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Backstage - Interviews - Andrea Romano

WF: Hello, Andrea! It is very great to finally have a chance to send some questions your way, so let's start off with Batman: The Brave and The Bold! When casting for this series, what qualities were you looking for from each actor?

That is a good question because it IS an unusual series. Unlike the previous Batman incarnations that I have cast and directed, this series is lighter and has a sense of humor. I needed actors who were not only good at voice work and full of versatility but who understood the tone of this series. The other challenge is casting a group who collectively sounds like they are from the same world.

WF: Having seen the first episode, it's safe to say that Will Friedle was perfectly cast as The Blue Beetle. Will we be seeing names that are more familiar in Batman: The Brave and The Bold, and what is it like to get to work again with someone you've worked with in the past? Who can we expect to see drop by?

I couldnít be happier to hear that! Anytime I work with an actor and have a good experience with them, I try to bring them back on any project I work on. Itís like going to a good restaurant- you always want to go back! I know how funny and talented Will is and Iím delighted to know the response to him as the Blue Beetle is so positive. I think heís perfect casting for that role.

Tom Kenny is signed on as Plastic Man. He actually did a pilot for me as Plastic Man before which ultimately wasnít picked up. James Arnold Taylor, who is such a wonderful and talented actor, is the Green Arrow. John DiMaggio is brilliant as Aquaman and plays him as one of the funniest superheroes Iíve ever heard. Iíd put Corey Burton on every project I ever worked on if I could. Iím especially proud to work with R. Lee Ermey as Wildcat. Heís such a beautiful voiceless character. R. Lee is not someone just doing a character voice, but someone whose texture and quality comes naturally to his voice.

WF: Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, The Batman, and now Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Each had their own unique take on the fabled Caped Crusader. When casting for each series, how does the tone of the show itself play a role in casting for a series? Does it get harder to cast for Batman each time?

The tone of the show is key in the casting. There are certain vocal qualities that we look for in each series. When Iím in the beginning stages of casting and directing, one of the most difficult parts of the process is what I call finding ĎTHE VOICEí of the show. This is not an individual voice but the vocal style and quality of the entire series. Sometimes it takes several episodes before we really feel comfortable and find what ĎTHE VOICEí of the show is. This particularly incarnation of Batman is slightly lighter and more comic than the very dark Batman: The Animated Series. Each one of those series mentioned is completely unique in tone, and therefore required and entirely different cast.

To answer your second question, it does get incredibly more difficult each time. The first time it was just plain daunting and it only became more challenging each time. Someone once told me Iíve recast the role of Batman seven to eight times, so Iíve already gone out to most of my favorite actors in town to offer them the role! This is an awesome responsibility and because Batman is one of my personal favorite superheroes, that makes it even more difficult because I truly want to get it right.

WF: As a semi-follow-up to the previous question, what has changed since you first cast Batman to today? How has the industry changed as the technology did? Did you find yourself having to adapt?

Technology has changed massively and so has our voice over industry. When we would need to reference a voice in the past, weíd have to roll back tape on a reel-to-reel machine and manually search for it. Sometimes this process would take up to 15 minutes. Now with digital technology, we can get there in seconds. We also have the ability to pitch voices, electronically massage them, to reverb them, to change their speedÖall with the press of a button! It used to be a very long, intricate and difficult process that would take days to get these fantastic results.

Also, the editing process is amazingly fast today. During a recording session, we can identify the clips we like best of each take, and within moments the engineer or editor can piece it together and play it back for our review. Technology has definitely sped up the processes involved in recording sessions.

WF: Now, this next question is fan-submitted and, since I just couldn't wrap my head on how to rewrite it without losing the impact of it, I'm going to repeat it here: ďHow does it feel to be the best person to cast the best people for cartoons?Ē So, any response?

Well thatís very nice! It feels wonderful! I donít know that Iím always the best person to cast the best people - but I try. Itís my responsibility and honor to do a good job for the fans. Without their approval, I wouldnít have a job. Every time the fans respond positively, itís a huge relief and great compliment to me. I love my job and creating a team of people that work well together. It makes me extremely happy when my employers are pleased with the work and the fans like it too.

WF: As a sort of follow-up to the previous question, you have become quite synonyms with DC Animation. In fact, your impact on these series is quite considerable (you gave Batman a voice!). What draws you to these shows and did you ever think you'd have as big an impact on the fan community as you've had?

Iím so flattered at the fan response and it touches me very deeply. I knew so little about the DC Universe when I first began working on the first Batman: The Animated Series. Iím far more educated in that world today. Iím thankful that my ignorance in the beginning didnít hold me back from discovering and finding voices that live in that realm. In fact, it may have helped to come at them with no preconceived ideas. Reading the scripts and working with the producers really helps me to bring their vision to life. What also draws me to these shows are the quality of the productions, the interesting source material, the creative producers and animation directors that I get to work with.

WF: Andrea, another fan submitted question asks: ďWho is your favorite superhero?Ē Why? Any response?

Batman! I love him first and foremost. Heís like your first boyfriend and heís my first superhero. Iíll always have that special bond with him. It was extremely difficult to cast but once I found him, I truly fell in love. Heís not cut and dry nor does he always do the right thing. For Batman, the end justifies the means. Heís impulsive, reactive and he makes mistakes. He is HUMAN. For example, Superman will always put his moral sense of right and wrong out there. It would take a lot for him to dangle a man 30 stories from the ground by his feet to get some answers, but Batman has no qualms about that!

I also find him very sexy. Thereís just something dark, mysterious and moody about his presence. Itís much like girls pining for the ďbad boyĒ when thereís the straightedge, dependable and responsible man next door. We always want the one whoís more of a challenge, the one that rejects you and lives on the wrong side of the track.

WF: Diedrich Bader is the new man under the cowl in Batman: The Brave and The Bold, and you've worked with him before as Zee in The Zeta Project. How did you have to direct him differently here than in The Zeta Project, and how was it like to work with Bader again?

Batman and Zee are very different characters. Zee was a robot, so although we wanted him to have human characteristics, we always had to deal with his slightly robotic nature and mannerisms. Batman is obviously human so we had to have a very human aspect to his voice. My previous work experience with Diedrich and familiarity with his on- camera work just made it easier for me to work with him.

When Diedrich started doing his voice over for this show, James Tucker, Diedrich and I realized that what weíre hearing is really the voice of Bruce Wayne. Although youíll never see Bruce on screen, youíll hear him thinking, and see Batman reacting. Itís a very subtle difference and quite fascinating. The voices definitely evolve, like with any series, through the episodes. For example, episode 3 is better than episode 2, and episode 4 is better than 3. I read the show Bible and thought Diedrich would be the right person for the role, and having completed all 26 episodes now, Iím absolutely confident he was perfect.

Diedrich occasionally brings his son Sebastian to the sessions. Itís wonderful to see this childís immediate reaction to the vocal track recording. You can see on his face that he likes whatís going on. Very rarely in animation do you get instant responses and feedback like that. Especially given the fact that we usually record 6-8 months before the cartoon is finished and airs.

WF: Now, we're going to veer off-topic for just a moment as we look at some of your other DC-related projects, specifically the Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Superman Batman: Public Enemies animated features. Are you happy with the casting and voice work for the upcoming Wonder Woman animated feature, and who can we expect to see behind the mic for Green Lantern and Superman Batman: Public Enemies?

For the Wonder Woman project, which comes out in February, Keri Russell is Wonder Woman and sheís wonderful! She has a youthful strength, an innocence and confidence that work perfectly for the character. Alfred Molina is Ares, the God of War, Nathan Fillion is Steve Trevor. I didnít actually watch ďWaitressĒ, the film that Keri and Nathan had done together until after we wrapped production on Wonder Woman. Even though Keri and Nathan recorded separately, their performances are seamless. I think part of that compatibility is because they worked together previously on ďWaitressĒ and had a sense of what the other person was going to do.

Rosario Dawson plays Artemis, Virginia Madsen is Hippolyta, David Mccallum is Zeus, Oliver Platt plays Hades and Vicki Lewis is Persephone. Iím so thrilled to have a superhero direct-to-video that is filled with women. Itís usually packed with male voices!

I canít discuss the voice actors for Green Lantern or Public Enemies but know that you have something great to look forward to. I was able to put together a remarkable team of talent, many of them will be recognized, and the casting will surprise their fans.

WF: A quick follow-up to the previous question: How do you approach directing a cast for an animated television series as opposed to an animated feature, and vice versa?

In a feature and direct-to-home video, we have a little more time and usually a little more money so we can attempt to achieve more subtleties in both the voice acting and animation acting. We donít work in as broad strokes as we have to for television, which is pretty fast and furious. We could take the time to record simple breaths, for example, in a feature or a home video that would get lost in TV animation

WF: Outside of Batman: The Brave and The Bold and the current DC DTVs, you have a lot on your plate. Care to tell us what other projects you're currently working on, and tell us how you're able to juggle them so effectively?

Yes there are many others! I direct SpongeBob SquarePants for Nickelodeon. I direct Ben 10: Alien Force for Cartoon Network. I am also working on two video games, Diablo 3 and Star Craft 2 for Blizzard Entertainment. Iíll also be doing the Boondocks for Sony. Itís very difficult juggling my schedule and sometimes my plate is so full, that I worry the quality of my work will deteriorate. As a result, I often have to pass on some of the beautiful jobs that Iím offered. Maintaining the quality of work that my employers and fans have come to expect is my highest priority.

WF: Any last thoughts on Batman: The Brave and The Bold as we bring this Q & A to a close, Andrea?

Iím looking forward to the audience response on The Brave & the Bold because itís such a unique take on Batman. To date the press and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Please let us know how you like the series and hopefully weíll make more. Batman is such an iconic character we might even be able to keep supplying you with new series until Iím too old to direct!

Thank you for your time!

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