Neil deGrasse Tyson is undoubtedly this generation's most popular astrophysicist. He's got the spunk and the charm, as well as the smarts, of course, so if there's anyone who's fit to play an astronomy expert, Tyson is your man.
That's what the makers of Ice Age: Collision Course had in mind when they approached the astrophysicist. The idea actually started out as a joke while the production team was in a story meeting, but then they also started thinking, "Why not?" and decided to schedule a meeting with Tyson.
"We were super intimidated pitching to him," said Michael Thurmeier, the movie's director.
Good thing the astrophysicist agreed!
Tyson will be playing Neil deBuck Weasel, an astronomy expert (who is also a weasel) who exists as a figment of imagination inside Buck's head. But imaginary he might be, Weasel is able to pitch in and help the herd try and stop an asteroid from obliterating the planet.
Aside from sharing the astrophysicist's intelligence, Weasel also resembles Tyson. Entertainment Weekly shared an exclusive first look of the Collision Course character.
Tyson has shown he has quick wit and humor on social media, especially when he's carrying out his crusade against bad science by calling out instances whenever possible, like that time he destroyed Gravity for the movie's scientific inaccuracies. The Martian actually got away relatively unscathed science-wise but still had to deal with a few comments from him about some of the movie's smaller details, such as the United States and China working together peacefully in space and NASA centers collaborating. Even Christmas was not safe from Tyson!
When it's his turn to be corrected, however, the astrophysicist does know when to concede in the face of facts.
More than simply being the defender of proper science,Tyson, it turns out, also has a knack for recording. This makes him a joy to work with for the production team, but he was also there to help ensure that the movie is accurately grounded on scientific facts as much as possible.
"We were mining him for information for whatever scientific plausibility we could put into the story of mammoths stopping an asteroid," said Thurmeier.
Set to come out on July 22, Ice Age: Collision Course stars Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Adam DeVine, Keke Palmer, Jessie J and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.