INJUSTICE Interview: Brandon Micheal Hall On Joining The DCAU As Cyborg & Getting To Say "Booyah!" (Exclusive)
In our final Injustice interview, actor Brandon Micheal Hall talks to us about getting to join the DC Animated Universe as Cyborg, what the iconic role means to him, and how it feels to say that line...
Injustice is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital, and the movie kicks off with an unthinkable tragedy that propels Superman into a dangerous new mindset, ultimately pitting Justice League members against each other in what we can promise you is a epic battle you won't want to miss.
Based on the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game, this animated adaptation from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment primarily pulls from Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato's critically acclaimed comic book prequels, telling an original story with a lot of iconic moments thrown in for good measure.
Earlier this week, we were given the opportunity for one final Injustice interview, and talk about getting to go out on a high! Brandon Micheal Hall (Search Party, God Friended Me) was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to talk to us about his first voiceover role and bringing Cyborg to life in the DCAU. It's clearly not a role the actor took lightly, as he breaks down what the part meant to him here as well as detailing his future aspirations in both the world of animation and the DC Universe.
Hall also recalls getting to reel off Cyborg's iconic "Booyah!" line in the movie, his experiences in the recording booth, the role the fan-favourite superhero plays in this action-packed adventure, and much more. He even reveals his hopes to play characters like John Stewart and Static Shock in live-action.
What did it mean to you to join the DC Universe as a character as iconic as Cyborg?
Oh man, you just said it: the DC Universe. It’s amazing. That’s for a lack of a better word. It takes your breath away to think about it. When you grow up watching these shows and say, ‘I want to do that. I want to be on TV and do those things.’ Then, someone calls you from your family or someone who has watched the movie messages you on Instagram with, ‘Hey man, you’re doing it! That’s cool.’ Those are the moments you appreciate the most, so what does it mean to me? It means everything to that little 7-year-old kid used to sit down and watch cartoons in the morning. That childhood passion has been reignited, so it feels really good.
We’re seeing so many actors join superhero movies; is that something you always aspired to be part of as a performer and, either way, has this Injustice experience increased your interest?
Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to do animation and still want to do more. I want to continue to work within this universe and do these characters. It’s a lifelong dream of mine and something I really feel I manifested. It’s in my journals to do animation and play a superhero, so it’s been a long time coming. Actually, it happened shorter than I thought it would [Laughs]. I want to continue. I like to do animation and would love to create my own at some point and have that out there. It’s a whole new world I’m interested in exploring.
As an actor and performer, what did you enjoy most about stepping into the recording booth to bring this character to life?
That’s such a good question. I think it was the fact I was in a new space and trying something I had never done before. I think most people do a couple of animations before they get a big animation. This was my first one [Laughs] and it’s Injustice and Cyborg. I wasn’t intimidated by it, but was excited to get into a new space and play. That’s what I looked forward to the most.
How familiar were you with the Injustice comics and video games before being cast and did you find yourself turning to those for inspiration at all?
I’m not as familiar with the comic book stuff, but was very familiar with Teen Titans, the Cyborg Snyder Cut, and I played the game Injustice religiously on my phone and more so now I’m in that world. The inspiration I drew from those was really my own. Anything I had gathered as a kid knowing about Cyborg and that infamous, simple line, ‘Booyah!’ really got me into the role. It’s very simple, but sometimes the things you have to connect with to define a character are. For me, that was my research and my homework.
You get to drop that fan-favourite “Booyah!” line at one point, so how much fun was that for you as an actor in the recording booth?
Oh man, it’s so fun. I think I laughed for a good five minutes when I got to say it back to back to back. It’s such an iconic line. I used to say that line to my cousin when we were growing up. You’d see it when Teen Titans was on and it really brings back that childhood memory inside of me, you know?
I know you’re not in the recording booth with other actors, but how much fun was it to be reeling off these lines in scenes with characters like Batman and Wonder Woman, especially when not many actors can say they’ve shared the screen with those iconic heroes?
[Laughs] What was that like? Even watching the movie, I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, I’m in this world!’ It hits at different times, but I think that’s the main thing. It’s the childhood dream becoming a reality because I’m in this superhero world as this iconic character. You can’t beat that. That feeling will never go away and I can always go back to that film years and years and years after and remember what I got to do and how iconic it was to do it. It still hasn’t settled completely in, but the more I watch it, the more excited I get.
In terms of finding the right voice for this character, what was the experience of working with Wes Gleason and the team like?
Wes gave me so much room to play that it was easy. I remember coming into the booth and I was definitely nervous. I didn’t know what I was doing, but knew I had to get the actions out of this character [Laughs]. I remember Wes being very, very chill saying, ‘Do it this way. Try that again. Pull it back here.’ We’d get the take we needed and I could move on and not stress about the things that were worrying me. That’s just a liberating feeling because you want to work with coaches who know how to coach and he does that very, very well. Hence why we have such a great project.
Ray Fisher and Jovian Wade have both played Cyborg in live-action in recent years; did you find yourself looking at their performances for inspiration at all or was it all about making this iteration of Cyborg your own?
Very much about making Cyborg completely my own. I have no problem with having outside help and going and researching other artists who have done certain roles, especially iconic roles. At a certain point, you have to let it go because their inspiration was probably themselves. For me, I wanted to make Cyborg as much myself as possible.
Cyborg is an iconic character in his own right and role model to a lot of young fans out there; was that something you were conscious of heading into this project?
Oh, yes. I’m still conscious of it. Like I said, I’ve had family members reach out who have seen the movie and they’ve been inspired by it. My little cousins are inspired. I knew that walking in, but once it’s done and you get to see the results, it makes it even better.
Poor Cyborg doesn’t fare too well in that final battle; when you watched the film back, were you shocked by the level of brutality?
Nah, when they told me it was Rated R, I was like, ‘Okay, I get it. I’m ready for it.’ Also, ‘Yes, let’s do it. Let’s take it there. Why not?’ I was ready for it and excited.
I know actors working on these animated movies often get the chance to lend their voices to other, minor characters - was that the case for you or was it just Cyborg you were focused on?
I think I did a military guy. There were two other roles I got to play and stretch out my voice to play those other characters. I can’t remember specifically what they were. Maybe a colonel? I can’t remember, but I did get to play two other characters. I was so invested in playing Cyborg and being there for the first time, I forget, but I did get to play some more.
Why do you think Cyborg chooses to align himself with Superman, especially when he starts going down some quite extreme routes?
Because he has a big heart like Superman. Cyborg is very much based in his morals and ethics and everyone is tested throughout the course of the movie. I believe that’s why he stays on Superman’s path because the ending of what Superman is talking about is true. They can protect and do more. He believes he can do that alongside them.
Batman’s betrayal of Cyborg seems to really shake him to his core as it shows Bruce always potentially planned on turning on him; what was your reaction to reading that?
It’s huge. And a huge moment because it’s a character arc and a character turn. Without having to give too much of Cyborg, you get a moment of seeing him vulnerable. Those moments are always great to bring to screen because it makes the characters human.
Looking to the future, are there any other superhero characters you’d like to play whether it’s in animation or perhaps live-action?
Static Shock. I would love to play Static Shock. Definitely. Green Lantern too because even though I’d love to play Static Shock, I think I’m getting a little too old to play him. We all know there’s a Black Green Lantern and I think it’s time to bring him to the forefront. He was amazing in that Justice League series that came out, so I’d love to play him as well.
As you mentioned, this was your first voiceover project, but looking ahead, do you have any other dream roles whether it’s video games, Marvel, or Disney?
[Laughs] All of the above! All of it. I want to explore all of it. Being in that booth and creating characters just using your voice is so much fun. I want to work with Seth MacFarlane on one of his projects; I want to do something with Donald Glover because I know he’s working on animation. I’d love to do video games with Activision or Occulus because I play all of them and when you finally get a taste of it, you know what you can do better. I want to keep exploring and trying new things out, so definitely. It’s not even that I want to, it’s that I need to. It’s so much fun.
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