Vintage Interviews with the Makers of the DCAU

Yojimbo

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That did happen several times over the years. An actor just wasn’t working out — a suitable replacement was right there in the room — during a break, Andrea would discreetly ask them to stay after class — we’d finish recording with the first actor so as not to embarrass them in front of the other actors — and after everyone else had left, we’d record the replacement. That was how Victor Rivers ended up as Hro Talak in “Starcrossed”, for instance.
Are you at liberty to say who Mr. Rivers replaced?

But OMG, I’d completely forgotten that Dianne wasn’t our ”first” Poison Ivy! Here’s the scoop: it was a rare instance of one of Andrea’s “Outside The Box” ideas not bearing fruit. Singer Melissa Manchester (“Midnight Blue”, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You”) was Ivy at the initial record. We had been talking about Ivy‘s voice having a “film noir / femme fatale“ quality. Andrea had heard from Ms. Manchester’s agent that she was interested in doing voice acting, and she thought her voice had a sultry quality that fit the “film noir” bill — and we were both fans of her music — and so we gave it a shot. Her voice DID have a lovely, mid-range, “smoky” sound, but acting-wise she just wasn’t quite what we wanted. And Dianne was there, she knocked it out of the park, and Bob’s your uncle.
Thanks for shedding some light on that. Boy I remember she sang a lot on Ice Castles, the ice skating movie the critics totally panned. All I remember is the ending when the girl tripped on the roses thrown in by the crowds.
 

b.t.

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Are you at liberty to say who Mr. Rivers replaced?

Well....I’m not really sure if there’s an industry standard for this sort of thing, whether or not it’s entirely appropriate. I spilled the beans on Ms. Manchester in this thread only because she’s not really known as an actor anyway, and the revelation isn’t likely to hurt her career at this late date.

What I can say about the Original Hro Talak actor is that it was one of the biggest professional disappointments of my career. I’d been a huge fan of the actor in question for decades. Andrea and I had tried to get him to come play with us for years and years, but his agent was always “Oh no, he wouldn’t be interested” and then, finally, when we were casting “Starcrossed”, we got lucky and booked him to record all three episodes in one massive session, along with the rest of the cast. Andrea and I (and our co-producers and directors) were thrilled.

We knew pretty early on while recording the first episode that it wasn’t going to work. He underplayed every single line in a calm, quiet voice, barely above a whisper. Andrea tried every trick in her arsenal to try to inject some energy into his performance, but it just wasn’t happening. So, during the break between episodes, we reluctantly made the decision to finish recording the episodes with him, for appearances sake (SAG rules required us to pay him for all three anyway, whether we actually recorded him or not) and have Victor Rivers re-do the Hro Talak lines after we let everyone else go.

(And thank god, Victor was MAGNIFICENT.)

To this day, I don’t know if our Original Talak was just nervous because he wasn’t used to voice acting, or if he was just having an “off” day, or what. In retrospect, it’s also entirely possible that we’d simply miscalculated. We wanted Talak to be a strong, commanding, almost “macho” presence, and the actor in question DOES have an extremely powerful presence on film. But looking back, quite a bit of that power is a physical thing — it’s in his look, his body language, his facial acting — he rarely raises his voice. He doesn’t need to. But in animation work, an actor’s voice is the ONLY tool they have to convey personality and a range of emotion. So, for our purposes, it was just an unfortunately bad fit.

For years, I didn’t want to mention his name in the context of this story, out of professional courtesy. He sadly passed away about a year and a half ago...and I’m still reluctant. Even though he’s gone now. Like tears in rain.
 
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GrantM

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You've been here since 2001 and you didn't know that?

Lol I kid. But yes it's him.
I legit didn't!, plus i've kinda been here on and off over the years. It's hard to keep up with who comes and goes here

Next thing you'll tell me that Paul Dini posts here too!
 
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Yojimbo

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For years, I didn’t want to mention his name in the context of this story, out of professional courtesy. He sadly passed away about a year and a half ago...and I’m still reluctant. Even though he’s gone now. Like tears in rain.
I understand and thank you for elaborating on how Rivers got the role..

Were these recasting situations pretty rare between B:TAS to JLU or is there a vault filled with audio files of actors who were replaced?
 

b.t.

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I understand and thank you for elaborating on how Rivers got the role..

Were these recasting situations pretty rare between B:TAS to JLU or is there a vault filled with audio files of actors who were replaced?
I would say such re-castings happen fairly rarely. Maybe ten or fifteen times out of the hundreds of hours of animation I’ve produced over these last few decades. A few memorable instances:

The late, great Charles Napier wasn’t our first General Hardcastle on SUPERMAN and JLU. The first guy we hired was a widely respected TV and film actor, who just didn’t work out.

The lead Guardian played by Brian George in IN BLACKEST NIGHT was originally played by another actor, someone I’d admired since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, the years hadn’t treated him well, and he was just too weak and frail.

John DiMaggio wasn’t our first Joker in UNDER THE RED HOOD. Again, we had originally cast an actor that most of us had been fans of for decades. He’s played a lot of eccentric characters over the years but his performance as the Joker was just TOO weird. Almost randomly so — many of his line readings were almost non-sequiturs. Because of the nature of that particular story, we really needed Joker to sound absolutely evil and terrifying, which our first actor just couldn’t quite deliver. Brandon Vietti and I tried REALLY hard to make it work. While assembling the animatic, we were able to piece together a halfway decent performance in places but there were a bunch of lines that sounded just SO freaking odd, they were un-usable. We’d call up the Dialogue Editor and have him find all of the original unedited takes, to see if maybe there was something we could salvage. But after a couple of hours, we finally threw in the towel. Fortunately, John was available to replace the first gentleman and he knocked it out of the park.

I‘m pretty sure I’ve told the “Three Jennifers To Play One Princess” story before. Our first Jennifer came in to play Cetea the Space Princess in an episode of SUPERMAN, but long story short, it didn’t work out. We were lucky to get the amazing Jennifer Jason Leigh to replace Jennifer #1, and she was great. Months later, we needed her to do some ADR and fight walla but she was shooting a movie out of town somewhere and wouldn’t be available before our delivery deadline. At that point, Jennifer Hale came in to re-do a few of Jennifer #2’s lines and all of her oofs and ughs.
 

Yojimbo

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I would say such re-castings happen fairly rarely. Maybe ten or fifteen times out of the hundreds of hours of animation I’ve produced over these last few decades. A few memorable instances:
Wow, I would never have guessed those 4 roles were recasts! Like I couldn't fathom General Hardcastle was voiced by someone other than Mr. Napier. Mind blown. I mean I thought the biggest shocker I read was Tim Daly wasn't the original VA for Superman on STAS, but... again, thank you for sharing all this.
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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I would love to know who else was in the running for Batman back on 'B:TAS'. Romano has said that of the 150 actors she read, there were 5 or 6 that could ''maybe'' have worked with some coaching.

A bit like the John DiMaggio/Diedrich Bader situation on 'Batman: The Brave & The Bold'. Did anyone else have the part (even reluctantly) before Conroy swooped in and satisfied all?

I understand if names aren't given. It was quite the role to lose and who would have guessed Conroy would still be playing the character 30 years later. Not a fun thought for another actor.
 
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GrantM

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I understand if names aren't given. It was quite the role to lose and who would have guessed Conroy would still be playing the character 30 years later. Not a fun thought for another actor.
I could say the same thing about Mark Hamill as Joker given his most recent shot as the character was on Scooby Doo And Guess Who (still holding out for him showing up in Teen Titans Go, and if he does I hope Harley Quinn gets brought along for the ride since her VA works on that show)

Actually knowing now that Bruce Timm posts here, I suppose if I had to ask something........I finally finished all of The New Batman Adventures part of Batman TAS and I got to wondering if there were any plans to continue it after just 24 episodes (IIRC Kids WB wanted to focus more on Batman Beyond). I feel like some things in it like the increased role of Batgirl wern't fully realised for example but that's how I see it (though maybe i'm admittedly biased cause I freaking love and adore the DC Super Hero Girls take on Batgirl)
 
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Otaku-sempai

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I would say such re-castings happen fairly rarely. Maybe ten or fifteen times out of the hundreds of hours of animation I’ve produced over these last few decades. A few memorable instances...
And the most famous example from Batman: The Animated Series, without doubt, is the original casting of Tim Curry for the Joker.
 

b.t.

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I mean I thought the biggest shocker I read was Tim Daly wasn't the original VA for Superman on STAS, but... again, thank you for sharing all this.
Tim wasn’t our first Superman?

I would love to know who else was in the running for Batman back on 'B:TAS'. Romano has said that of the 150 actors she read, there were 5 or 6 that could ''maybe'' have worked with some coaching.

A bit like the John DiMaggio/Diedrich Bader situation on 'Batman: The Brave & The Bold'. Did anyone else have the part (even reluctantly) before Conroy swooped in and satisfied all?
From the original BTAS auditions, the only two actors that I can specifically remember out of the dozens and dozens of aspiring Batmans were Sam Jones and Gil Gerard. I thought it was pretty dang cool that we had both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers trying out for the part. :)

As far as I was concerned, there was NO ONE in the running until Kevin showed up. At the time, I had a very specific idea in my head about what Batman should sound like, and I wasn’t hearing it from anyone. Like, not even close. My memory is that Eric Radomski was on the exact same page with me — I suspect we both kinda/sorta had Michael Keaton’s spooky rough-edged whisper approach in mind.

Actually knowing now that Bruce Timm posts here, I suppose if I had to ask something........I finally finished all of The New Batman Adventures part of Batman TAS and I got to wondering if there were any plans to continue it after just 24 episodes (IIRC Kids WB wanted to focus more on Batman Beyond).
I don’t recall any specific TNBA stories, character arcs or long-term plans that we had in mind when the plug got pulled — we just wanted to do MORE.
 
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Classic Speedy

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“We’ve had a couple of studios [Akom, Sunrise] that we’ve had to dump after a while because it was just a consistent problem getting what we wanted and having to fight over it and not seeing anything get any better. We had to do some shuffling as to where we were going to get the best production done, and we just managed to get through it somehow.

“It would be nice to be able to get production back in the States, but I don’t know when that will happen, as far as television goes, because it’s just too expensive to do it here. Eventually, I would like to think that we’ll get to a point where things will even out and we can train more people and do more of the animation here.
I think you made a mistake by dumping Sunrise. I've said previously that I enjoyed their work on the series, and frankly I would've rather had more of them than Dong Yang, for example, which didn't impress me much (except in those instances when Spectrum or TMS provided layouts or additional animation).

But your second comment is prescient- thanks to Flash, Harmony, etc., we've seen more productions move back stateside, or at least to next-door Canada if nothing else.
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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From the original BTAS auditions, the only two actors that I can specifically remember out of the dozens and dozens of aspiring Batmans were Sam Jones and Gil Gerard. I thought it was pretty dang cool that we had both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers trying out for the part. :)

As far as I was concerned, there was NO ONE in the running until Kevin showed up. At the time, I had a very specific idea in my head about what Batman should sound like, and I wasn’t hearing it from anyone. Like, not even close. My memory is that Eric Radomski was on the exact same page with me — I suspect we both kinda/sorta had Michael Keaton’s spooky rough-edged whisper approach in mind.

Thanks for answering. Seems like Conroy was truly destined for the part. Perfect casting... let's hope he has many more years behind the mic to come.
 

Yojimbo

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Tim wasn’t our first Superman?
According to a Batman newsletter, during Wondercon 1999, you and Paul Dini said something to the effect of "an actor from the "Darkman" movies that they had a good idea could play the role. When they called him in, the actor had just found out the night before, that a new tv show he was starring in, had just been cancelled, he'd been up all night worried and he'd now been reduced to finding voice work in cartoons. He came in...read one line...stopped…told the guys he just couldn't do it...got up and walked out." Then Daly was cast after that.

On second thought, it looks I read too much into it and this actor was called into read for the part but he wasn't actually booked.
I don’t recall any specific TNBA stories, character arcs or long-term plans that we had in mind when the plug got pulled — we just wanted to do MORE.
The only thing I've found is Rich Fogel mentioned he wrote up a Copperhead outline during the Batman: The Animated Podcast #35 (55:48-55:51, 56-56:10 mark). He said, "I actually had a pretty good outline at one point. I can't remember what the story was but it was a pretty good Copperhead outline that was written when we weren't sure whether there were going to be more episodes coming around."

I guess some writers were doing outlines for a theoretical season 3 because at that point in production most of the TNBA episodes were in post, they had to do some kind of work rather before the bean counters realized they were getting paid to stare off into space in the office?
 
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GrantM

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Tim wasn’t our first Superman?


From the original BTAS auditions, the only two actors that I can specifically remember out of the dozens and dozens of aspiring Batmans were Sam Jones and Gil Gerard. I thought it was pretty dang cool that we had both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers trying out for the part. :)
WHAT!?!..........as someone who loved Buck Rogers as a kid and Flash Gordon this is new to me!. Imagine an alternate universe if one of them got the part.........same with if Tim Curry stayed on as Joker
I don’t recall any specific TNBA stories, character arcs or long-term plans that we had in mind when the plug got pulled — we just wanted to do MORE.
Fair enough
 

b.t.

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According to a Batman newsletter, during Wondercon 1999, you and Paul Dini said something to the effect of "an actor from the "Darkman" movies that they had a good idea could play the role. When they called him in, the actor had just found out the night before, that a new tv show he was starring in, had just been cancelled, he'd been up all night worried and he'd now been reduced to finding voice work in cartoons. He came in...read one line...stopped…told the guys he just couldn't do it...got up and walked out." Then Daly was cast after that.

On second thought, it looks I read too much into it and this actor was called into read for the part but he wasn't actually booked.
Ah. Right.

Jeff Fahey. Terrific actor. He’d been starring on a TV series called THE MARSHALL for two seasons when he came in to audition. We noticed right away that something was bothering him but had no idea what it was.

He goes into the booth and reads a few lines and he sounds AMAZING. We’re all going, ‘’Holy cow, what a voice this guy has!“ and then all of a sudden he says, “I’m really sorry, folks, I can’t do this” and walks out of the booth. We’re all trying to coax him into continuing the audition but he just puts his head down, says “Sorry” again and BAMF! he’s gone.

We stare at it each other, stunned — “What the heck was THAT about?” Andrea reaches out to Fahey’s agent who apologizes and explains that they‘d just found out his series had been cancelled. Apparently he was taking the cancellation really hard. Without putting words in his mouth, we figured it might have seemed like, “Oh great, yesterday I was a Network TV star and today, I’m auditioning for a cartoon.” Which WOULD be a big reduction in his weekly earnings at the very least, so — understandable.

Y’know, it’s a shame we never thought about bringing him back to do a guest spot on one of our other shows after things settled down. Hmmm....excuse me....just making a mental note for the future...

The only other actor I remember auditioning for Superman was Bruce Campbell. Which was very cool, but none of us were really feeling him as Superman. Oh, and Clancy Brown, of course :) .

Further down the road, when we needed to find a new Superman for JUSTICE LEAGUE, James Tucker and I thought we’d found our guy : Gregory Harrison (FALCON CREST, LOGAN’S RUN). At the audition, he sounded WAY different than Tim Daly, his voice much deeper, more ’macho’, kinda like Budd Colyer from the Fleischer and Filmation cartoons — which was kinda what James and I were looking for. We’d heard lots of actors with deep ‘manly’ voices at the auditions but they all tended to sound like radio announcers. Harrison had the pipes but was also a really good actor, seemed strong and dynamic but very natural. He exited the booth, we told him he sounded awesome, and he seemed very pleased. Andrea asked him what else he had going on and he excitedly told us he was embarking on a tour of some stage show. Uh-oh. And just how LONG was this tour supposed to last...? ‘Oh, I’m gonna be gone all summer’ he said cheerily. We were supposed to start recording the show in about two weeks.

Crap! Back to the drawing board. And besides Harrison, we hadn’t heard ANYONE we liked.

Fortunately, George Newbern was right around the corner. He might even have auditioned later that same day. We liked him right away, his audition was really solid and we recognized that he had that same ‘Nice Guy Superman’ quality that Tim had (and Christopher Reeve too, for that matter). Even though he wasn’t the type we’d specifically been searching for, we knew he would be a good fit continuity-wise with Tim’s version from the previous show, without sounding like an exact copy.
 

Yojimbo

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Jeff Fahey. Terrific actor. He’d been starring on a TV series called THE MARSHALL for two seasons when he came in to audition. We noticed right away that something was bothering him but had no idea what it was.

He goes into the booth and reads a few lines and he sounds AMAZING. We’re all going, ‘’Holy cow, what a voice this guy has!“ and then all of a sudden he says, “I’m really sorry, folks, I can’t do this” and walks out of the booth. We’re all trying to coax him into continuing the audition but he just puts his head down, says “Sorry” again and BAMF! he’s gone.

We stare at it each other, stunned — “What the heck was THAT about?” Andrea reaches out to Fahey’s agent who apologizes and explains that they‘d just found out his series had been cancelled. Apparently he was taking the cancellation really hard. Without putting words in his mouth, we figured it might have seemed like, “Oh great, yesterday I was a Network TV star and today, I’m auditioning for a cartoon.” Which WOULD be a big reduction in his weekly earnings at the very least, so — understandable.

Y’know, it’s a shame we never thought about bringing him back to do a guest spot on one of our other shows after things settled down. Hmmm....excuse me....just making a mental note for the future...
Wow, brutal news to hear right before an audition. Totally understandable.

I recall digging his take on Quentin Turnbull in a Jonah Hex-guest starring episode of Legends of Tomorrow episode a few years back.
The only other actor I remember auditioning for Superman was Bruce Campbell. Which was very cool, but none of us were really feeling him as Superman. Oh, and Clancy Brown, of course :) .
Bruce Campbell! Whoa! I totally fancasted that guy as so many Ditko characters. Plastic Man. Ted Kord. Odd Man (don't judge me, that guy cracks me up). That must have been a trip hearing him do Superman. That audition must have been right after Brisco County Jr. or even around the time he had a guest spot of Lois & Clark.

Further down the road, when we needed to find a new Superman for JUSTICE LEAGUE, James Tucker and I thought we’d found our guy : Gregory Harrison (FALCON CREST, LOGAN’S RUN). At the audition, he sounded WAY different than Tim Daly, his voice much deeper, more ’macho’, kinda like Budd Colyer from the Fleischer and Filmation cartoons — which was kinda what James and I were looking for. We’d heard lots of actors with deep ‘manly’ voices at the auditions but they all tended to sound like radio announcers. Harrison had the pipes but was also a really good actor, seemed strong and dynamic but very natural. He exited the booth, we told him he sounded awesome, and he seemed very pleased.
And he was on the TRAPPER JOHN 'spin off' too I think... And DARK SKIES. Ah, Dark Skies. AKA Scully and Mulder 2.0. lol.

Andrea asked him what else he had going on and he excitedly told us he was embarking on a tour of some stage show. Uh-oh. And just how LONG was this tour supposed to last...? ‘Oh, I’m gonna be gone all summer’ he said cheerily. We were supposed to start recording the show in about two weeks.
Ha ha, oh man. 'Going on tour' must have felt like a gut punch. Thanks for adding this anecdote in btw, I always wondered how Mr. Newbern got the role.
 

EmaHalJordan

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Since Bruce Timm @b.t. is answering things:
I remember when Ray Palmer was mentioned in Hereafter part.2, I got really excited and thought, we could have Atom as the first new member, did you ever consider that?

And seeing as Hal appeared in the Justice League vs Fatal Five movie, could we one day have the answer to how Green Lantern Hal Jordan enters the DCAU? maybe in a new a animated movie?
 

b.t.

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Since Bruce Timm @b.t. is answering things:
I remember when Ray Palmer was mentioned in Hereafter part.2, I got really excited and thought, we could have Atom as the first new member, did you ever consider that?

And seeing as Hal appeared in the Justice League vs Fatal Five movie, could we one day have the answer to how Green Lantern Hal Jordan enters the DCAU? maybe in a new a animated movie?
The mention of Ray Palmer was just a kinda throwaway Easter Egg. Aside from the occasional ‘guest star’ heroes like Aquaman and Metamorpho, we never really had any plans to expand the ranks of the League during those first few seasons. We occasionally had vague discussions of who would replace Hawkgirl after ‘Starcrossed’ — because we‘d had that storyline planned since Day One — but we figured we could deal with that when the time came. Little did we know that we’d end up replacing her with over FIFTY new League members....

Hal’s appearance in JLVFF was again more like a fun Easter Egg than planting an actual seed for future stories. Sorry to disappoint you, but if I ever get to do another DCAU JL movie, I’d most likely just bring back John Stewart — and Shayera and J’onn and Wally. I miss those characters, and would dearly love to work with that entire amazing cast again someday.
 

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