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Phil Morris: No One Escapes The Manhunter
Part Two of our conversation...

Just looking to complete that Lee/Kirby run...
In part one, Phil Morris confessed to being a comics fan and talked about his work on The New Frontier. Here, he goes on to discuss his work for the genre in live action, and asks us for a grass roots campaign to keep the Manhunter going...

Derek McCaw: You’ve voiced Vandal Savage and King Faraday, then get to play live-action as J’onn J’onnz. What kinds of things are informing you as you create that character, when before all you had was your voice?

Phil Morris: J’onn J’onnz is very unique because I think he’s a wonderful foil for Kal-El/Clark in Smallville. Clark’s parents are no longer around. He doesn’t have a mature presence that informs him about the world at large. Let alone a mature presence who’s been on the planet as an alien for a couple of generations prior. So he’s getting a couple of things with J’onn J’onnz that I’m working with.

I’m using a bit of the Carl Lumbly Justice League Martian Manhunter, combined with a bit of the Laurence Fishburne Morpheus. Both very mature, strong cornerstone figures and both very much mentors. I’m kind of using those colors to inform me about how I deal with Clark/Kal-El in Smallville.

I think it’s coming off very well. I really like our scenes. I love working with Tom. I pine for going back there.

Derek McCaw: Are you going back there?

Phil Morris: I’m sure. I’m sure. He’s the kind of character that they need to address more, and I think there’s so much that he has that he can offer Clark in the show, beyond what the new Supergirl can offer, beyond what Lex Luthor or anybody else can offer, in a way that nobody else can replace or supplant. I’m very excited to get back there.

I need to punch somebody in the face, too. I do a lot of talking on that show.

Here...have an Oreo...
Derek McCaw: A lot of action does seem to be off-camera…

Phil Morris: Yeah, it’s a lot of editing, a lot of post (production). I need to jump in somebody’s mug. Really, really be Martian Manhunter. (laughs)

Derek McCaw: Assuming it’s more than just a photograph – what are we going to see you doing on The Sarah Connor Chronicles?

Phil Morris: I think that that’s a unique show. This is a show dealing with a time-frame continuum problem in a way. Is it after Terminator 3? Is it between 2 and 3? For my money, this should have been Terminator 3. If this was Terminator 3, we’d all be okay.

But because Miles died in Terminator 2, we deal with him in flashbacks and dream sequences. So I’ve actually had some scenes that they have not put in yet, because I don’t know if they think it will confuse the audience or what. I don’t know. They haven’t told me yet.

And it’s not my show. I’m not a regular; I don’t have a contract. It’s up to their wants, and when Josh (Friedman, the show’s creator) decides he wants to use me in the show, I’m sure he’ll put me in it.

Again, I waited a long time for this. I was the first guy they saw for Miles Dyson. The very first guy on the very first day, early morning, I was there. And they were like “this can’t be the guy. This isn’t how it happens. The first guy who comes in is never the guy who gets the job.”

So they went out and auditioned a bunch of people, always coming back to my tape and saying, “this IS the guy.” So they’ve decided I’m the guy, but now how do they use me? I think that’s what we’re waiting for.

Derek McCaw: Early in your career, your highest profile role was Jackie Childs on Seinfeld. So you started out known as a comic actor. Now you are like a sci fi go to guy – how does that feel?

Phil Morris: I love it. I love it. Like I said, I’m a sci fi fan. I’m rank and file. I want to be more. I want to play the Black Panther, I want to play Mr. Terrific.

Let him into your homes...
I’m not kidding you. I’ve talked with Greg Noveck about it, and I have ideas about spinning J’onn J’onnz into his own show. As a weekly detective kind of dark noir funky show, and use three actors. Like me and two other actors as his identities – three guys, or two guys and a girl, whatever – that play J’onn in various episodes. Through him you run various stories. I would think it would be a wonderful way to roll out other DC characters that aren’t so prominent.

Derek McCaw: You’ve been to San Diego before, but this is your first WonderCon.

Phil Morris: San Diego’s big. It’s hard to walk around. I haven’t gotten a chance to walk around here yet. I hope I can, look at the bins, fill in my collection…

Derek McCaw: What’s your Holy Grail here?

Phil Morris: I’m looking to round out Fantastic Four 1 through 100. I’ve got 5 through 100, but I’m missing just a few. I need to get 11, 15 then 1 through 4. It’s going to take a little bit of dough and a regular role on one of these shows…so any producers out there, or fans out there, that have an idea for a short film that we can spin off (laughing) …help a brother out.

So you've heard it, fans. Keep watching and let's keep our fingers crossed that Greg Noveck tries to make a pitch to the CW...

Derek McCaw

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