JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED: Making of the Series Part 5

JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED: Making of the Series Part 5

In the fifth installment of this exhaustive look back at JL Animated, the focus is turned to the casting of Green Lantern/John Stewart and Superman, featuring the reflections of the respective actors who voiced them, Phil LaMarr and George Newbern, as well as vocal/casting director Andrea Romano.


Phil LaMarr was an actor I’d worked with on a series called Static Shock. He had done an audition at his agent’s office and I thought he was very, very good. I called up some people who had worked with him and tried to get some background. If I’m going to commit to a series with somebody, I want to know that it’s going to be a pleasant experience. I like to think of putting together a cast as being similar to putting together a party. Who’s going to have fun together? Who’s going to play well together? Who’s going to bring something to the party? As I was doing my research on Phil, I got very positive response, he gets the joke, he understands what’s going on. Like I said, I had gotten to know him on Static Shock. We were auditioning for Justice League and we brought him in when we decided that we wanted Green Lantern to be played by an actor of color. Phil did a voice for me that he’d never done. When you do a series like Static Shock, and I think we did 52 episodes of that series, and you cast him as a lot of other incidental roles within, you think you’ve heard them all. But he did five different versions of the voice for us and we were all blown away. All of them were good. On Static Shock he played a 16 or 17-year-old boy. With Green Lantern, we play him with this depth to his voice and this kind of military feel, which we wanted for the role. We wanted to play him almost like a Marine, and he just blew us away. So that was kind of easy casting.

The most significant evolution for the character has been having a personal life and a romantic life. Initially, I think because it was a new series and there were so many characters, you didn’t really get much information about anybody. So it’s been really cool to have more and more information come out. And emotional depth information. We know more about these characters personally than you do about the Law & Order guys after so many years.. On the other hand you’ve got NYPD Blue where it’s like, “He had cancer, his son died, then his wife died” – too much personal information. We’re not there. I think the writers have done an amazing job of tying in character information and developments into plot, so it’s not one at the expense of the other. The big break up episode [“Starcrossed”] has earth being invaded and enslaved. That’s the episode where I meet my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

It’s really interesting for comic book characters, because these characters have been around for decades upon decades and are generally not allowed to develop in the comics. Or if they do, someone has to come along and erase it every 10 years. Bruce Timm and the writers have made a conscious decision that we’re taking these characters and putting them in our world and the rules here are different. Everybody doesn’t come back to one at the end of every episode. We don’t take all the comic book continuity, we take what we like. The producers have certainly earned the freedom.

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