ALL-STAR SUPERMAN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: One-On-One With James Denton

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: One-On-One With James Denton

With the animated All-Star Superman being released on February 22nd, CBM Editor Ed Gross managed a bit of sit down time with actor James Denton to discuss his role of the Man of Steel.

The road from Wisteria Lane to Metropolis isn’t an easy one, the journey proving more arduous than James Denton had expected when he began it.

“Part of being an actor is you don’t have a lot of stage fright,” Denton, who plays Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives and voices the Man of Steel in the animated feature All-Star Superman, explains. “You don’t deal with a lot of nerves. If you do, I think you’ll sort of struggle. I’m a theater guy, so that’s sort of what drew me to it. I was able to do it without the flop sweats –I was never scared of being in front of people. But this, All-Star Superman, terrified me. And it still does.”

He admits that he’s not sure he can actually read the reviews, and was even filled with trepidation doing this interview. “I know it sounds crazy,” he says, dead serious, “but even for a guy who is not that educated on the subject, or who has not followed Superman as closely over the years as a lot of people have, I find that doing voice work is a different animal and I’m kind of new to it. But I had to trust [voice director] Andrea Romano, who’s directed everyone in the voice over business and was a lot of help. I just had to believe her when she said, ‘We’ve got it, move on,’ because like everyone else, when you hear your voice on the answering machine for the first time, the impulse is to say, ‘I hate my voice.’ Actors are no different.”



An exception, he feels, might be Anthony LaPaglia, who voices Lex Luthor and has, says Denton, a “fantastic” voice.

“But when I heard the first playback,” Denton reflects, “I thought that, suddenly, Superman is a pussy. On the one hand you think of the iconic Superman, and then it’s your voice. You know all of your weaknesses and frailties and insecurities, and then suddenly you hear your voice come out of Superman…. It’s bizarre, to say the least. And it’s hard for me to watch, which I wasn’t expecting at all. At the same time, it was great to go out on a limb.”
In All-Star Superman, based on Grant Morrison’s maxi-series of the same name, Lex Luthor’s machinations result in Superman’s cells being so over-charged with solar energy that he’s dying, and in the time he’s got left he wants to accomplish a wide variety of things, which have the effect of demonstrating to the world the best of what it means to be Superman. In a sense, it’s one of the most humanized versions of the character presented.

“Finding that was tough,” says Denton. “While Superman is not monotone, he’s also not very emotional. In voice work you tend to go a little further than you would if people were watching you in a camera, so it’s a little bit melodramatic, but with Superman you can’t do that. You can’t go to these emotional places, because that’s not what Superman does. And then you have fun with Clark Kent, which is the challenge – not to be the bumbling idiot. So the fun thing was making Clark Kent human while taking much more of the emotion out of Superman to make him more controlled. I remember Grant Morrison saying one time that there were kind of three people there. Superman and Clark Kent are the masks, and the real guy is the Clark Kent who was very secure, very strong, knew how to drive a tractor and was raised by Ma and Pa Kent. That really struck me and made it more interesting. In the end, I wasn’t that worried about flattening him out emotionally, because I kind of heard Grant’s voice in my head saying, ‘That’s what the real Clark Kent is sort of putting on – he’s putting on Superman as well.’”
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