By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 04, 2002 11:00 AM

Ray Romano’s big screen debut may only be as a voice in the new computer-animated feature “Ice Age,” which opens March 15, but his appearance as a prehistoric critter battling extinction has already made him a hero to his children, reports PEOPLE. “The kids were a big factor in doing this,” admits the star of TV’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” (now in its sixth season), adding that “they are obsessed” with the movie “like you can’t believe. It’s almost scary, like, ‘What have I created?'” He adds with a laugh, “I came home with the press folder and the Burger King toys, and I wanna speak to a shrink about it and make sure we’re doing the right thing.” Ray and his wife, Anna, have four children: Alexandra, twins Matthew and Gregory and Joseph, born in 1990, 1993 and 1998, respectively. Their dad believes that one of the contributing factors to his being asked to do the voice of the woolly mammoth, Manny, in the movie is because Manny is somewhat similar to his TV persona, Ray Barone. “But he isn’t passive, and he’s probably more cynical and has a bigger chip on his shoulder. But he’s also, all in all, a good guy too. The guy on TV wants to be left alone — he’s kind of anti-social and would rather sit at home and scratch himself. It’s easy to imagine (Manny) if you look at someone like Lou Grant, who plays this rough curmudgeon who is really a nice guy. It’s a little like my father, too — I just observed him for a while and smelled him for a week, and I had a mammoth,” he jokes. The star, 44, looks forward to next week’s Radio City Music Hall premiere of “Ice Age,” to which he is taking his whole family. “I’m from New York,” he says, “so I have 150 people coming. It’s like a wedding.”

Read more about Ray Romano in’s Q&A with the star.