUSTINA MACHADO: I like characters who are interesting, no matter who enjoys them. The one thing about children is that when they’re your fans, they’re your fans. They will watch stuff over and over again, you’ve won the jackpot there. But I definitely enjoy making content for all ages, for all people. For me, it’s always about the character and about the project.
In Ice Age the Adventures of Buck Wild, Machado brings a strong and fierce character that is bound to become a fan favorite among Ice Age fans. If you’re not up to date on the newest film here’s the quick synopsis: In The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, the franchise continues the hilarious escapades of the beloved heroes as they create more prehistoric pandemonium. The thrill-seeking possum brothers Crash and Eddie have grown restless in Snow Valley. They need plenty of wide-open space to practice their extreme stunts and are eager for a bit of independence. Their older sister, the woolly mammoth Ellie, is over-protective and worries too much. Still, Eddie and Crash are like sons to Ellie and Manny, whom they met following a devastating flood, and they have bonded to become a make-shift family.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.