Bold and Bader
A chat with the new animated Batman, Diedrich
After years of making Batman safe for adults to love,
Warner had a problem. The Dark Knight was just too darned
frightening for children. Enter Cartoon Network, which has
solved the problem by creating a series for kids based on
one of DC's most thrilling - and often silliest - titles:
The Brave and the Bold.
this weekend, the series aims to capture the slightly loony
feel of classic Batman artist Dick Sprang, while exposing
us all to the wider DC Universe. It's a place where anything
can happen, Batman can go anywhere, and all the while we
can still feel relatively safe. At last, you can sit on
the couch with your kids and enjoy Batman together.
But of course,
to do this, you need an anchor. An actor that can run the
gamut from icy gruff to paternal to exasperated while still
remaining recognizably Batman. Maybe you'd be surprised
to find that Voice Director Andrea Romano turned to comic
actor Diedrich Bader, who just finished a run at the Mark
Taper Forum in the stage play, "The House of Blue Leaves."
you wouldn't be surprised if you'd heard him do the voice.
We got that chance at Comic-Con this past summer, and sat
down with Diedrich, perhaps best known for his role on The
Drew Carey Show. He was as friendly and open as he seems
to be in his TV role, and quickly proved that he's doing
Batman for all the right reasons.
McCaw: This is not the first time you've voiced
in the animated DC Universe. You did The Zeta Project, didn't
Diedrich Bader: I was the voice
on The Zeta Project, and I also did a couple of bad
guys - geez, I can't even remember now - on The Batman.
So this was not the first time that I've gotten around the
Batman universe, which is very cool.
But you know when I watched it, when Andrea
Romano sent me the DVD of The Batmans that I did,
I realized that I couldn't show them to my kids.
McCaw: So what was supposed to be for kids
originally evolved into something too intense…
Diedrich Bader: Yeah, it was just
a little too much, a little too intense. We always pre-screen
everything for our kids, and I think it was just too much
for them. So I really wanted for a show, not necessarily
for me to be in it, where it was Batman, because he's such
a great character and so iconic in the American lore, that
my son could watch. My kids could watch. We could all watch
Andrea called me about this, I was really truly pumped.
It's kind of a throwback to the original sort of feel of
McCaw: I have a son about your son's age, too,
and when I heard about this show, I thought, "oh, good…one
we'd feel safe watching it."
Diedrich Bader: Oh, believe me,
in all the scripts I've read for it, he could totally watch
it. It's really kind of a fun thing.
McCaw: Message to my wife: Diedrich Bader says
Diedrich Bader: Yes, don't blame
him. Blame me.
McCaw: What was it about you that made Andrea
Diedrich Bader: I think it was a
combination of the fact that I do a lot of comedy, and I
have the pipes to do Batman. Really, it's those two things.
interesting about it is that there's a voice that people
expect from Batman. You can't change the voice of Batman,
really, but you can change the approach. She knew that my
approach would be that I'm going to find where it's going
to be funny.
kinder, gentler Batman.
McCaw: Can you give me an example?
speaks as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Click here for the
Bader: (assumes a low-tone) Batman always talks
like this. Every other Batman speaks like this. I couldn't
McCaw: How about your Bruce Wayne?
Diedrich Bader: Bruce Wayne is actually
closer to me. In my approach, and this is through James
Tucker the creator, we had the idea that in the voice-over
he sounds like Bruce Wayne. It's essentially that he's playing
the character of Batman. When he dons the cowl, he assumes
the mantle of Batman. He actually plays the character. So
the voices of Bruce Wayne and Batman have to be separate.
McCaw: It is kind of an odd time for this,
as Batman is on everyone's mind because of The Dark Knight.
Diedrich Bader: No, no, I think
it's actually really great for us. It's perfect timing.
It's the Year of the Bat!
Also, a lot of people can't take their
kids to The Dark Knight. Nah. But they see the Batman
things everywhere. They see the motorcycle. They're built
up to do it, and this is a show that they can genuinely
watch. They can be a part of it.
McCaw: And you've probably now got an action
figure coming of yourself. Have you ever had an action figure
Diedrich Bader: No, and I'm really,
really excited about it. Because my son loves action figures.
They're strewn all over the house.
McCaw: Have they given you a prototype? Have
you seen you?
Diedrich Bader: No, I haven't seen
anything. In fact, the first time I'd even seen a frame
of the show was today with everyone else. I was really pumped,
because the animation looks great. It looks really good.
It's very Technicolor. It's very fluid
rather than angular. It's really cool. I think people are
going to love it.
McCaw: It sounds like you're such a fan…
Diedrich Bader: Oh, totally. Oh
McCaw: So which character crossover has got
you the most geeked out?
Bader: (laughs) Well, I like that Gorilla Grodd
is going to be in it. And Red Tornado. But I love the…um…probably
Huntress. I love that Huntress is in the show. She's hot.
McCaw: What about your on-camera work? You've
had some pretty funny stuff…
Bader with Andrea Romano at Comic-Con 2008
Diedrich Bader: Thank you. I'm just
not that interested in being on-camera right now. I audition
here and there, but not very much.
McCaw: What's made the difference for you?
Diedrich Bader: My kids are so little.
Particularly my daughter - she's two. You know, this will
sound weird, but because of The Drew Carey Show,
I'm able to not work. I have the great luxury of being around
my kids at a time when everybody says, "this is the greatest
time…" Every parent said enjoy these years.
The problem is that if you do a movie,
most shoot out of town. So what if I've got to shoot in
Australia for five months? I don't want to do that. I'm
going to miss five months - that's a quarter of her life!
I'm waiting for sitcoms to come back around.
Eventually they'll come back around.
McCaw: So you'd do a sitcom again?
Diedrich Bader: I'd totally do a
sitcom. Oh, god, yes. The hours are fantastic, and it's
fun to get in front of an audience. I miss getting in front
of an audience. The only reason I'm growing this stupid
mustache is that I'm doing a play next at the Taper - "The
House of Blue Leaves."
Anyway, then I can be around during the
day and go do the show at night. Because I like playing
in front of a crowd. I like doing what I do. That's what
I do like.
McCaw: You did a lot of improv with Drew Carey.
Do you work out with any improv groups in L.A.?
Bader: Not at all. Not at all. I'm basically a homebody.
As you know, if you're around a kid all day, you're wiped
out at the end of the day.
We thank Diedrich for his time, and look forward to the
Cartoon Network debut of Batman: Brave and the Bold!