Whedonopolis had the chance to chat with some of the cast and creators behind Warner Bros new animated release, SUPERMAN: UNBOUND at WonderCon 2013 this weekend. The animated feature is a new take on the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank 2008 release “Superman: Brainiac”, which finds Superman and Supergirl battling the powerful megalomaniac, Brainiac, as he tries to steal Manhattan (no, really!). The stellar voice cast includes Matt Bomer (Superman/Clark Kent), Stana Katic (Lois Lane), Molly Quinn (Supergirl) and John Noble (Brainiac). We were able to catch a few minutes at a roundtable interview with Bomer, Quinn, script writer Bob Goodman and dialogue director Andrea Romano. If you think animated features are just for kids, or that there’s not a lot of hard work, skill and preparation going into the making of them, SUPERMAN: UNBOUND should change your mind!
Matt Bomer is best known for playing Neal Caffrey on USA’s White Collar, but don’t let those good looks fool you: He’s a very talented actor, in front of a camera or a recording booth mic. When asked the first question – one he’s no doubt been asked a lot – on what it felt like to play Superman, he agreed that since he was at least 4 years old it was a lifelong dream to play such an iconic role, but that it also meant a lot of pressure due to big shoes to fill. He just has to think of all the great talent that have played the role in the past and bring his own take to it. It was a particular challenge to have only his voice to use to portray the character; you don’t have a cape and tights – it’s just your voice. (We don’t have any problem with that!). He admits the learning curve was pretty steep but that he thankfully had Andrea to guide him. Whedonopolis commented that since he’d already done the full length audio recording of James Patterson’s “TOYS”, where he voiced all the characters himself, and now has this more corroborative voice project behind him, would he go back to audio books again? He said that he’s been asked before and if time permits, he’d love to, especially if it was a book he loved. He then mused that the most fun on this project was doing all the action sequences: He got way too into it! He was knocking things over in the booth, hitting the mic and physically acting it out. He took it very seriously, because he knows it’s a character lots of people are familiar with and want to see done right, but no one actually told him he didn’t have to really punch Brainiac. He joked to us that he was his own Foley artist, and added a sample of his flying noises. (What we wouldn’t give for video footage of him in that booth!).
He was asked what his contribution to the 70 or so years of people portraying Superman was and he laughed and said it was that he got to voice him in this film. Instead of a special take on it, he just focused on the script at hand. Whedonopolis asked if he’d consider a sequel, to which he simply replied: Hell, yes!! But when we mentioned it would be great to have something to show to the kids, he admitted he’d probably wait until they were about 13 to show them this film!
Watch the entire interview here for even more from Matt.
If you’ve ever watched animation, you’ve probably experienced the work of Andrea Romano and not even realized it. She’s an Emmy Award winning dialogue director and the list of top talent she’s worked with over the 25 years she’s been in the field would stagger you. Working with the fabulous cast of SUPERMAN: UNBOUND, she was able to let us in on some of her thought processes, experiences and what it’s like to do the type of work she does so well. You know she’s the best in her field when she volunteers right off the bat that Joss Whedon is her casting guru!
Whedonopolis wanted to know what made her choose Stana and Molly, and especially Matt. She told us she wanted a slightly younger sound and vulnerability to Superman; there has to be an emotional side that makes sense. That he’ll beat the heck out of whatever villain he has to, but that he’ll also fall in love. He needs to have human emotions to be able to express the loss of his planet and his family, and to take Kara (Supergirl) under his wing to show her how to use her powers in this new world. She then told us that Molly was wonderful because she also has that sort of vulnerability, but also is a teenager with anger and lots of emotions who could kill someone if she isn’t careful. She then recounted when she saw the pilot of Castle and the scene when Castle (Nathan Fillion) is pushing Alexis (Molly) down the hallway as she slides along in her slippers, leaning back into his arms. Nathan said it wasn’t anything they planned, but they decided it was playful and they wanted to establish that kind of relationship. Andrea said she called the folks at Castle up and wanted to know how it was to work with Molly, and they told her to hire her on the spot.
We brought up how in live action filming, the cast and crew can sometimes get caught up emotionally in an actor’s performance when filming, so has she found that she has a stronger bond with the actors she works with since their work is so intimate? She was effusive when she agreed it gets very intimate and that she has these remarkable relationships with these actors after working with them for a few hours because she’s getting into their heads and they’re getting into hers. She sited an example of recording where she found herself actually weeping after a particularly intense scene. Surprisingly, she finds it’s more interesting to watch an actor try and fight tears than cry easily on demand; it’s more dramatic.
Watch the clip for more insider details from Andrea.
You didn’t think movies wrote themselves, did you? Of course not, it’s talented folks like Bob Goodman who create the characters, situations and dialogue that come out of the actors’ mouths, and it’s no exception for animated features. Bob Goodman (Warehouse 13, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) was tapped to script the goodness you see and hear on screen for SUPERMAN: UNBOUND and he gave us insight into the writer’s mind when tackling a legend and a fabulous cast.
He was asked who his favorite character was to write for on this project and he immediately replied Lois. She’s confident, self-realized and knows what she wants. He didn’t give us his favorite line of dialogue but did tell us his favorite moment (unscripted) which came from Lois. Whedonopolis noted that at the time he wrote the part of Lois, he didn’t know Stana would play the part, but she’s everything he described Lois to be. He agreed she’s a great Lois Lane. She has the gumption, spunk and the smarts that Lois has. He comments that since he’s worked on these characters in the past, he tended to have those voice actors in mind when writing this script, but he got past that really fast thanks to this cast who own these characters now. We also commented that since those of us at the table grew up with the classics, it was a very pleasant surprise to hear these new actors, especially John Noble. Bob couldn’t help but agree he was perfect for Brainiac.
When we brought up the different challenges between writing for live action (Warehouse 13) and animation, particularly with traditionally limiting constraints like budget and action scenes, and how he approaches them, he acknowledged that for him writing is writing. Whether it’s live action or animation, his first goal is that these are real characters, that he’s not worried about adaptation or original writing, and he wants to breathe life into them regardless. But he also admitted that there are different demands. You can do something really big in animation, but that there are limitations to that. Ex: Will the work come back from overseas and look good? We asked if there might be a sequel, and he confirmed that the film leaves itself open to one but that the movie stands alone even if not.
Be sure to check out the full clip for even more from Bob.
You know Molly Quinn as the extremely clever and smart daughter, Alexis, on the tv series Castle. But did you know she’s got more than that to offer, including a continually growing career in voice acting? She’s funny, energetic, charming, and there’s no doubt her voicing of Supergirl in SUPERMAN: UNBOUND will ratchet demand for her even higher.
Molly was asked if Nathan Fillion has ever given her any advice, to which she laughed and said no, the one time she asked for any he told her if she wasn’t good enough to be in the business, she wouldn’t be in it! She’s been voicing Bloom from the Winx animated series for 6 seasons, and rattled off a number of other voice-over gigs she’s worked on, including Ben10, where she first met Andrea Romano. When asked about her favorite part of playing Supergirl, she admitted it was mostly the challenge of portraying such an iconic figure: She’s everything that’s good about a teenager, and everything’s that great about a superhero. Whedonopolis couldn’t help but note that Molly wasn’t in cosplay, which is unusual for her at a Con. She noted that although she was currently donning her version of Smallville’s Supergirl (even showing us her red stilettos!) she did have another cosplay for the panel. We also asked her how she approaches dialogue for animation and voice over versus live action and theatre (she has been a special guest at the Thrilling Adventure Hour in Los Angeles a couple of times). Her answer was that in voice overs, she tries to think about her young nieces and young children in general being able to play with toys and objects and it seems real to them; she likes to put herself into that state of imagination. And on the flip side, with live action, she tries to ground her acting with reality. We also wanted to know if she’d do a sequel and she was enthusiastic in her willingness to do so. She was asked if she worked with Stana Katic directly on this film, and she sadly admitted that they never worked together, since they had different schedules. We commented that it seems they didn’t have many scenes together in Castle, either, and she agreed but said that coming up Alexis will be more mature and a sounding board for her father and not as angsty. Asked if she would be any other superhero aside from Supergirl, she regaled us with her story of loving Poison Ivy since she was a girl, and using a Tinkerbell costume as a means of acting out her Poison Ivy cosplay desires when she was younger.
Be sure to watch the full clip for all the high energy tidbits from Molly.
Having seen the film at WonderCon, we can safely say it’s a fun, new adventure of Superman worth a watching by any fan of the superhero genre. Be sure to see it yourself when it’s released on May 7, 2013, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-Ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download.
Many thanks to Matt Bomer, Molly Quinn, Andrea Romano and Bob Goodman for their time with us, to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Comics for the trailers and film images, Helen Yu of Designmaus.com for video editing, and to Gary Miereanu for his usual PR super powers!