JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II Interview: Matt Bomer On Playing The Flash, How It Compares To Superman, & More

Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol) talks to us about playing Barry Allen in Justice Society: World War II, how that compares to Superman, getting physical in the recording booth, and his Scarlet Speedster future...

Justice Society: World War II arrives on streaming platforms on April 27th, 2021, and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray on May 11th, 2021. This next entry in the DC Animated Universe sees The Flash thrust into the midst of an epic battle between Golden Age DC Super Heroes the Justice Society and Nazis for an adventure which definitely doesn't play out the way you might be expecting. 

Picking up with Barry Allen in the present day, prior to the formation of the Justice League, the Scarlet Speedster discovers he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. Arriving in World War II, he finds himself teaming up with a Golden Age team (Wonder Woman, Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor, and Jay Garrick).

Earlier this month, we were lucky enough to speak to star Matt Bomer about taking on the role of Barry Allen/The Flash. Having previously voiced the Man of Steel in 2013's Superman: Unbound, the actor is no stranger to the DC Animated Universe, and puts an incredible spin on the Fastest Man Alive. 

We've already brought you some excerpts about season three of Doom Patrol and Matt's live-action superhero aspirations, but here, he talks us through bringing the character to life on screen, getting physical in the recording booth, and possibly reprising the role of The Flash in the near future. 
 

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The Flash is such a different character to Superman, but as an actor, did you find any common ground in terms of how you portrayed them both? 

Yeah, there’s such a rich iconography in regards to both of these characters. They were formative for me in my childhood, so I’ve had a lot of attachments over the years to both of them. I think one of the things you have to do on a project like this is trust your directors and your producers and their vision for what this particular story is about. I take all the iconography I’ve come to know and love about what they represent and who they are, but I feel like what Superman and Barry represents are different. The rhythms and way they speak are different, and I think Barry’s sense of humour is very different to Clark’s (or Kal-El...however you’d like to refer to him), so I think it’s fun to get to differentiate actually and to really focus in on which version of Barry Allen we were trying to bring out in this particular story. 

The Flash has God-like powers, but when he’s talking to Iris and screwing things up, he’s really as human as the rest of us; was it important to you to be able to explore both sides of Barry here? 

I think that’s a testament to the arc of the character in the film. He’s like so many of us, and in many ways, it hit home during the pandemic for me. At the beginning of the film, Barry is really scattered; his mind is in a million places, he’s trying to do five different things at once, and he can’t be present with Iris in their relationship. It’s only by his encounter with the Justice Society that he’s able to appreciate the present moment. I can only imagine how challenging that is for someone who can move and think as fast as he does. I found echoes of that in my own life, you know? If you’re fortunate to work as an actor, there are times where you’re rushing from set to set to interview to press conference or whatever it may be, and if there were to be a silver lining I could put on to everything that’s transpired over the past year, it’s that I’ve really gotten to take a breath and be present with my family and not have my mind in a million places. I found over the course of the pandemic that I related more to Barry’s journey than when I even recorded my lines for a film the year before [Laughs].

It’s been a while since you’ve been part of one of these animated films as Superman: Unbound was released in 2013; what was it about The Flash that made you want to return to this world?

I love his sense of humour and his fortitude, and his fallibility and his humanness, particularly in this script. I thought it was interesting, even though he does have these powers, he’s really thrust into some really unimaginable circumstances [Laughs]. It’s only by his sense of humour and that fortitude that he’s able to not only survive given the circumstances, but thrive in them ultimately. I think there are so many great aspects of Superman that are fun to play, but for me, one of the things I enjoy most about Barry is his sense of humour. 
 

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The Flash finds himself thrust into this crazy World War II setting, but what did you enjoy most about exploring that through your performance? 

He’s a total fish out of water interloper. I can’t imagine waking up and [Laughs] suddenly finding yourself thrust into that experience. Just finding a way to navigate that and the relationships and getting his feet under him, and dealing with the way his powers have been affected and influenced. Discovering those moments were some of the most fun moments of recording this. 

The Flash sees a lot of action here and his powers are portrayed in some really brilliant ways, but when you’re in that voice booth, how difficult is it to get that physicality across in your performance? Are you going in blind, or do you have storyboards to work off? 

No, you really don’t have much to go on. I think I got a rough sense of what the animation style was going to look like, but you’re really relying on, in this instance, Wes Gleeson, our voice director, and Butch Lukic, the movie’s supervising director. They really get everyone on the same page for a film like this one. One of my favourite things about working on these is the physical aspect of the characters [Laughs] because I’m not someone who’s very good at faking physical exertion. So, typically, I’ll save all my fight and exertion scenes for the end so I don’t lose my voice. I leave the booth sweaty, red-faced, exhausted, and hoarse, because I’m running all around, jumping and kicking things, throwing punches and getting hit in the stomach and face. You have to tap into the most childlike aspect of yourself; the kid who used to have fun doing action scenes in your backyard, and give up caring what other people think of you and how ridiculous you must look. I try not to knock over too much equipment because I probably can’t afford to replace it...

This movie feels like an opening chapter for The Flash’s story as he learns more about his powers and working in a team; would you like to reprise the role or is there perhaps another DC hero you’d want to voice next? 

Hmm...well, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, but yeah, I would love to keep playing this role. I find his rhythms are so fun and unique. I remember when we were finding it in the booth initially, Wes just kept saying, ‘More caffeinated, more caffeinated!’ We found this character together and his pattern of talking and sense of humour, so I would love to keep playing Barry. I’ve been so fortunate that these really varied roles have come my way through DC. Between Superman, the Flash, and Negative Man, these are three such different, unique characters, so I hope that trend continues. Hopefully, I’ll get to keep doing these varied roles for them. 

The scale of this movie is every bit as huge as any superhero blockbuster; what’s it like for you after recording your lines to now see the finished product and these huge moments with The Flash, in particular?

It’s always incredibly satisfying. It was made extra special this time because one of our kids is a huge DC fan, so getting to sit down and watch it for the first time with him was something I’ll never forget. Also, I was just blown away by the animation. I think the animation style in this film is so beautiful and unique. Particularly everything from the propaganda-esque films they have in it to the credit sequence which I thought was so noir-ish and great. There is a specific patina to the different time period that’s really unique to the film. I always love seeing the action sequences come together, and it’s something they do such a great job of on these films. It’s always fun to get to see for the first time. 

Also Read: JSA: WWII Director Jeff Wamester Explains His Fresh Take On The Golden Age Team
 

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