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Katonah's Chris Wedge reflects on 'Ice Age,' hails Beyonce
A decade after directing the first “Ice Age” movie, Katonah resident Chris Wedge is pensive about today’s release of “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
“I’m starting to feel a little old, I guess,” the Academy Award-winning director told me this afternoon. “But I suppose that’s better than the alternative. It’s fun to see audiences respond to the characters. ... We never started the first ‘Ice Age’ movie with the thought that there would be a sequel. It was always just a movie, to us. We always just tried to make the best movie we could. And it turns out there are plenty more stories you can tell in that environment, and I guess we haven’t run out of them yet.”
Although he hasn’t directed an “Ice Age” film since the original animated feature in 2002, Wedge has continued to provide the squeaks, yelps and grunts for its clumsy saber-tooth squirrel, Scrat.
Other people’s voices are on his radar these days. He’s in the middle of directing his next animated movie, “Epic,” which features the voice-overs of two other celebrities with Hudson Valley connections: Beyoncé, who owns a house in Scarsdale, and Steven Tyler, who grew up in Yonkers.
“They’ve both been wonderful,” Wedge said. “Steven is a grown-up little boy, who seems to be genuinely fascinated in every moment of his life. And Beyoncé — I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as professional and as understanding of the creative process in my life.”
Earning a Purchase College degree in 1981 helped him get to this point, but he said his experience there, while “formative,” didn’t exactly provide the most lively social scene.
“It was a great place to be, if all you wanted to do was work,” he recalled with a laugh.
“There really wasn’t much else to do, back in those days. But the facilities were fantastic. It was a great, supportive, insulated environment, where you really could just dive in and do a lot of deep thinking. I spent a lot of time working on animated projects there and getting a lot of great input from my fellow students and faculty there.”
More socially satisfying is his home life in Katonah, where he’s lived for about 25 years. “All our neighbors are our friends,” he said. “It feels like a big family there.”
Wedge’s community ties extend to Pleasantville, where he serves on the Industry Advisory Committee of Jacob Burns Film Center, which he hails for its education and community outreach programs.
“The Jacob Burns center is a fantastic and vital part of the community here in Westchester,” he said of the Pleasantville facility. “There are very few places like it anywhere on earth, and certainly near us, there’s nothing better.”