| Backstage - Andrea Romano Interview
Were there any particular challenges with
casting the role of Wonder Woman for this?
I was so excited to do a project that had a major female
character in it because so often the action shows are
all kind of male casts, so it was a pleasure first of
all, that had many females in it which made me really
happy. And this was a slightly different Wonder Woman
than I had worked with before in that itís really kind
of her origin story. It's when she comes into the world
of humans and off of Paradise Island so I needed
somebody with a voice that had strength because clearly
she has physical strength but also an innocence, you
know a naivety that she had to have. As often happens on
things I've been casting where you can tell what I've
been watching on TV or what films I've been watching
because those tend to be the actors I bring into
projects because I'm aware of them and I had just seen
"Waitress." So I saw Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell just
giving those beautifully sensitive performances and then
it became a no-brainer. Unfortunately they could not
actually perform together. I had to record them in
separate sessions in separate cities on different months
I think even, but that is a common thing in what I do
that the actors are not always available at the same
time so I have to just make sure I get continuity in
their performances. Then we have that failsafe at the
end which is ADR when the picture is done; so we've
recorded the track and animated the movie and then it
comes back married and we look at it and say "You know
what, we need to fix that. He's shouting and she's quiet
and they're standing next to each other." So we have to
kind of balance that out and re-record that and so
that's the failsafe that makes sure I get continuity.
But yes, it was an interesting challenge to cast Wonder
Woman because I needed the strength and the innocence.
She's kind of ignorant about the ways of mankind, but
she can't sound stupid, so there's the difference
between ignorance and stupidity. She can't sound dumb.
She needs to be innocent and ignorant and then there's
this guy Trevor who hopefully doesn't take advantage of
Listen to sound clip about a drunk story.
cool as it is to get people like Keri Russell and other
celebrities being these voices, how important do you
feel it is to use these people when it used to mainly be
the full time voiceover actors?
I don't feel that it has to be a celebrity at all. I of
the mind that it should be the best actor for the role,
regardless of who they are if they are well known or
never have been heard of before. I don't think that
people going into a video store to buy a property like
Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman are going to say "Oh
I'm not going to buy that because there are no
celebrities in it." I really don't. I think they're
going to say "It's Wonder Woman and I want my daughter
to watch Wonder Woman," or whatever. I'm of the mind
that it should be the best actor. The thing about
celebrities is when I have to get approval from a group
of people and say I want to hire James Arnold Taylor, a
brilliant, wonderful voiceover actor who's really good,
they'll go "I don't know who that is." When I say I want
to hire Nathan Fillian they'll go "I know who that is!"
so it's easier because they all know who it is so they
can say "Yes, let's go there." I don't like to cast
celebrities strictly for celebrity sake, I like to cast
the best actor for the role. I'm willing to fight for
the rank-and-file actor to get them in there to do it. I
do fill up the rest of the cast with the rank-and-file
actors. I'm sure you guys are aware of it where there's
gratuitous celebrity casting where you get somebody like
Jackie Chan in Kung Fu Panda who has 3 lines and that's
a waste of a wonderful talent. I don't believe in that
at all. I believe let's get the right guy for the role.
The Screen Actors Guild allows me to hire 1 actor for 3
voices and not every celebrity can do 3 voices. Not
every celebrity can do 3 voices. You'll find some guys
who are really versatile who are really good, but you go
to the rank-and-file animation voiceover actors, the Rob
Paulsens, the Maurice LaMarches, the Jeff Bennett and
they all can give you 3 voices that sound completely
different, speaking right next to each other and I need
those guys to fill in my cast so I've got all the roles
filled with versatile people and when I can I love to
put those guys in the room with the celebrities and
watch the celebrities jaws just drop as these voiceover
actors do what they do.
Since Wonder Woman has such a strong voice, who do
you cast as a villain for her to face?
The voice of Ares is Alfred Molina, who couldn't be a
more wonderful man. A brilliant actor we all know we've
watched him do remarkable work. He told me a great
story. It was Christmas time and we were recording him
and someone had sent me an enormous basket of chocolates
and so I brought it into the recording studio and told
everyone to please help me eat this chocolate or I'll
take it home and eat it myself. I was reminded he did
the movie Chocolat. He said they shot a scene where he
just gorges himself with chocolate and he told me he ate
2 pounds of chocolate because he had to shoot that scene
But he is just strong, wonderful deep voice and he's so
versatile. He can do Shakespeare and he can do just
whatever contemporary modern thing you want him to do.
He has the British accent of course, but his American
accent is excellent. We had some great fun working with
him. He was such a joy.
Andrea lets us know some of the other cast members at
this point. They include Virginia Madsen as Hippolyta.
Rosario Dawson plays Artemis, one of the Amazon
warriors. Oliver Platt plays Hades. David McCallum plays
Zeus and had just recently played Alfred in Batman:
Listen to Andrea
talk about Oliver Platt.
a fan of Wonder Woman, what are you looking forward to
about the movie?
I always love to see how it all sticks together. I think
of it almost like a puzzle. I've got this actor's
performance and then down the line that actor's
performance so I love to see how it all comes together
so that aspect of it is to me is really significant. Wow
that really worked! It sounds like they're talking
together and they really weren't. I never know what the
action sequences will look like. Because although it may
be described in the script I work off of, it often
changes considerably from the description to what they
When you were casting for Wonder Woman did you have
to do a lot of research?
I always have to do research. Girls didn't back in my
day read comic books like Batman and Superman and Wonder
Woman. We read like Betty and Veronica and the
occasional romance comic if we read them at all. Now
girls do much more. I see girls in the hotel reading
comic book and that was the de rigor(sp?) of the day
when I was a kid. So I always have to do research and I
always have to ask a lot of questions. Then what makes
it good is I become an audience member who needs to have
things explained to and when I say the script doesn't
make that clear then the writers know they should add
something that will help anyone else like me who doesn't
know that history that you can't go too deep into it but
at least so that reference to that point makes sense to
someone who doesn't know Wonder Woman. Who may not know
any of those things.
Do you see any character designs beforehand?
Yes, but I'm also told that sometimes the designs will
change. Then I ask if it will change considerably and
that's the kind of thing I have to do with. It doesn't
matter to me if they make her waist a little smaller or
her bosom a little bit larger (laughs). That doesn't
matter, but what does matter is with a character like
Ares. Will he have big, massive shoulders or be slight?
That's a voice type you have to be concerned with. What
is the physicality of the character and does the voice
match? We all have friends who may not have voices that
match their bodies, but in animation that doesn't really
work. You have to have them sound like what they look
like unless you're playing the comedy beat and you have
a big, beefy guy who sounds like Mike Tyson.
Is there an evolution in Wonder Woman's voice as she
progresses through the movie?
Not in her voice, in her knowledge and maturity, yet she
still retains this kind of innocence that's endearing in
her. I wanted to keep the femininity most importantly,
and there's a growth and learning process for Wonder
Woman, but not vocally.
Have you found any challenges in re-casting
characters you've visited before?
It's hard. It's really hard. Someone told me the other
day I cast Batman 7 times. Sometimes I think I don't
have any other thoughts. I've asked every actor who I've
think is appropriate to do it already or sometimes
there's people who wanted to do it but weren't available
during my production period so I have to go back and
check all my notes from my previous gigs and see if they
want to come play now.
I like the continuity of going back. I love that in
Gotham Knight it's Kevin Conroy.
Listen to Andrea
explaining the recording process.
it hard to tell the actors from previous performances
that they will not be doing this project?
It's always hard. I'm a very actor-friendly director
having been an actress myself 1000 years ago. I always
want to be sure to protect the actors feelings as much
as possible and actors are really sensitive people,
that's why they're actors. They have a really strong
emotional response to things, so I always try to be very
straightforward with them and let them know I'm working
on another project and I've been told I have to re-cast
it and it's not because you did anything wrong and when
we do something that has to do with what we've done in
the past. It's just been what I've been asked to do.
It doesn't happen too often, but every once in a while
I'll hire an actor and it doesn't work. They don't get
the energy; they don't understand it; especially if
they're strictly film actors. They do very small facial
reactions, vocal reactions. Some actors whisper almost
entirely. I've had a couple of actors like that and they
just didn't understand the energy. I'd push and push and
push and it doesn't work. Stage actors do really well.
They make the segue really easily. A lot of the TV
actors or film actors who also do stage seem to make a
nice easy path into it. But I don't ever like to replace
an actor. When it happens I'll call the agent right
away; because you don't want the piece to come out and
the actor to not know they were replacing and they're
screaming at home watching the DVD (laughs). So I
explain to them what the problem was and why it happened
and try to handle it as delicately as possible.
The World's Finest would like to thank Andrea Romano for her participation in this interview.
Interview conducted by Matt Hazuda @ SDCC '08.
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