On May 3, Warner Bros. Animation will release DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery, a new collection of short films that also includes Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, Blue Beetle, and The Losers. Produced by Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legends, Injustice), these shorts boast an incredible array of talent both in terms of the creatives and phenomenal A-List cast members.
Matt Lanter may be most familiar to many of you for his incredible work bringing Anakin Skywalker to life in The Clone Wars, but he's also appeared in front of the camera in shows like 90210, Jupiter's Legacy, and The Mandalorian. This week, we were fortunate enough to catch up with the actor to discuss his approach to playing Blue Beetle in one of DC Animation's weirdest, most wonderful shorts.
Taking inspiration from the cartoons of yesteryear, this story follows Ted Kord on a wacky team-up with The Question, and for Lanter, that involved some "bad" acting. In this interview, he explains his approach to playing this iteration of Blue Beetle and shares some insights into his performance inside the recording booth. We also get to hear what about this character appealed most to him as an actor.
Oh, and Star Wars fans, we have you covered. For Matt's thoughts on what Hayden Christensen recently said about The Clone Wars, click here. You can also learn more about him potentially returning to this Galaxy Far, Far Away as the Anakin beneath Darth Vader's helmet by clicking here.
What was your reaction to learning that not only did DC want you to play Blue Beetle, but a version of the character who feels like he's stepped out of something like the Spider-Man cartoon from the 60s?
Well, my first reaction when DC wants me to do anything is jumping for joy. It’s just a blast to be part of such a well-known superhero universe. It’s something that everybody loves. The DC Animation team have a long history of quality animation, and then, in this case, it’s quality animation that’s made to look back on purpose which I love [Laughs]. To get in there and find this sort of tone that we’re doing, it’s a departure from what they’ve been doing. It’s fun and unique and there to make people laugh. I love being part of that and it gave me an excuse to exercise the witty creativity of being just a bad voice actor [Laughs].
I thought your performance was fantastic and so well-suited to this film, but was there a lot of preparation in terms of how you needed to approach this role, or were you already familiar with the sort of cartoons this short borrows so heavily from?
Truthfully, there wasn’t a whole lot of prep. I just understood pretty quickly the tone that we were going for. After hopping on the line and having a discussion with everyone, it was a case of getting on the same page and I think we got there rather quickly as far as what they going for. I used to watch the old Batman series and I’m very familiar with it. You know, that kind of cheesy style. So, I got on their page fast and once that happened, we ran with it. I think we all knew we were getting good stuff when we laughed and we used that to gauge whether we could move on to the next one or not. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s fun, and I think people love that.
You've previously been part of the DC Universe as Aquaman, but aside from the unique tone of this short, how did your approach to playing a superhero change with a guy like Blue Beetle? They couldn’t be any more different.
We approached this with that 1960s campy style, but in the 1960s campy style, everything is said with bravado and heroism! I mean, everything. There’s really no room for ‘good voice acting’ because everything is said with bravado and a puffed-out chest. That really made it fun.
You've had plenty of voice acting experience at this point, but I'm curious how animated you get in the recording booth, whether it be for action scenes or just the sort of silliness a short like this one lends itself to?
A little bit. Obviously, there’s a technique to voice acting and, technically, you don’t want to get off the mic too much because you want to stay in the same position. I definitely move around a good bit. It gives energy to my performance and I always stand. Certainly, for Blue Beetle, I mentioned that every line is delivered with a puffed-out chest, so it helps me to put my hands on my hips or cross my arms to give that big statement of, ‘What are we going to do now?’ [Laughs] So it certainly helps to take on that physical bravado as well in the booth.
Ted Kord is a beloved, but underused and underrated character, so having spent some time in his shoes, what about him really drew you in as an actor?
To be truthful, I don’t know that much about Blue Beetle. I know he’s appeared here and there and we’ve got different versions. This is Ted Kord, and having played him, it’s definitely a different type of personality. I haven’t seen all the different versions or read through all the comics necessarily, but I’m assuming they’re not all written in this funny, campy 60s way [Laughs]. It was really a character of its own, but it was a blast. If I had the opportunity to play this character in this style more, that would be…I would love that. We just had so much for with it. I’m just so excited about that prospect, but yeah, it’s a good time.
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DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery arrives on Digital & Blu-ray on May 3.