Friedle Looking Back On Batman Beyond
Will Friedle took a futuristic Dark Knight in altogether
new directions as the voice of Terry McGinnis in Warner Bros.
Animation’s breakthrough 1999 series Batman Beyond.
was an education."
popular voiceover actor took time last week to speak about
his days as the new Caped Crusader in preparation for the
Tuesday, November 23 release of Batman
Beyond: The Complete Series, a nine-disc limited edition
DVD set that presents nearly 20 hours of animated action
spread over 52 episodes, as well as including all-new bonus
featurettes and a 24-page, 8”x 12” collectible
Beyond: The Complete Series centers on Terry McGinnis, an
ordinary teenager ... until his father is mysteriously murdered.
Suspecting foul play at his father's company, Wayne/Powers
Corporation, Terry meets Bruce Wayne and learns of a secret
identity hidden for decades. Now too old to don the cape
and cowl as Batman, Wayne refuses to help – so Terry
does what any brash young kid would do: steal the Bat-suit
and take matters into his own hands! Vowing to avenge his
father's death, Terry dons the high-tech suit tricked out
with jetpacks, a supersensitive microphone and even camouflage
capabilities in search of his father's assassin.
all-star production team was headed by executive producer
Jean MacCurdy and producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen
Murakami and Paul Dini. Writers on the series included Burnett
and Dini, as well as Stan Berkowitz, Bob Goodman, Rich Fogel,
Hilary Bader and John McCann.
made his mark in live-action television and film from the
time he turned 10, starring in hit series like Boy Meets
World and Don’t Just Sit There. He gradually shifted
his attention to voiceover work, taking the lead in Batman
Beyond and co-starring in Disney’s Kim Possible to
name but a few. Today, he primarily stays behind the microphone,
voicing such notable roles as Doyle on The Secret Saturdays
and Blue Beetle on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
MIEREANU: When you think back on all those
Batman Beyond sessions, what are your favorite memories
of recording the series?
FRIEDLE: This sounds like a cheesy answer, but
working with Andrea (Romano) is just the greatest experience.
Every week you go in and it’s amazing and fun. You
just never knew who the guest cast would be.
was recording Return of the Joker. Sitting between
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill for five days was pretty incredible.
I learned more about being a voiceover actor in those five
days than I did in the five months before that. Just watching
the two of them work – how Mark got so into the character,
completely losing himself in that role. And then there’s
Kevin with that deep, booming voice, always sitting with
his back straight and working perfectly with the microphone.
It was an education.
MIEREANU: Do you have a favorite Batman
FRIEDLE: There was an episode called “Out
of the Past” where it’s Bruce Wayne’s
birthday and as a birthday present Terry takes Bruce to
see a new play, “Batman: The Musical.” So there’s
Bruce sitting in the audience, watching these people in
costume jumping on stage, singing about the Dark Knight,
and Terry’s right behind him humming the songs. And
Bruce just hates it. Seeing Bruce Wayne watching “Batman:
The Musical” was pretty funny.
MIEREANU: Were you a fan of Batman: The
Animated Series before you were cast for Batman Beyond?
didn't want to miss an episode."
FRIEDLE: I have been an animation fan my whole
life. Love cartoons, always have. But I thought Batman:
The Animated Series changed the whole ballgame. Every
generation thinks they grew up with the best cartoons –
I had Thundercats and Transformers, shows
like that. Very bright, and the acting was very big.
then Batman came out and there was nothing cartoony
about it. The acting was very real and the overall feel
of the show was dark. It was like nothing you’d seen
before, and I was a huge fan of the show. This was pre-Tivo,
so this was one of those shows where you had to see it every
day. You didn’t want to miss an episode. So when I
got a call to be the voice of a new Batman, and the series
was being made with the entire team that did Batman:
The Animated Series, well, that was huge.
MIEREANU: You spent a lot of time with
Kevin Conroy over the course of the series. What was that
experience like for you?
FRIEDLE: First of all, Kevin is a classically trained
actor. He’s very professional. I’ve had the
good fortune of working with several characters like that,
but I’d never done an animated series before, and
I was kind of slumped in my chair saying my lines. And Kevin
started giving me tips. Simple things, but things that really
make a difference.
example, he had me sit up straight, and showed me how that
helps open your diaphragm naturally. Little things you look
for in an actor of his caliber like the right ways to play
to the page, the right ways to not pop your P’s. He
was nice enough to take me under his wing and teach me,
and I’ll never forget him for that.
MIEREANU: What set Batman Beyond apart?
FRIEDLE: To me, it always goes back to the writing.
Batman Beyond was so strong that you couldn’t
wait to get the script for the next week. The character
development was outstanding – from the new villains
they’d invent to the way they brought back the old
villains. And the way they treated Terry and Bruce, and
their relationship. The casting was phenomenal, but even
the greatest actors can’t make bad writing good –
so it all comes down to what was on the page, and that’s
where Batman Beyond became a great show.
character development was outstanding..."
MIEREANU: How important are super heroes
FRIEDLE: I love super heroes, and Batman was always
my favorite. I was never a huge Superman fan. I like the
idea that Batman was just a man. He doesn’t have super
powers. As you’re reading comics or watching animated
series, I think you normally gravitate toward one or the
other. But for me, it came down to this: Superman had to
come from another planet to save us. Batman said “Look
what we can do for ourselves – with our heart and
mind and soul, we can save each other.”
MIEREANU: Why are super heroes important
FRIEDLE: I love to read. I’m a voracious
reader. I think the super hero genre is really our modern
day Greek mythology, These are our gods; this is Homer writing
the Iliad. We’ve got super heroes; they had gods.
From a literary standpoint, this is the next generation
of mythology. From a fan standpoint, with authors like Robert
Jordan and Brandon Sanderson and even the Harry Potter series,
a great fantasy book just takes you away. You can disappear
into an entire world where you can forget what is going
on in your world.
kids, I think it teaches a sense of right and wrong. For
the most part, these stories are tales of good vs. evil.
That’s important for kids – to see what is good
and bad, and how it can be fought without violence. And
just for the fun of it all, who doesn’t want to get
lost in a great book or series?
MIEREANU: So now you’re back in
the super hero realm – and Batman’s universe
– on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. How do you like
your role as Blue Beetle?
FRIEDLE: Blue Beetle is a ton of fun to play. I
wasn’t totally familiar with the character, but I
studied up for the role quickly. It’s been tricky
because we wanted to make sure that we played to Jaime Reyes’
heritage – as he is the first real Latino super hero
– but we didn’t want to do a cartoony Latino
voice. But at the same time, you also have to make him Hispanic.
So there was more riding on this role.
could be created in any way, shape or form. Jaime had already
been established. It’s not a heavy character, but
there’s more of a history. So to step into a world
that’s already established was more difficult than
creating a character from the beginning.
MIEREANU: You’ve been solely focused
on voiceover roles for several years. Are you no longer
interested in on-camera acting?
coolest things was telling my nephews I was Batman..."
FRIEDLE: I retired from on-camera work at 30. Plain
and simple. I started acting on camera when I was 10, so
it had been 20 years. I really enjoyed it, but the on-camera
side of the industry isn’t as fun anymore –
it’s definitely not the same as when I started.
now more established in the voiceover world, and I get to
do it in a far more fun, more fulfilling way. I think I
went out on a high note. I was still doing films and television
series and I thought I’d rather walk away when it
was my choice. I know you’re never supposed to say
never, but I can pretty much say never to on-camera again.
MIEREANU: What’s the best thing
about playing a super hero?
FRIEDLE: At the time we were doing Batman Beyond,
I thought the coolest thing was telling my nephews I was
Batman and not being lying to them. One time, my oldest
nephew Huck came out from Brooklyn. He pulled me aside and
said “Look uncle Will, I want you to know I’m
six now. I think I’m old enough to see the Batcave.”
He actually thought I was Batman, which is very cool. It
can’t get much better for an uncle.