A number of interviews with the voice cast for Warner Home Video’s Wonder Woman animated D2V feature have appeared on the web since its 3.03.2009 release. And the official site includes video interviews as well.
I’ve included only interview highlights in the block quotes below, so please click on any of the links to read the complete interviews.
QUESTION: How did you arrive at the voice used for Diana/Wonder Woman?
KERI RUSSELL: I was trying to focus on her differences – she’s a true, strong warrior, but she’s also right at the break of being a young woman standing on her own and fighting out in the world. So it was a question of playing the innocence in her voice against the strength of a warrior, and then balancing that against Virginia Madsen playing her mother with such warmth and wisdom already in her voice. So finding Diana’s voice was trying to figure out how to walk that line.
Q: Did you know Nathan Fillion would be playing the role [of Steve Trevor]?
JELENIC: No, I had no idea! You know, Nathan Fillion did not even occur to me when I was writing, but once I think either Bruce Timm or Andrea Romano suggested him, and it was so obvious that that was the guy I had in my head when I was writing, even sub-consciously. That’s who Steve Trevor is, and I didn’t even know. It never occurred to me, but I was so pleased to hear the performance.
Q: You get a script into its final form, and then you hand it to the actors. Can you talk about what they bring to the performance?
JELENIC: Yeah, you know, I’m one of those people who, when they ask, “Who’s the most important: actors, directors, writers?” In live-action, I always say it’s the actors because that’s what you see. You don’t see the script page, you don’t see the lights, and if you have a bad writer or a bad director, good actors can hide all of that. Same thing with voice actors. They bring a sort of subtlety or a nuance to the roles that aren’t there, so Keri Russell, Nathan, Virginia Madsden, Oliver Platt, Alfred Molina, it’s like the casting is really insane, how good these people are, and it makes me look 10 times better than I actually am. The script sucks (laughs), but the voice acting is awesome.
Q: What’s it like to work with Andrea Romano?
TIMM: Oh, it’s a dream. I’m spoiled because I’ve been really lucky that I’ve only ever worked with her on every project I’ve ever done. I’ve never worked with anybody else, so I have nobody to compare her to, but she’s awesome. She really knows her stuff, and she’s really well-connected in the entertainment business, so she’s able to call people up that you wouldn’t think you’d even be able to get near, and she can make it happen. She’s a super-talented director. I love her to pieces.
Q: How did you first start working with her?
TIMM: She was the voice director on Tiny Toons. Again, it wasn’t really anything special. She was there, I was there, she was available, and she had a great reputation already at that point. I said, “Well, I’ve never worked with any voice director, so I’ll try her out,” and we’ve just been working together ever since.
Q: Can you talk a bit more about your collaboration with her? How does that work? Do you come to her with ideas? Does she come to you with ideas?
TIMM: It’s both. We sit together, sometimes with the director and sometimes with other creative people like the writers or other producers or whoever, and we sit in a room and just brainstorm different ideas of who would be appropriate for certain parts. We usually make a big long list for each character and start narrowing it down — “Ah, this guy’s better than him” — and we number it by preference. “Let’s go after this guy first,” 1, 2, and 3. If all those guys bail, then we move on to our next set. There’s a lot of back-and-forth, but it’s fun because she’ll think of people I wouldn’t think of, and vice versa.
Q: What does [Michael] Ironside have that made you want to cast him?
TIMM: Uhh….he’s just scary (laughs). He’s really scary. Like, even in real life, he scares the crap out of you. So, you know, perfect casting for Darkseid.
Q: How closely did you work with the actors in terms of shaping their performances in the film?
MONTGOMERY: Well, Bruce and I sit in on all the voice acting sessions, but luckily, we have Andrea Romano, who is our voice director, and she pretty much does 99% of the work just on her own because she’s just that good. She knows what she’s doing, she does all her research and all her homework, and it makes my job on that portion of it very, very easy. Every once in a while, if I have a small note, like, “Oh, this person needs to be more angry when saying this,” I just let her know and she’s always able to get the exact performance that we want.
Q: When the voice talent was released, there was a lot of positive feedback from the fan community. What was it like working with Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Oliver Platt…?
MONTGOMERY: Well, luckily, each and every one of them was very, very easy to work with. Some of them had done voice work before, and just came in and knew exactly what to do. Others had not, but the more that they got into it, the easier it became for them, and as soon as you become comfortable, they’re just able to go and they did a great job, every single one of them. Voice casting and voice directing and the acting in just all of these DC films has been really, really good, and it’s kind of what adds to the believability of the character and the prestige of the film.
Q: Keri Russell is not necessarily the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking of Wonder Woman. Was there a role that basically sold you guys on her, or was it her test?
MONTGOMERY: She did not do a voice test. Usually, when people throw names out, we’ll just go to YouTube or whatever and pull up some way we can hear their voice. Even though you might not think of Keri to look the part, that’s the greatest thing about voice acting is that you don’t have to look the part (laughs). But she has a quality to her voice that has strength and presence, but youth as well, and that’s what we needed for this Wonder Woman. We needed a young Wonder Woman that didn’t sound small or high-pitched. She still needed to be six-feet tall, and we were able to get that with Keri’s voice.
QUESTION: Would you describe the challenges of bringing this character to life with this particular voice?
ROSARIO DAWSON: I haven’t done that much voiceover work., so it was interesting to prepare for a character like Artemis who’s so strong and so powerful. Then you have the language, the pronunciations, the Greek mythology involved, the kind of accent they want. She’s from a different land and such a different time. I’m a New Yorker, so there are some aspects of being a tough woman that I thought I could bring to the role – but it’s such a different world as a woman who’s like a warrior. This medium is very dependent on understanding what the filmmakers want – so, ironically, listening is really important part to doing voiceover work.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part of voice acting?
ALFRED MOLINA: This is all about imagination. It’s like our director Andrea (Romano) likes to say, “Thank you for coming to play.” And that’s really what voice acting is. It’s play acting at its most childlike, it’s most free. There are no restrictions of costume or scenery or a set. It’s about what’s in your head, and that’s the fun part.
QUESTION: Were there any challenges of bringing this particular character to life?
ALFRED MOLINA: The main challenge with doing a vocal performance is to find the way that the voice matches the image. Very often, in a sense, you’re working ahead of the image. The image hasn’t been finalized yet, so you get a vague idea of what the character’s going to look like, but you don’t see the character move, and you don’t see the character physically behaving in any sort of significant way. So you rely very much on the director and the writers to help you find that voice. The nice thing is that chances are they’ve called you in because they like something about the quality of your voice, and from there it’s very much a series of building blocks. You start off by some kind of generalized tone, some sense of where you might be, and then you just start refining it bit by bit. Less of a cry, more of a growl. With Ares, I initially placed the voice quite low, which made him sound rather rough, and Andrea (Romano) said, ‘Just make it a bit more suave.’ Sometimes all you need is that idea, the slightest of descriptions, like ‘suave,’ and you adjust to something that’s going to work.
QUESTION: You’ve been involved in a lot of primetime television and feature films in recent years. What prompted you to accept a voiceover role?
NATHAN FILLION: I find that I’m in a spot in my career right now where a lot of my jobs come around from people I’ve worked with already. People keep inviting me back. It’s nice to work with the same people when you’ve had a good time previously, and this is one of those cases. So when you get a phone call saying, ‘How would you like to be Steve Trevor in the new Wonder Woman animated movie?’, you naturally answer ‘That would be great.’ And you smile all day.
Q: You’ve been doing voice-over work for a long time. What are the challenges of this kind of work, as opposed to live-action?
Madsden: I think all actors really think that they can do a voice in a cartoon but this is a skill you really have to learn. I started doing it when I was pregnant with my son, who is now fourteen, and it was really a skill to be learned; how to work on the microphone and how to do characters without using your body because we work in a visual medium and when you’re not in that and you’re only working vocally, it’s not easy at first. Now that I’ve been doing it so long, I can really go in and fly.
Q: Is there anything special you do to prepare for voice-over work?
Madsden: Before you go in, you have to know that you are going to have fun. And I get to do things with my voice that I would never get to do on camera. Especially if you’re going to do a longer job, like you’re not just doing a twenty-minute show you’re doing feature-length, so you have to warm up your voice. You have to sharpen your vocal skills before you go into the recording studio.
Actually, because in animation there’s a lot of screaming, there’s a lot of grunting when you’re doing fight sounds and action sounds — everything has to be vocalized. So if you’re not careful with your voice before going in, you won’t have a voice by the end of the day. I pride myself on the fact that I can scream and grunt and I’ll still have a voice and be able to record the next day without being hoarse.