The astrophysicist lends his voice to the fifth film in the 'Ice Age' franchise.
Credit: Blue Sky Studios; Robin Marchant/Getty Images

If you’re going to make a film about an asteroid’s collision course with Earth, you might as well enlist pop culture’s reigning expert to tell you about it — and even lend his voice to get in on the action.

The filmmakers of Ice Age: Collision Course — the forthcoming fifth installment in the wildly successful film franchise about a gang of prehistoric misfits surviving the world’s early natural calamities — decided to take such a course of action in pursuing Neil deGrasse Tyson, who voices a role in the upcoming movie as himself. Well, sort of.

Astrophysicist Tyson will play Neil deBuck Weasel, an astronomy expert who exists as a figment of Buck’s (Simon Pegg) imagination and helps the herd as they attempt to stop an asteroid from destroying the planet. EW has an exclusive first look at Tyson’s character, who definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to the star.

Credit: Blue Sky Studios

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“We were super intimidated pitching to him,” admits director Michael Thurmeier. “It came up in a story meeting: Wouldn’t it be funny if we have Neil deGrasse Tyson come out? And we all laughed, because he’s the most famous astrophysicist on the planet right now…and then we thought, ‘Well, why not?’”

Fast forward, and Tyson was a natural in the recording booth. Even better, he became a great help to the filmmakers in giving the movie’s story some actual, if infrequent, scientific grounding whenever possible. “We were asking him questions all the time. We’re in the booth, we get to a scene and say, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking,’ and he’s like, ‘Okay, that could work because, you know, this is actually the mineral make-up of asteroids in space,’” says Thurmeier with a laugh. “We were mining him for information for whatever scientific plausibility we could put into the story of mammoths stopping an asteroid.”

Credit: Blue Sky Studios

Ice Age: Collision Course stars Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, and Adam Devine, as well as new cast additions like Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jessie J.

The Blue Sky Studios-20th Century Fox film rockets into theaters on July 22.

Ice Age: Collision Course
  • Movie
  • 94 minutes