TEEN TITANS GO! & DC SUPER HERO GIRLS Interview With Superman Actor Max Mittelman (Exclusive)

Former Jimmy Olsen actor Max Mittelman talks to us about his transformation into Superman for Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, and what it's like to play the Man of Steel...

In Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, Lex Luthor wields an ancient Kryptonian power and unites the world's supervillains to capture the DC Universe's heroes. With only the fan-favourite DC Super Hero Girls left to stop the Legion of Doom, the team must cross dimensions to rescue their fellow superheroes from the Phantom Zone, but a fortuitous wrong turn leads them to Titans Tower...where they find much-needed allies in the iconic Teen Titans! 

That's the premise of this awesome blockbuster event, and we can promise you'll have an absolute riot with this hilarious, action-packed crossover. Ahead of its Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD release tomorrow, we sat down with the Man of Steel himself, Max Mittelman, to learn more about his experiences bringing Superman to life here. The actor had previously played Jimmy Olsen in the DC Animated Universe, though we're sure many of you will also know Max for his work as the One-Punch Man. 

In this interview, he takes us through his transformation into the Man of Tomorrow and explains the hero's motivations in this blockbuster adventure. Max also shares heaps of fascinating insights into playing this version of Kal-El and his hopes to continue doing so in DC Super Hero Girls and beyond.

Whenever we hear from someone fortunate enough to play Superman, it's clear the role has had a major impact on them. In Max's case, it's clear he had a blast putting his own spin on an icon.
 

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I thought it was interesting that you voiced Jimmy Olsen a couple of years before Superman; what’s it been like to go from Superman’s best pal to the Man of Steel himself? 

That’s one of the greatest joys of my career, to be honest with you! I absolutely loved playing Jimmy Olsen. I was over the moon when I got that role. Jimmy is so wide-eyed and full of energy and excitement. To go to Superman who is so grounded and in control…it’s great to play that dichotomy. The most fun part is being able to say, ‘I’ve played Superman…and Superman’s best friend!’ [Laughs] I’m looking at a comic here actually. I bought this comic when I got the role of Jimmy Olsen. There’s another character I play called One-Punch Man, and the conceit of that show is he defeats all his enemies in one punch. I happened to be in a comic store and saw this. I’m not too into comics, but I had to get it. On the cover, it says ‘Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’ and Jimmy is on the cover with a doctor who is listening with a stethoscope to Superman's chest. He’s on the ground with his eyes closed, and the doctor says, ‘There’s no heartbeat! Superman is dead! You killed him, Olsen, with one punch!’ and Olsen goes, ‘No, it can’t be! How could my fist kill Superman?’ I thought it was so funny because it feels like I have so much crossover at this point between Jimmy, Superman One-Punch Man, and all these superheroes. It was really cool to see that. 

You’ve played iconic heroes before like Han Solo, One-Punch Man, and Lion-O, but how does Superman compare given his status as one of the world’s most iconic superheroes? Does it add a sense of pressure in the recording booth?

You know, it’s less pressure and more that my choices are informed by the precedent that was set for that superhero. For the most part, you are doing your spin on whoever that character is. The heart of that character comes from you and has to be totally organic to who are you. It’s not too much pressure. If anything, it’s fun to delve into the lore that’s already there for you to grab and it informs your choices. It’s great that I get to play a wide variety of characters from Lion-O to Han Solo. The other fun thing is, I’m not really doing voice matches. I’m not that great at those, to be honest. I’ve done them, but would rather do my own take on a character. All those characters you mentioned, with the exception of Han Solo as they wanted a voice that resembled the on-camera actor, it’s my own spin. You don’t have to worry about that for the most part because you’re doing your own thing. It’s all fun for me. 

Initially, this isn't the most likeable Superman as he’s pretty condescending towards Supergirl; did that change your approach to the character at all?

[Laughs] I had the director help me out with that because, of course, I have my own idea about who Superman is. Then, you get in the booth, they ask for a couple of takes, and they’ll redirect you if it needs redirection. I do remember in the beginning, I was being true to who I know Superman to be and they said, ‘Actually, for this series, he’s got a bit of an ego.’ There may be moments that feel a little condescending, but in this movie, it’s more about being protective and caring of the girls. That’s where that comes from. It does come off as condescending because his ego is so huge, but I feel like it comes from a good place. 

Of course, as the film develops, so does Superman’s relationship with his cousin; what did you most enjoy about getting to explore that dynamic later in the film? 

I’m fresh from watching the film, and there was one moment, in particular, where they have a heart to heart and that was my favourite moment performance-wise. Watching it back, it was also my favourite moment in the film in general. A lot of times when you’re recording something like this, unlike an on-camera movie where there’s so much time to film it and prepare, think about things, and do your text analysis, when you record cartoons, it’s so much faster. You miss a lot of the subtleties. When you’re recording, you’re in the moment and give it your all and have the subtleties when you’re laying down the lines, but I feel like you have a tendency to move on to the next job and forget what you did. Watching that scene with them was really sweet and tugged at my heartstrings. Because I forget what I do by the time the project is released, I get to enjoy the performance all over again [Laughs]. I was watching the film and didn’t remember any of it! It’s just because of the sheer volume of stuff I’m fortunate to work on, but it was great to watch it with fresh eyes and feel like I was experiencing that all over again. 
 

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Do you find that your approach to voicing Superman changes at all between playing Clark Kent and Superman? 

There’s not a lot of Clark Kent in the film. For DC Super Hero Girls, it’s mostly Superman. Hmm. That’s a good question. I haven’t done a lot of Clark and have mostly done Superman. He is the same person here. As Clark, he tries to hide his identity a little more, but because he’s the same person, in my mind, he thinks the same thoughts. There’s not too much I do differently. If I was Batman in this movie [Laughs], I think Bruce Wayne would talk a lot differently! He has to have some sort of diction as Bruce [Laughs].

In terms of preparing for the role, were there any other actors, whether it be in live-action or animation, who inspired your take on the character here?

I’m so focused on trying to bring myself to the character. Good acting, whether it’s on camera or voice acting, is staying present and living in the moment. I know that could sound very general, but it’s true. I try to live by that, so when the director calls ‘Action!’ and we’re rolling, I’m in my little bubble playing out the scene in my head and not really thinking about the actors who have come before or the pressure I have playing Superman and the people who might be counting on my performance. You can’t really think about that. I try to live in the moment. 

You’ve spent a fair bit of time playing Superman by now, so are you hoping you might be able to continue voicing him in some of the other animated shows and movies we see from DC?

Sure! [Laughs] If someone wants me, I’m there. I would love to play Superman in any kind of project and any universe. That would be a lot of fun. Superman or Jimmy Olsen. The greatest joy of my job is that I know characters like these I won’t be the first to play them and definitely won’t be the last. I expect that. All of this has a timestamp, so I’m enjoying getting to step into those shoes for the time I’m able to. I don’t expect to play any of these characters in the future beyond whatever is on the docket, but I sure as heck would be thrilled to play them again!

This is an action-packed role, but how animated and into that do you get in the recording booth?

It’s not too complicated! For the most part, you give them a library for the main recording sessions and whatever they’ve missed, you’ll loop back around to in a session whenever the animation is done and get it in post. It’s always something to take into consideration when you plan your week of sessions. You definitely don’t want to do that too early on or you lose your voice! 

ALSO READ: Interview With Bumblebee Voice Actor Kimberly Brooks
ALSO READ: Interview With Screenwriter Jase Ricci
ALSO READ: Interview With Aquaman & Lex Luthor Voice Actor Will Friedle
ALSO READ: Interview With Co-Director Matt Peters
ALSO READ: Interview With Cyborg Voice Actor Khary Payton
ALSO READ: Interview With Jessica Cruz Voice Actor Myrna Velasco
ALSO READ: Interview With Supervising Producer James Tucker
ALSO READ: Interview With Legendary Beast Boy Actor Greg Cipes

Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse is available on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD on May 24. The movie event also premieres on Cartoon Network on May 28 and starts streaming on HBO Max beginning June 28!
 

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