Voices Shall Escape Her Sight
Andrea Romano on Casting Green Lantern:
Andrea Romano knows how to pick ‘em.
the best...and very, very nice, too.
Green Lantern: First Flight, Romano – arguably the
best known casting/dialogue director on the animation scene
for more than 25 years – has brought together a pair
of voiceover novices in the lead roles, along with assorted
veterans of feature film and primetime television, including
an 82-year-old character actor whose screen appearances
date back to Mighty Joe Young.
usual, the mix works perfectly.
Lantern: First Flight is the fifth DC Universe animated
original film in the ongoing series, and Romano has been
the voice behind the voices in each successful instance.
This particular production was a bi-coastal affair, starting
with a New York recording in late June 2008 of Christopher
Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Victor
Garber (Milk, Titanic) as hero Hal Jordan and villain Sinestro,
respectively. Neither Meloni nor Garber had ever recorded
for animation, nor had they worked together, and yet Romano
had the two actors perform their lines opposite each other
in the same studio – which added a new degree of difficulty
for both director and actors.
in Burbank, Romano selected Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
and animation rookie Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) to
complete the primary quartet of voices. The remainder of
the cast did their voice work at the Warner Bros. Ranch,
as well, and that crowd included Juliet Landau (Buffy the
Vampire Slayer), John Larroquette (Night Court), Kurtwood
Smith (That ‘70s Show), Larry Drake (Darkman), William
Schallert (The Patty Duke Show), Olivia d’Abo (The
Wonder Years), David Lander (Laverne & Shirley) and
veteran voice actor Rob Paulsen.
has been one of the driving forces in animation voiceovers
for more than a quarter century, her credit list reading
like the honor roll for the Saturday morning cartoon Hall
of Fame. From dramatic (Batman: The Animated Series) to
silly (Animaniacs), contemporary (The Boondocks) to timeless
(Smurfs), Romano has set the standard for matching actor
to character with absolute savvy. Along the way, she has
become a household name to legions of animation fans.
National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has listed
her name 20 times among their annual nominations, Romano
taking home six of those Emmy Awards – and promptly
attiring those statuettes in Barbie clothes. It’s
a Romano tradition.
between recordings for new DC Universe films and her weekly
chores at the helm of sessions for Batman: The Brave and
the Bold, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Boondocks, Romano
found a few moments to discuss the casting and performances
of the voices within Green Lantern: First Flight. Fortunately,
she speaks very quickly …
Lantern or Ben 10?
Gary Miereanu: Did Christopher
Meloni’s rave reviews as a detective on Law &
Order: SVU lead you to casting him as the ultimate space
cop, Hal Jordan?
ROMANO: Given the age range and the character type,
and the fact that he is a very good actor, I thought Christopher
Meloni would be the right voice. His voice has a nice strength
and honesty to it, and his acting is really wonderful.
is a role that requires the character to come off as very
smart, but he also gets duped when he probably should’ve
have seen it coming. That’s a tough tightrope to walk,
but I found Christopher so incredibly believable. Every
note in his acting was true, and real, and organic, and
believable. He had not done much voiceover, if any, but
he learned so fast that he sprang forth fully formed. He
had it down. I don't think he ever had a technical problem.
Miereanu: From Broadway to primetime to
major motion pictures like Titanic and Milk, Victor Garber
has quite the resume. What made him right for Sinestro,
and how did you talk him into doing his first voiceover
ROMANO: I have known Victor Garber's work since
Godspell, and there have been several connections
over the years. Carl Lumbly played J’onn J’onzz
for us on Justice
League while he was doing Alias
with Victor Garber, and I tried many times to hire Victor
to do an episode with Carl as a fun crossover – but
he was never available. I had met Victor a few times and
I met him again at Diedrich Bader's surprise birthday party.
We spoke about him coming to work for me again, and this
time his schedule worked out.
needed to be elegant. There are many, many different Green
Lanterns – some females, some male, some alien, some
looking more human. They’re all different. This particular
Green Lantern – Sinestro – is a bad guy. But
we, as audience members, are not supposed to know that he’s
a bad guy in this particular film. So I needed someone who
could seem egotistical and strong, but not tip us off that
he’s got an ulterior motive all the way through the
shall be fair, and all her people one...
hit every note perfectly. There was a musicality to his
delivery. You don’t even have to tell someone like
Victor Garber to do that – he just naturally finds
the vocal music and brings it to the character.
Miereanu: Were you at all worried about
casting two actors who had not done voiceovers for animation,
and having them record together?
ROMANO: You would have thought they had worked
together for years and years. They play well together, and
it was a dream for me. When you're a casting director, you
never really know how it's going to work out until you're
in the room doing the gig. This was one of those instances
where I thought, “I know what the heck I'm doing!”
I actually cast exactly the two right actors – they
were perfect for the roles. They knew exactly what they
needed to do and they did it. And they had fun in the process.
this nice combination of Victor Garber playing this sort
of duplicitous, sophisticated, elegant, eloquent guy and
Christopher Meloni playing this kind of not necessarily
blue collar, but much more down to earth, real guy that
your everyman can relate to. Putting them together and having
them play off each other was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
in that recording session and smiled. They needed me fix
and finesse a few things here and there, and explain certain
bits of action. But as far as the acting beats, I didn’t
have to tell them one thing. For the most part, I just got
out of their way – because they knew exactly what
they were doing.
Miereanu: Michael Madsen is another voiceover
novice, but that voice is made for character animation.
What prompted you to cast him as Kilowog?
ROMANO: Kilowog is an alien Green Lantern, and
we really wanted a voice with texture and character and
some edges to it; a voice that sounded gruff and big and
strong, but also smart. I did not want someone who sounded
like a big dopey guy. For years and years, I wanted to hire
Michael Madsen and this was just the perfect marriage of
role, actor and availability.
just want to hear him call me a Poozer.
a lot about availability, and Michael is a great example.
He hadn’t done any animated roles before Green Lantern,
and yet when I finally got him in the room, we found out
how much he had wanted to do it and, now, how much he loves
doing voiceover work. He loves this whole world of animation,
and characters like Batman and Superman.
need an actor who has an enthusiasm for the project, for
the role, and for the process – and Michael was there,
in the moment, he understood, and wanted to do more takes
than we needed. That is very generous and brought some really
beautiful texture. I love those raspy, deep, dark voices
– that sound that tells you that there’s been
some life experience there, whether it’s been smoking
cigarettes or drinking booze or just living. I don’t
think I’m the only person that responds to that kind
of voice with character. That’s a voice that's lived.
Miereanu: You cast Virginia Madsen in
Wonder Woman and her brother Michael Madsen in Green Lantern:
First Flight. When was the last time you cast siblings in
ROMANO: Never. Never ever. But that was so cool
having both Madsens in consecutive films. Though not being
able to hire siblings hasn’t been for a lack of trying.
I was seated next to Tyne Daly once and we got to talking
and I asked “Do you want to do voiceovers?”
And she said, “I’d love to do it – my
brother (Tim Daly) does it.” And I said, “I
know, he’s my Superman!”
tried for years to find the right role for her, but there
are not that many significant roles for women. Wonder
Woman was the only one that really had nice, big, beautiful
parts for women. But I'll find something for Tyne –
I love her work.
Miereanu: And how was the final member
of your lead quartet, Tricia Helfer as Boodikka?
ROMANO: We really needed Boodikka to be smart,
sexy and strong. Tricia Helfer was interested and available
and we were lucky to get her. She is such a very nice person,
and such a good actress – especially for this kind
of piece. She really understands it. She’s big in
the Sci-Fi world, and she gets it.
plays this character so that you never know what twists
are coming. You think it’s very straightforward and
then something happens and you’re surprised because
she never tips it off ahead of time. She was spot on with
her performance and I loved working with her. She was just
who else is excited as heck to see this thing? Keep checking
back in with us at Fanboy Planet for updates! Green Lantern:
First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie,
is set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video.
more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s
official website at www.greenlanternmovie.com.
LANTERN © Warner Bros. Ent Inc. "GREEN LANTERN"
and all related characters and elements are trademarks of
and © DC Comics. © Warner Bros. Entertainment
Inc. All Rights Reserved.