I was very impressed with DC/Warner Bros’ latest animated film, based on the classic Tower of Babel story from the comics, in which Batman inadvertently betrays his fellow Leaguers.
Check out my review here.
I was very impressed with DC/Warner Bros’ latest animated film, based on the classic Tower of Babel story from the comics, in which Batman inadvertently betrays his fellow Leaguers.
Check out my review here.
On Feb 16 the West Coast Premiere at the Paley Centre takes place, but on Feb 28, Justice League: Doom, the latest animated DC Comics film, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Below is an interview conducted by Warner Bros. with regular Superman voice actor Tim Daly.
The quintessential voice of the Man of Steel – primetime television star Tim Daly – once again returns to his original animated role of Superman in JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies.
Daly set the standard as the voice behind the world’s ultimate super hero for Superman: The Animated Series as well as in several animated movies and video games. While fanboys hail his vocal performance as their point of recognition, the Emmy nominated actor is known well throughout the world for his primetime television series roles, including eight seasons on Wings, an intense recurring role on The Sopranos, a memorable turn on HBO’s landmark mini-series From The Earth To The Moon, and his current ABC hit series, Private Practice.
TIM DALY: Well, as usual, it’s all about saving the planet. But first, the Justice League has to save the Justice League. Batman disappoints his colleagues in the Justice League by having a plan to stop any rogue Justice League member, and by allowing those plans to be stolen. Superman understands Batman, though – he really has created these contingency plans for a pretty noble reason. He’s trying to protect the world by inserting some checks and balances into this system, realizing that the Justice League has an incredible amount of power, and he wants to make sure that they always use that power in a way that’s not destructive.
QUESTION: Are you able to turn on and off the Superman voice without hesitation, or is there some sort of warm-up involved – mentally or vocally?
TIM DALY: There’s just a lot of technical things to keep in mind. You get warmed up like you do with anything and, after a little rehearsing, it’s all second nature. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to go back and do a few lines over again – you want these things to be just right. But you don’t necessarily jump straight back in. I mean, it’s not like I walk around being Superman in real life. But when you read the script and put yourself in the position that Superman is in – I mean, he’s always saving the planet, for God’s sake. When you realize that, it’s not difficult to take the gravitas of the situation and make your voice do what it needs to do.
QUESTION: As well as you know this character after all of these years, are you ever shy to offer suggestions about how certain dialogue might be presented or altered?
TIM DALY: Usually the writing is pretty great, but then again, I can’t keep my mouth shut. If I think something can be better, I’ll speak up and say so. But I will explain why I’m making the suggestion. I actually find that writers respond very well to being asked questions. “Why would Superman say that?” “Would it be better if I said it this way?” You don’t just want to be critical – that doesn’t benefit anyone. The best creative work usually comes from a collaboration.
QUESTION: Have you ever found yourself using the Superman attitude or voice in real life?
TIM DALY: I did a little bit when my kids were young. And I found that it worked much better on my daughter than my son. I would say to her, (beefs up his voice), “Stop that right now.” And she would be suitably taken aback. But my son, he didn’t really care.
QUESTION: Has providing the voice of Superman helped you learn anything about yourself or changed you in any way?
TIM DALY: Maybe a little bit. Maybe some of what gets you through your walks in the world is attitude. Certainly Superman has a lot of power and he doesn’t have to be showy, rather he carries that confidence quietly. He knows what he can do. I certainly am not capable of pulling that off in my own life. But knowing that, I can fake that attitude to help me out now and then.
QUESTION: What Superman memorabilia have you collected over the years?
TIM DALY: I have a beautiful wooden Superman statue with a removable cape – I really love that piece. I have a cel from the original Superman series cartoons. And I have a gold Superman “S” pin. And then there’s my tights, uh, but don’t tell anymore.
QUESTION: TV and film is usually a one-way experience for you. You don’t really get to see the final product with an audience very often. But you’re coming back to the Paley Center in Los Angeles for the premiere of JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM – and this will be your second time seeing one of the DC Universe animated movies alongside the fans. What was your experience like watching Superman/Batman: Apocalypse last time?
TIM DALY: It was really great because the fans were so into it. Fan reaction is really wonderful to experience in person, especially fans of this genre. They’re so passionate. And it was also fun because it was just my voice and Superman’s image. Usually when I see myself in a film or on television, there’s about a six-month period where I can’t look at it because all I’ll see are the mistakes. I’m just appalled by the person that I see. The camera sees me from angles that I’ve never seen myself, so I never think it’s me. I look at that and I think, “My God, that’s me.” But with these films, I can look up and it is Superman on the screen. So I don’t have to go through all that. He has no flaws.
QUESTION: What’s the magic of working with dialogue director Andrea Romano?
TIM DALY: The great thing about working with Andrea is that she loves it so much, and she’s so positive about it. You can’t fake that. Even after all this time, doing 41 shows at a time, all the series and films, she’s right there with the same enthusiasm and love for the material. I don’t know how she keeps it all straight. Plus, she really loves actors – you always feel like she’s rooting for you. And that makes it very easy.
On February 28 the next animated film to be released is Justice League: Doom, and here’s a new clip from it showing Batman and his buddies fighting the Royal Flush Gang.
Inspired by Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s excellent Tower of Babel storyline from the Justice League comics in the ’90s that had Batman unwittingly defeating his teammates, is this next animated film From DC Comics and Warner Bros. The only new info we have is the release date of February 28, and the box art below. Judging by the previously released trailer, it does seem a loose adaptation though, with Cyborg now in the team, and the immortal Vandal Savage as the main villain. It is the last screenplay written by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie though, so it should be entertaining.
The film features the voices of primetime stars Nathan Fillion (Castle), Tim Daly (Private Practice) and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) in addition to a cavalcade of voiceover alums from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated television series.
40 mins. Mladen and I occupy the same space once more as we talk about 2 new Image comics debuts we liked plus Ninja Turtles, April Fool’s Day office pranks, iPad 2 queues, and animated Plastic Man.
Writer Jonathan Hickman’s new creator owned series
Justice League film set for 2013
Amy Adams has been cast as Lois Lane in the Superman reboot
Wonder Woman’s TV costume changes. Now with less shininess!
6:40 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING
Kris - IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters
FF #1, the new Fantastic Four relaunch. Spider-Man joins the team and it’s black and white costumes all round!
Mladen – Sequelcast film podcast
20:14 FEATURE REVIEWS
Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman by Richard Starkings and Axel Medellin. We find it to be a good intro for new readers, love the art and its effective colour palette and just the general noir vibe of the whole tale.
Nonplayer #1 by Nate Simpson. A very entertaining genre mash-up of a sci-fi world and a fantasy virtual world, with art that you’ll fall in love with. See a preview here and an interview with Simpson here.
Our rambling and amusing conclusion.
Superheroes can be interpreted any number of striking ways, especially superhero teams. For example, the Justice League by Dan Hipp, and his version of Batman’s rogues gallery,
the Guardians of the Galaxy and New Warriors from Patricio Oliver,
and finally Franco Spagnolo’s Justice League.
All these great artists’ blogs are worth checking out for more impressive pics of pop culture interpretations.
I have to admit, I’m getting more excited about DC’s new animated series and films than I am about most of their comics these days. Just screened at Comic Con was this little gem; a behind the scenes look at the new Young Justice series, with producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti. With the new Aqualad, plus less familiar characters to outsiders, such as Artemis, Miss Martian and Speedy/Red Arrow, this looks set to be a ‘toon for older viewers than Batman: The Brave and the Bold. What’s interesting about this series is a 16 strong Justice League, a new DC Universe (Superman has only been around for a decade) and a teen cast, some of whom will die. Plus the sleek designs look similar to those in the recent Crisis on Two Earths film.
Below is the first sneak peek at next month’s animated JLA film. Oh yeah! There’s alternate evil versions of Elongated Man, Vixen and Black Lightning so far by the looks of it.
To save our world and all those like it, Superman, Batman and their caped colleagues must go toe-to-toe with their evil mirror images in JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie coming February 23, 2010 from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def , as well as single disc DVD, On Demand and Download.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League) rooted in DC Comics’ popular canon of “Crisis” stories depicting parallel worlds with uniquely similar super heroes and villains. Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday, Green Lantern) is executive producer. Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors.
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.
The movie features an all-star voice cast led by Mark Harmon (NCIS) as Superman, James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi) as Owlman, Chris Noth (Sex and the City, Law & Order) as Lex Luthor, William Baldwin (Dirty Sexy Money) as Batman, Gina Torres (Serenity, Firefly) as Super Woman and Bruce Davison (X-Men) as the President.
Thanks to Warner Bros. for their interview with actor Bruce Davison, who plays President Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke in Feb 23′s animated film, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Having one of the meanest hombres in the DC Universe as President in an alternate earth is an awesome move.
VETERAN ACTOR BRUCE DAVISON MAKES ANIMATION VOICEOVER DEBUT IN JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
Bruce Davison is no stranger to political office – at least in a fictional situation. He’s played an ambassador, senator, congressman and judge, but Davison steps up in class – in his first voiceover for animation – as President Wilson in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie coming February 23, 2010 from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and puts the balance of all existence in peril. Davison’s President Wilson is caught in the middle of the battle, attempting to find a balance between leading the human citizens of the parallel Earth and not being crushed by the powerful Crime Syndicate.
Davison’s credits stretch through film and television to the tune of 160 different movies and series roles, catching the world’s attention in 1971 as the title character in the benchmark rat-attack thriller Willard. He has since been a regular on primetime series, covering the gamut from The Waltons, Murder She Wrote and thirtysomething to Seinfeld, Lost, Close to Home and Knight Rider. Davison’s film career has featured memorable and critically acclaimed roles in X-Men and X2, Six Degrees of Separation, Short Cuts, Grace of My Heart and Longtime Companion, the latter performance garnering an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Award, an Independent Spirit Award, and top honors from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. Though he has recorded numerous books-on-tape, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths represents Davison’s first foray into the animated world.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer, and Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.
During his recording session, Davison had a few minutes to discuss his inaugural animated role, his personal history with super heroes, an early adoration for EC Comics, and his ascent up the fictional political ladder. We’ll let his words take it from here …
QUESTION: What’s it like being one of two characters without super powers in an all-super hero movie?
BRUCE DAVISON: Well, it’s par for the course. In X-Men, I played Senator Kelly and, as my son likes to say, I didn’t really have any powers – I just melted. It’s tough when your action figure can’t stand up. I had to stick it in a glass of water because it didn’t have any feet, just this sort of drippy stuff off the bottom (he laughs). So I’m used to not having any real strength powers. But President Wilson is a pretty macho guy, which is great.
QUESTION: And you’ve got a nice progression here. Marvel makes you a senator, DC makes you President …
BRUCE DAVISON: Yes, I AM the President (he laughs). And I actually have feet in this one, plus an eye-patch. So I’m definitely moving up in the super hero world.
QUESTION: How did you enjoy your maiden voyage into animation voiceovers?
BRUCE DAVISON: I’ve done books-on-tape, including a Stephen King book and a few other things. But it’s really interesting to be a character that will then be created as opposed to trying to fit in. I’ve spent a lifetime voicing over (looping) myself in films over the years. But it’s a lot easier to just create something and then let the animators put it together. Oh, and it’s just a blast doing the recording – it’s like being six years old again.
QUESTION: Were you picturing the character in your head while recording, or just focusing on conveying certain emotions?
BRUCE DAVISON: Well, I always try to look at my characters as being better than I am. That’s one of the reasons I guess I became an actor – because you get to create a persona that’s bigger or better or more interesting than your own. I sort of found President Wilson to be like Dale Dye, the guy that does all the military shows on History Channel. The guy who gets in the trenches. He’s been there, done that. So, I’d better shape up.
QUESTION: Did super heroes play a role in your youth?
BRUCE DAVISON: I hate to date myself, but my earliest memories are Flash Gordon. I would love playing Flash Gordon in the neighborhood. We lived outside of Philadelphia in Drexel Hill, and I would be Flash Gordon and my friend was Dr. Zarkov – and we’d get beat up by the Catholic kids, who were the clay people, on the way home from school. And then we’d have auditions for Dale Arden. So that was sort of my childhood fantasy.
QUESTION: Do you remember any first experiences with Superman or Batman?
BRUCE DAVISON: Oh, yeah – George Reeves working with “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” – you know, in the ’50s when there were just three channels on the TV, and you watched the Indian on the Test Pattern until nine when things started coming on. I did have a cape and I did jump off my stairs – and survived (laugh). I really loved running around the hill, trying to do the whole “Truth, Justice and the American Way” thing (hums the theme song). I’d try to take off just like he did, and end up sliding on my face down the hill. But that was always off camera for me and I figured they didn’t see that part, just the great take off (laughs).
QUESTION: How did comic books influence your upbringing?
BRUCE DAVISON: I was a major EC Comic freak. I just loved them all. “Tales Of The Crypt,” “Weird Science” … all of the older stuff. I just really loved the artwork – Wally Wood and all of those great artists. But they scared the bejesus out of me as a kid. I remember one very vivid comic in which a baseball player would spike people, sliding into everybody, so they cut him all up and played baseball with his head and used his legs as the bats. I think they used his trunk as home plate. That really scared me (he laughs). It was a really interesting time. They used to run articles in the comics about how people in Congress were trying to make it a Commie plot to ban EC. I found that really interesting – that was really the dawning of my first understanding of politics and censorship.
QUESTION: Why are superheroes important for us?
BRUCE DAVISON: I think it gives us a sense of idealism and strength that we don’t have but we wish we did. It’s like, why do we create religion? Because we need super heroes to take care of us, to live up to.
QUESTION: You’ve done so many different things. What do people most often recognize you for?
BRUCE DAVISON: Well, if they’re my age, probably Willard, because that was an impressionable movie when you’re young. The younger people know me from X-Men. And then if you’re 12, it’s Knight Rider. It’s as though every few years something comes along and then I’m sort of remembered for that. But people don’t really know that I can do anything else until the next time.
QUESTION: Did you learn anything from your first animation voiceover experience?
BRUCE DAVISON: I learned it’s a lot of fun. It really is. And you just have to sort of wing it with the other actors. You do have to work within the iambic pentameter of the technical world of the medium. You can’t pop things and you can’t get too close to the microphone and you can’t get too breathy. You really have to sort of create a character vocally within a framework of technology. So you can’t step out of it in order to do something that maybe you would do as an actor on film or on stage. When you’re on stage, even a whisper, you have to reach very far away. In film, you can be much more intimate. But just using your voice, you have to create something that’s somewhere in the middle so that it paints a picture and yet it’s not intimate enough to get lost.
For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at www.JUSTICELEAGUECRISIS.com.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. comes a nice Christmas present; brand new pictures from the latest DC animated film adaptation and the Halo anthology movie.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths features on our must-have list in next month’s debut Arcana magazine and is released on February 23. Halo Legends based on the hugely popular game franchise consists of 7 short films created by different Japanese animation studios, and arrives on February 12.
I can’t really conceal my excitement for this film. It’s a great time to be a DC fan! The latest in DC’s growing line of animated films involves the Justice League and their evil counterparts from an alternate earth. I’ve chosen this film as one of the must haves for the first quarter of 2010 in next month’s Arcana mag.
Thanks to Warner Bros, below is an interview with William Baldwin, the actor portraying Batman in the film,w ho reveals he almost played the character on film before George Clooney beat him to it.
DIRTY SEXY MONEY STAR WILLIAM BALDWIN ASSUMES THE ROLE OF BATMAN FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
Dirty Sexy Money star William Baldwin slides easily into the famed cowl as the voice of Batman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.
A fan of the super hero genre since his youth when the Baldwin brothers would role play in their backyard, William Baldwin has proudly, enthusiastically undertaken the deep, gravelly vocal tones of the Dark Knight. While Baldwin has crafted a fine career in live-action film and television, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths represents only his second foray into voiceover for animation, having recorded a few episodes on the Nickelodeon series Danny Phantom.
Beyond ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money television series, Baldwin has offered memorable turns in the feature films Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Flatliners, Backdraft and The Squid and the Whale, the latter of which earned (ironically) a Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer, and the film is co-directed by Lauren Montgomery (Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies). The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video on February 23, 2010 as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.
Baldwin took time after his recording session to chat about visualization techniques in the sound booth, his children’s influence on his choice of roles, the super hero roughhouse role play by the Baldwin brothers (particularly Alec Baldwin) in their youth, and his very nearly being cast in the live-action role of Batman. Now let the man speak …
WILLIAM BALDWIN: I almost did join that group – I was one of Joel Schumacher’s top choices when Val Kilmer wound up playing Batman. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton had left, so Joel had the luxury of replacing Michael Keaton and he told me that his four choices – which was an eclectic, diverse array – were Daniel Day Lewis, Ralph Feinnes, Val Kilmer and me. I didn’t even know it at the time – he told me when I had a meeting with him later. The next time, when George Clooney did it, (Schumacher) said, “You were on my original short list with those other three actors, but the studio went with Val and this time I’d like to go with you.” And that Friday afternoon, I thought I was playing Batman – and then Monday morning, the headlines in the trades said that George Clooney had gotten the part. So apparently, I did actually come very close.
I was very excited to do this. I wasn’t really thinking about any past Batmans, but more of letting the material sort of dictate the choices that I make as an actor. What’s happening physically, what’s happening emotionally, what’s happening in the writing. That’s what really drives your performance.
QUESTION: How did you choose to interpret the character? And was there anything you wanted to do differently than what had preceded you?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: I was mostly influenced by whom I perceive Batman to be, with the possible exception that I think sometimes I allow a certain sensitivity or an emotional dynamic to give (the character) maybe a likeability or an accessibility. That’s almost an insecurity of mine as an actor – to want to breathe a little bit of those types of emotions into characters. I think I find them more appealing and more likeable and more human. What I didn’t choose to do is to go towards the darkness of the way the original Batman series was intended. Because Batman, in the original comic series, was a lot darker than the character that was brought to life in television.
QUESTION: Are there any personal attachments to Batman that make voicing this role special for you?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: It’s a number of things – certainly the history of the character. The people that have been lucky enough to portray Batman on screen, or provide his voice, is a short list and it’s pretty cool. I’m in good company. I enjoyed it as a child, and the character still resonates for me. And I’m a father of an 8-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a 4-year-old – my boy is sandwiched between his sisters, and he just loves the super heroes. We watch Justice League together. I try not to let him overdo it too much with television, but there’s great, wholesome messages that come out of that series. When I told him that I was playing Batman, his jaw dropped. I almost took him out of school today to have him come down here (for the recording session).
WILLIAM BALDWIN: Probably about a half a dozen, usually just joking with my kids and my wife. I was in the studio about a 9-iron from here, where my wife (Chynna Phillips) was recording, and all the band members were giving me different lines to say as Batman. Or having me improvise some lines. And we were having some wicked, twisted fun with it (he laughs).
QUESTION: It seemed you were quite focused in the booth, conveying all the physical and emotional traits as Batman. How immersed in the role did you feel?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: I take it seriously. And I enjoy it, especially recreating the sound effects of the fight sequences and stuff like that. One thing that was interesting to me was how clean they need the lines and, thus, how specific I had to keep my relationship to the microphone, and making sure there weren’t any other sort of ancillary sounds. When I’m doing looping for a film, I guess it’s sort of a method approach. I’ll put things inside my mouth and try to recreate the circumstances or the emotions that existed while I was performing. There’s nothing better than when you’re grunting from lifting something to try and create that sensation. I do a lot of visualization, too. So when you’re having the confrontation with Lex Luthor or Superwoman, sometimes I’ll look through the mike into the booth to somebody in the room. I’ll look at them and just sort of imagine it in my mind, to just pick somebody and lock into that, giving off this energy to them. It’s very helpful for me to have that specificity to lock into.
QUESTION: Did the Baldwin brothers play super hero games growing up?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: You’ll have to get my brother Alec in here sometime – he’s got the scars to prove it. Back in the early ‘60s, he tied a bathroom towel around his neck as a cape and was doing his Superman (impression), and he went through a plate glass sliding door. He ran right through it. He has these big V-shaped scars under his bicep and his forearm from all the stitches that he took when he was five or six years old.
So yeah, we did play super hero games. And my family was pretty rough. I mean, when we were playing super heroes, if there was a cartoon where somebody got thrown off the roof and they landed on the ground with a thud, then Stephen or I got thrown off the roof – into a pile of leaves, or into somebody’s swimming pool.
QUESTION: You rode along with the Chicago Fire Department to prepare for Backdraft. What kind of research went into this performance?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: First of all, some parts lend them self to that type of research and preparation more than others. Secondly, I had a fairly deep understanding of this character because I’ve been watching the shows and films and the character for 40 years. So if I felt like I didn’t have enough of an understanding, I probably would have postponed (the recording session). But when I was looking at the script on a plane a few days ago, I felt it was kind of a piece of cake based on my understanding of the character, and really fueled my attraction to the character and the piece. There’s a lot of two- and three-line exchanges rather than two- and three-paragraph exchanges. There weren’t a lot of monologues that required a lot of line memorization, or anything incredibly challenging emotionally. I just had to get into the rhythm of how the character speaks.
Batman’s spectrum of emotion is fairly narrow – for a number of reasons. He’s always in command, he’s always in control, he’s always holding it together, and he’s pretty tough relative to the rest of us in this room.
WILLIAM BALDWIN: There’s always been something cool about (Gotham City) being based on New York – it’s where I’m from, where I grew up, and I’ve spent my whole career there. I remember referring to it as Gotham – not Gotham City, either – more often than I called it Manhattan or New York. I’d be on the West Coast finishing a meeting, and somebody would ask, “Where you going?” And I’d always say “Back to Gotham.”
QUESTION: Did having children that enjoy the genre influence your desire to give voice to an animated character at this point in your career?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: That definitely motivates a lot of the choices that I make as an actor now. I’m looking to be involved with projects that are family oriented. Not exclusively, but I’d like to do some things that my children can see. My brother Alec has done a series of films over the last couple years – Madagascar and Thomas (the Train) and things like that – and the kids got really, really excited about that. And we’re good friends with Chazz Palminteri, and Chazz does a lot of animated voiceover work. When they hear his voice, they really get excited.
I was doing a television series for two seasons, so we would watch that together as a family. Sometimes I would let the kids stay up, and they really got a kick out of it. I did a film last year with Henry Winkler called A Plumm Summer that won a couple of family film festival audience awards. So yes, I’m definitely looking for some choices. Because the films in my past, like Flatliners and Internal Affairs, Three Of Hearts and Backdraft and Sliver, Fair Game and The Squid And The Whale and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, these are all films that my kids aren’t quite ready to see.
QUESTION: You’ve tackled this legendary comic character. What other roles would you like to fill?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: I’d like to surprise some people maybe and do the voice of something that’s much more charactery. It could be much more ethnic. Jewish or Irish or a New Yorker. I have a lot of fun with that stuff. I’d even like to sing. I wouldn’t want to sing in the way that you would need Mariah Carey to sing, but just have a character sing and have fun with that, too.
QUESTION: What were your impressions of this animation experience versus some of your previous experiences?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: I’m getting better at it. I’m very tough on myself, so I’m never quick to say that I felt like it was great when it wasn’t. I usually have my own sort of standards that I set for myself. It felt like I was able to achieve my objectives more quickly. I think that comes with maturity as a performer and, uh, it’s nice to know. Because there’s been times where I’ve done voiceover work where they would normally allot two hours for someone who can bang it out, and they would have to allot three or three and a half or four hours. It’s not that I couldn’t do it quickly, it’s just that I’m such a perfectionist. I tend to be saying “Let me try that again. Let’s do one more … one more … one more.” I think I said, “Let me do one more” about 10 times today, which wasn’t a lot. Sometimes I say it 100 times. I think everybody thought that it felt right, it felt good, it sounded great. It’s always fun, but I want to get it right.
QUESTION: Is it difficult acting alone in the booth?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: It forces you to hone in and focus on the performance aspects and the emotional aspects of what you’re trying, and visual them in your head. Acting is not acting, it’s reacting. You’re reacting to what somebody’s saying and how they’re saying it. That was great about the television show that I just did (Dirty Sexy Money) because the props department would tie me in when we would do something like a telephone conversation. When I had one with Donald Sutherland, I didn’t have to come into the studio to do it. They would just have me call on my cell phone from my home in Santa Barbara, and I would call in when the camera was rolling and I would literally have the conversation with him. In the old days, sometimes you would have the other actor come in on his off day just to read that telephone conversation off camera. Then that changed and you would wind up reading this telephone conversation with the script supervisor who (A) is not an actor, and (B) does not know what the choices of the actor are going to be when they shoot his side of the telephone conversation in two weeks. That can be very difficult and very stilted when they cut that telephone conversation together – sometimes you can tell by the way someone’s reacting to a line that they weren’t hearing the actor do it on that day. They just interpreted what they thought the actor was going to do on that day, and they were wrong. I’m talking about stuff that’s very subtle, like someone raising their voice a little bit in the reaction to the other person. Little things. But that’s acting. You’re not just reacting to the words, you’re reacting to the way the words were said. Was it threatening? Was it menacing? Was it intimidating? Was it submissive? It’s all based on little layers and subtleties.
QUESTION: Can you compare acting on camera to acting in the booth, and how Andrea Romano was able to guide you through those differences?
WILLIAM BALDWIN: It’s sort of a mixed bag. On camera, you’re usually acting to another actor who you’re looking at, who’s in the room with you. Today, I was in the sound room and Andrea was behind the glass. And she’s not an actor. But for a director, from a performance standpoint, she was giving me more than enough. What really helped was the specificity of her notes. When something wasn’t right, she would give me a note that would 180 it, or she would give me a little subtle note. That was great. “You’re forgetting to add in this layer” or “Give me a little bit more urgency.” At one point, I throw a punch and Superwoman catches my fist and starts to squeeze my fist. And I said, “Do you want me to wince and scream in pain when she’s crushing my fist? And am I supposed to fight the temptation of revealing to a woman – because wouldn’t Batman wouldn’t want to give away that power that a woman is causing the pain.” I mean, it would be different if Lex Luthor or Superman were doing this, right? So we sort of hashed that out and found those sort of things as we were going along.
The 7th entry in DC’s excellent animated films is focused on 2 things near and dear to any true DC fan’s heart – the Justice League and multiple earths. We’re featuring February’s Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as one of our so-called Objects of Desire for the first quarter of 2010 in the debut ish of the Arcana magazine. Thanks to Warner Bros. below is an interview with the directors of this film.
DIRECTORS LAUREN MONTGOMERY & SAM LIU DISCUSS JOYS & CHALLENGES OF JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
When you’re dealing with a story so huge that it spans multiple Earths, it’s sometimes a good idea to arm yourself with multiple directors – as did the production team behind Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.
Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu, the animation directors of the past three DC Universe films, have combined their talents to bring Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths to the screen as a blockbuster tale of super heroes and super villains engaged in the ultimate battle of parallel worlds and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.
Montgomery has been an active member of the directing team behind several of the DCU films, initially guiding the middle section of Superman Doomsday before accepting the sole directorial role for both Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight. After directing several Hulk and Thor ventures for rival Marvel, Liu made his long-form directorial debut for the DCU series on Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
As the film’s lead characters are armed with similar talents while coming from distinctly different perspectives, the same can be said of the two directors of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Both Montgomery and Liu are relatively soft-spoken individuals, yet both are opinionated in their approach to animation, diligent in their work ethic, and dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome. Over the
course of making the film, they came to learn a great deal about the other’s vision, and the result is even greater than the sum of their talents.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video on February 23, 2010 as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.
Montgomery and Liu paused from their current DCU projects (shhh … it’s a secret) to discuss their thoughts on the creation of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. FYI: The interviews were conducted separately. Montgomery’s answers are listed first because, well, decorum dictates that ladies go first …
QUESTION: How did you two go about co-directing Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: We kind of just went over the whole film together and it was really good to get two different points of view as a check and balance for
each other. If we disagreed, we found compromises that would work. If one of us felt strongly about something, we just traded off – Sam would take a sequence he felt strongly about, then I’d take one I wanted. But for the most part, we agreed. We both work in such different ways, it was interesting to see how someone else works and learn from it.
SAM LIU: We went through the film front to back, and if we ran into a problem or an area where either of us had an issue, usually where we thought it could be stronger or could be playing better, we usually solved it right on the spot. If we got to a section that was requiring a lot more revisions, one of us would jump on it and the other would move the rest of the film forward until we hit another rough spot. So that was our process.
QUESTION: What have you learned from each other?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Sam breaks things down a lot, he’s very analytical. I tend not to. He spends a lot of time thinking about the story and getting into all the
nooks and crannies of it, and I like to work with the general story. He’ll read the whole book, I’ll read the back of the book. I try to get the emotional points down so people can understand them, but Sam will go even deeper to use shots and set-ups to drive the point home, sometimes metaphorically. He thinks harder than I do.
SAM LIU: Our processes are very different. I like getting into a script and breaking things down. Maybe I don’t have the best ideas, but I’m pretty good at recognizing where things are needed. I really liked the back and forth process (with Lauren), talking about ideas and batting it back and forth to find a good solution. Lauren is more instinctual, she works more from the gut. And I think she works off reaction rather than an intellectual breakdown. I’m the other way by process. But I do feel like sometimes I over-analyze things, when sometimes it’s almost like the emotional flow of the movie is good enough. Lauren gets that. Sometimes logic can be bypassed if the scene is engaging enough, or interesting enough. It’ll bridge gaps and you don’t need to analytically fix all those gaps.
QUESTION: What do you think you might have taught each other?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I think Sam stresses out slightly less when I’m around. He stresses and I don’t. I think I calm him down a little bit. But when he’s
alone, he stresses out just as much. Hopefully I helped with that.
SAM LIU: I don’t think I taught her anything (he laughs). She’s a free-flowing,
shoot-from-the-hip kind of person, and I’m kind of an angster – I nitpick things. I like getting into the story, and from there some things do need working out – things related to the emotional journey of a character that need to be highlighted or punctuated to set something up for later. I’m a stickler for things like that. And I
think she saw those things.
I do stress, though – and there are times when I’m freaking out about something and she puts me at total ease. And then there’s times when I’m freaking out and she’s fighting me on it, and it makes it worse. I think we’re both control freaks in our own way, it’s just a difference in approach. I fixate on a lot of things, and she thinks things are just good enough, so let’s move on. We have an innate concept about the overall picture, but she focuses more on the acting and poses and timing and movement, and I think more on structure. I guess there’s a good balance.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite scene in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: There’s a fight between Wonder Woman and Olympia that I thought was really beautifully animated. That’s always fun to watch. It was
boarded well, but the overseas animators took the drawings from the boards and really plussed it out. I think they just enjoy animating girl fights overseas because those scenes always come back looking good.
SAM LIU: More than one scene, I like the overall relatability of the Justice League characters. There was great character interaction. When I watch movies, I like something that has an emotional connection, and this film definitely does.
Specifically, I think the spectacle of these evenly matched supers fighting was really cool. Superman versus Ultraman. Flash fighting someone equally as fast. Strengths against strengths. Jay Oliva boarded the last fight sequence and the Superwoman-Wonder Woman fight is great. They’re both strong, super powerful women and I think it was brutal enough as is, but the way Jay made Wonder Woman use the lasso to slam Superwoman to the ground is pretty amazing.
The battle between Owlman and Batman is awesome, too, because it’s sort of this weird intellectual standoff. Owlman is so far into his psychosis as to how the universe operates, it’s very existential. His concept is crazy, but the way he reasons out the technology of how things work and the way he thinks, it gave us great room to improvise Batman’s reaction. And then when they actually fight, it’s brutal. They do these gadget fights, sort of a modern ninja battle. The sound effects on the planet, the colors, the way it’s animated, it all works really well. And James Woods’ voice is perfect – most of the Crime Syndicate is very thuggish, they’re all about stealing money. But Owlman has created the ultimate plan to annihilate everybody, and James Woods does this great build-up. It’s great acting. He plays
Owlman as a little bit off and kind of creepy, but not sinister creepy. His cadence is great, and his voice is almost charming in a way. It was a good mix of all the things I thought we’d have a problem with if we went too far one way or the other. It’s a great, tight sequence and I’m very happy the way it all came together.
QUESTION: What were the challenges of directing this film?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: It was a challenge because we had a really large cast of characters – lots of main characters – and they all needed a decent amount of
screen time. Both the good guys and the bad. We had to make sure the audience got to know each of those characters and make sure they had a presence in the film that was important, and that was a challenge.
SAM LIU: Definitely the size of the cast and how to give enough screen time to
everyone. At one point, Green Lantern was a little light on having enough important things to do. We needed to add a bit for Lex Luthor, too, and I still don’t think we did enough. We added a fight to show that Lex can fight, too, and tried to beef him up a bit. But there just wasn’t enough screen time to accommodate everyone.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite character?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Superwoman … just because she’s so wrong. She’s a bully, but she’s got the muscle to back it up. She’s everything you shouldn’t be, but is fun to work with.
QUESTION: What skills you learned or developed on past projects were you able to apply to this film?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: We had the same animation studio that did Wonder Woman, so we were able to draw from the work done on Wonder Woman and improve on that. Overall, the animation was good in Wonder Woman, but there was some poor stuff, too. I think they really improved – they saw what we
responded to in Wonder Woman and they tried to do what they knew we liked, and it was good.
SAM LIU: I think, this whole process was better for me this time, especially working with Bruce (Timm) and Lauren. I was able to let go a little bit and not have to over-think things, and still know that things would work out. I generally stress over everything until the very last minute. With Lauren, I sort of learned that you can say “that’s enough” and move on to the next thing. I appreciate Lauren and her patience, and that we’re still friends. In the end, you take care of the important things and everything will work out.
QUESTION: So, are you happy being an animation director?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: It’s never been an easy job. It can be draining. But it’s still a really fun job. I mean, we get to work on great stories with iconic characters. I know people who would kill to work on Batman and Superman. When you think of it that way – well, if I weren’t working in this job, I’d definitely want to. A little bit of the excitement is taken off because I’ve done it so many times, but it’s still a really cool thing to do.
SAM LIU: I love doing long-form animation. I’ve been offered to go back to TV
series, but I like this better. Direct-to-videos are hard – you have a short amount of time to create a world from the ground up every time and, once it’s done, it goes on the shelf and you move on – but I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with BSP (Broadcast, Standards & Practices – the network’s content watchdogs). What I love most is that you get to tell stories people can love, you can have emotional pain and great action, and you get to work with things that are too adult for
children’s broadcasting. That’s the stuff that I like – telling full stories. So I’m very happy.
QUESTION: What’s your favorite part of the job?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: The best part is when you see the film start to come back (from overseas animation studios) and it’s looking good. That’s a really
nice part. When you see it coming together to be something good, that’s very satisfying. You know all your hard work has paid off.
SAM LIU: I think it has to be working with the story and the characters. I love
the development of the characters and how they fit into the story, helping their growth, even if it’s subtle or small. I like finding the core of what our story is about and trying to push that story. I think most of the time it’s about the characters and their conflicts in the beginning, and how they resolve those conflicts. On this film, we were able to do that a lot even after production had been underway – particularly with Batman’s motivation, and showing why it was important for him to stay behind and get Watchtower online. Superman believes one thing; Batman has a different opinion. It’s a conflict, and it pays off later.
QUESTION: You’ve been living with this film for well over a year. Can you still watch and enjoy it?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I enjoy it most with a new audience. You get to see their reactions, and it makes me look at it in a new light. I enjoy watching all of our movies, which is a good thing – it’s nice to be able to watch what you’ve done and feel good about it.
SAM LIU: It’s hard sometimes, because when you’re making a movie, there’s so
many things you want and wish for, and you still tend to see the things that are missing. In this case, I’m comfortable watching because there are so many things that were done right. I’m not comfortable watching some of my older stuff. But this is one of the best movies I’ve ever worked on, and it’s very satisfying. I think
there’s the right amount of action, good conflict, good closure, and intelligent characters. They’re not just one-dimensional characters. So it’s satisfying to watch.
QUESTION: What’s the DC Universe film you hope to direct some day?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I want that Aquaman project, but I doubt we’ll every make it.
SAM LIU: I’d love to do Sandman from the Vertigo line. I don’t know what kind
of story that would be, but I’d love to work with Neil Gaiman because I really loved those comics.
QUESTION: Now that you can see the final product, how do the voices match their animated characters?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Gina Torres and James Woods are probably my favorites. Everybody loves Owlman. He’s such a unique character. Gina is really good as Superwoman – she has this strong, seductive, confident voice, and it makes you fear and respect her. Mark Harmon is really good as Superman. At first I was worried because I thought his age might come through, but his voice really works well. It’s funny because when we started watching the voice with the animation, it struck us how you could hear little tones of George Newbern and Tim Daly – two of our regular Supermans – in his voice, which is pretty cool.
SAM LIU: I really liked Mark Harmon – he’s got a gentle streak and it goes
really well with the strength of his voice. When he was in the recording booth, I thought he might be too gentle, but it works even in the scenes where he has to be more assertive or powerful. I think it works really well because it never crosses that line of him being mean or not genuine or sneaky. It’s very pure, just as Superman should be.
I also thought Josh Keaton did a great job as Flash. He’s hilarious. So much of these movies are based on the acting, and Josh really sold it. The chemistry between characters was good, too. James Woods and Gina Torres have this strange relationship, and their acting makes them real characters. They really engaged their personalities. That’s what good actors do. The voices in this cast really flesh out the characters and give them texture.
Not that fanboys would necessarily be familiar with the actor’s portrayal of Mr. Big from Sex and the City (though that does sound like a Warren Ellis superhero name, doesn’t it?) but actor Chris Noth’s geek stakes are improved thanks to his voice acting of the good Lex Luthor from February 23′s animated DVD, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Thanks to Warner Bros. below is the official interview with the man himself and a few new images of the heroic Luthor.
If Sex In the City fans were confused over their see-saw love affair with Chris Noth’s Mr. Big, comics fans will endure an equal amount of trepidation over Noth’s latest performance – as the voice of a “good” Lex Luthor – in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie coming February 23, 2010 from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer, and Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.
Noth has had a lengthy television presence as both Mr. Big in Sex and the City and as Mike Logan in Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He can currently be seen starring opposite Julianna Margulies
in the CBS drama The Good Wife. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths represents Noth’s inaugural dip into the animated pool. In Los Angeles to record his 100-plus lines as Lex Luthor, Noth took time during the marathon session to discuss his first animated role. Without further ado …
CHRIS NOTH: I think I did about three lines of Mike Logan on Family Guy. That was a quick little gig. The character (Stewie) on the show carries a picture of Mike Logan in his wallet, so I was very flattered by that.
But that was just a few lines – so Lex is pretty much my first real animated role.
QUESTION: In that case, can you describe what your first “actual” animation voiceover experience was like?
CHRIS NOTH: I felt I had an instinct for it, and it was a lot of fun. It’s an interesting technique and, like any medium, whether you’re doing radio or certain kinds of narrative voiceovers for stage or movies, it has
its own sort of rules and performance values. I think the choices had to be bold and succinct and clear. To me, it appears that super heroes have to be powerful, but it also has to be real. You have to make bold
choices and go all the way through with them. That’s true with a lot of acting anyway. But with animation, it seems to me there’s nothing coy about it. The acting has its own subtleties. So you have to find that balance. And as long as you go with that instinct, it’s a blast.
QUESTION: Did you take a different approach to this Lex Luthor – a good guy Lex – than you would’ve taken with a typically villainous Lex?
CHRIS NOTH: I was extremely excited to be playing the ultimate villain from my youth. I remember how Gene Hackman portayed Lex Luthor with such great delight in the films, and I thought I’d be getting that Lex. So I was surprised to see that in this script, Lex is actually on the right side of the law. It required a whole new thinking on my part on how to approach him. I mean, he’s a super hero who’s in this very complex, parallel universe. He’s actually trying to save all of reality from being destroyed. So I just took that adjustment and said, “Wow, I need to get up to date on my super heroes.” I’m guess I’m a little bit retro. (he laughs)
QUESTION: Do you feel any special significance to be joining the canon of actors – Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, Michael Rosenbaum, Clancy Brown – to have brought Lex Luthor to life?
CHRIS NOTH: Initially when I heard about the role, I thought about that great tradition of actors associated with Lex. And I really feel honored to be a part of that group. But this is a complete departure from those
performances. This time, Lex is on the right side of the law. He’s worlds away from the old Lex.
QUESTION: You’ve done your share of Shakespeare. Can you characterize Lex within the context of some of the great literary or stage heroes/villains?
CHRIS NOTH: Not this Lex. I find super heroes to be more archetypes of values of courage and fortitude and things like that. It’s interesting to me that the new world of animation, compared to when I was growing up, is so much more diverse in its characters. There’s so many more of them, and it’s a much more complicated world. The old comic books that I grew up on had these characters that were in many ways Shakespearean.
They were very big with their evilness in the same vein as Richard III in Shakespeare. Those characters relished being bad, and that’s always fun to play.
QUESTION: How did you find working alone in a sound booth versus playing off other actors?
CHRIS NOTH: It presented a different challenge in the same way that a radio play is different from being on stage, and being on stage is different than being in the movies, and the movies are different than being on a TV series. They all have different values that are fun to explore and to take a crack at. So I found it challenging and interesting to jump into that world.
QUESTION: Did it get easier when Bruce Davison joined you at the microphone?
CHRIS NOTH: That was even more fun because I know Bruce and it’s always more fun to work off another person. Sandy Meisner, the great acting teacher, used to say that what you do doesn’t depend on you. It depends on the other fellow. In other words, they make you respond. So when Bruce came in, there was a new kind of energy that I sort of relished. I didn’t have that many scenes with him, but he was a lot of fun and I think he made a great President.
QUESTION: As you are new to animation voiceovers, you’re also new to the direction involved. How did you find Andrea Romano’s direction?
CHRIS NOTH: (Animation) is very quick, it’s to the point, and very on message, and you have to just go with it. Andrea was extremely helpful to me to get some of the tone and in knowing what you have to keep in mind with what’s happening to the character in the scene. Whether it’s an intimate scene or there’s a lot of action, she keeps you on point. So she’s a very good field marshal.
Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about! Whereas Marvel’s direct to DVD animated films have been fairly bland affairs treated with kid gloves, Warner Bros. are giving DC diehards film after film to get excited about. It’s a smart approach that they’ve employed with every recent film, such as Superman/Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and it goes a little something like this; don’t bog down the story in exposition but just get straight to what the fans want. Apparently Public Enemies sold like gangbusters, and now Warner Bros. are considering a first for this series; a sequel.
This approach works splendidly, as it’s the fanboys and girls that lap this stuff up and expect the same kind of maturity and action they get from their comics. However, with great extras explaining just who these characters are and revealing a little DC history, newbies need not be overwhelmed, but hopefully intrigued by the DCU.
So, gushing aside, next year’s DVD feature is entitled Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and features a good Lex Luthor from an alternate earth visiting “our” Justice League’s aid in wiping out their evil counterparts, the Crime Syndicate. Trailer below. I said Public Enemies was the best of these films, but I may just have to revise that statement early next year.