DiMaggio Goes on a Joker Bender...
Voicing The Joker in Batman: Under the
just wanted to honor the real true lunacy of the
Known to adults as “Bender” in Futurama and
tweens as “Dr. Drakken” in Kim Possible, John
DiMaggio takes an iconic step forward as the voice of The
Joker, the pivotal villain in the all-new DC Universe animated
original movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood.
the film, Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious
Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante,
one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham
with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the
same ethical code. And when The Joker falls in the balance
between the two forces of justice, hard truths are revealed
and old wounds are reopened.
gets free reign to play the iconic villain amidst a stellar
voice cast that includes Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) as
the Caped Crusader, Supernatural star Jensen Ackles as Red
Hood, and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother --
and come on, you know who he is!) as Nightwing.
known for his near-100 episodes as “Bender,”
DiMaggio has parlayed his deep, gravelly tones and versatile
acting style into a major force on the voiceover scene for
the past decade. DiMaggio’s credits include roles
in Kim Possible, Samurai Jack, Teen Titans, Batman: The
Brave and the Bold (he's the outrageous Aquaman),
The Spectacular Spider-Man, Duck Dodgers, Jackie Chan Adventures,
The Penguins of Madagascar and Chowder.
has so dominated his time that DiMaggio has virtually abandoned
his on-camera career – despite past work as a regular
cast member on Chicago Hope and a number of guest roles
in TV series such as Becker, N.Y.P.D. Blue, Felicity, Bones,
Without a Trace and My Name is Earl.
Under the Red Hood is the next entry in the popular ongoing
series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies from
Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation.
The full-length film will be distributed by Warner Home
Video on July 27, 2010 as a Special Edition version on Blu-Ray™
and 2-disc DVD, as well as being available on single disc
DVD, On Demand and for Download.
before you race to Amazon to pre-order your copy, take a
minute to get to know John DiMaggio.
MIEREANU: What were your initial thoughts
about assuming this iconic role?
DIMAGGIO: I was shocked when I got the role, shocked
when I came in to record, and shocked when I saw the finished
product during ADR. I just wanted to honor the real true
lunacy of the character. I didn’t want to make him
campy, but I wanted to pay a little bit of tribute to the
past Jokers – and yet keep it original at the same
time. That’s walking a fine line, if there ever was
a little intimidating because it is such an iconic role.
It’s an honor to get this job -- and especially to
play the Joker in this version because it’s so dark
and twisted. I felt like I got a really wonderful opportunity.
MIEREANU:Can you remember your early
connections with the Batman mythology, and how any of the
previous Joker actors might have influenced your performance
in this role?
DIMAGGIO: I think the thing that influenced me
the most when I was young is the television show, which
is really sad because there have been so many great comics
and graphic novels and stories about the Dark Knight that
I haven’t been able to delve into yet – and
yet I know about them.
would’ve loved to see Cesar Romero take the role to
its darkness. There was a bit of Cesar Romero in what I
did, but it’s Cesar Romero if he was in A Clockwork
I guess my naiveté in my approach kind of kept it
clean. I wasn’t trying to do a Jack (Nicholson)
or a Heath (Ledger). I respect all the folks that
have come before me, and their take on the character. Mark
Hamill is awesome, Heath Ledger was unbelievable, and Jack
Nicholson – what can you say? But I wanted to do my
MIEREANU:Was there any particular direction
you wanted to take this Joker?
actually would've loved to see Cesar Romero take
the role to its darkness."
DIMAGGIO: I wanted to cover what I saw on the paper,
and I wanted to ensure Andrea (Romano, casting/dialogue
director) got exactly what she wanted. Usually if the
script is good enough, you know where your emotions should
be, where your character lies. It should all be in the dialogue,
and it certainly was.
MIEREANU:How do you interpret the Joker’s
DIMAGGIO: I think the Joker thinks of himself,
quite literally, as a necessary evil. And when I say that,
I mean he really feels there is a place for him, and that
he somehow balances the chaos with the non-chaos. It’s
a yin and yang thing. And it’s really not personal,
it’s business. Although he can get personal and he
enjoys it. That makes it that much more twisted.
MIEREANU:You’ve certainly done
more than your share of villains. Do you prefer to go to
the dark side?
DIMAGGIO: I love playing the villains. I’ll
play anything, I don’t care. As long as its not tons
of walla (filling silence with random noises) or
gasping, I’m good. I hate the inhale.
MIEREANU:When you were a kid, did you
ever imagine you’d be voicing cartoons for a living?
Joker thinks of himself, quite literally, as a necessary
DIMAGGIO: I was a class clown – I basically
started acting when I was a kid. I wanted to play drums,
but I couldn’t afford a drum set. It was easier to
be in a play, so it just kind of happened.
into voiceover in New York in 1994. I was doing stand-up
(comedy) at the time, and was looking to get out of it and
into acting. An actor buddy of mine, Zak Orth, said it was
a way to make a good living between acting gigs. I moved
to LA, because there’s more animation here, and the
rest is history. So yeah, thanks Zak – give me a ring.
primary focus is voiceovers these days. Do you have any
inclination to do more live-action acting or stand-up comedy?
DIMAGGIO: On-camera acting is fun, but I don’t
miss it. Voiceovers are quicker, and you get to work with
such amazing, talented people – it’s a blast
to play in the studio with these actors and writers and
directors. With (on-camera) acting, there so much
more waiting around, and my patience has run thin. Plus
it beats the hell out of slinging jokes six nights a week
at a Chuckle Hut in East Bumbleblard.