If you grew up on 80s-90s cartoons like I did, then a good chunk of your childhood was cast by one person: Andrea Romano. The VO legend is responsible for casting and directing many of the animated greats of the era: Duck Tales, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, and for today’s purposes, the subsequent series of Batman Beyond (’99-’01).
I do voice work myself, so with that and my childhood love for animation, meeting and interviewing Andrea Romano this past October was as big a deal to me as meeting any actor I could think of.
My interview with reputed Romano was at NY Comic Con this year, for the Batman Beyond 20th celebration and Blu-Ray box set release. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment organized a 20th panel at Con, as well as press roundtable access to Beyond cast and crew like Andrea. As I said in my piece for Lauren Tom (the voice of Dana Tan on Batman Beyond): “Thanks to C506, I had press passes to NYCC this year, which then got a Batman Beyond podcaster into a Batman Beyond press event. Dangerous territory.”
Again, Andrea cast the iconic voice of Kevin Conroy for Bruce Wayne/Batman on BTAS. Early in production on Beyond, it had been decided that Conroy would reprise his role as an older Bruce for the new futuristic Batman series. What had not yet been decided was the casting of our younger Bat, Terry McGinnis. And, for a pro like Romano, settling for just any lead actor was not an option.
From my press roundtable interview with Andrea Romano at NY Comic Con 2019:
Third Party Press: You cast Kevin [Conroy] as Batman. What were the challenges in casting Terry? Were there any?
AR: Absolutely. We already knew we had a great actor in Kevin Conroy. And, to cast anybody with acting talent than that would make it uneven. It would be unbalanced. I needed somebody that I knew would be able to handle–already, you’re intimidated because Kevin is well known, he’s an iconic voice already, before we get into Batman Beyond.
AR (continued): And, so, Bruce Timm’s wife had been watching Boy Meets World and said, “There’s an actor on there that you really should see. Listen to him. And, so I watched some of his work and like, “Oh, no I can already tell he’s a good actor.” That’s the thing about using an on camera actor, is that you can see their work. You know if they’re good actors or not. I can teach voice technique. I can teach you not to pop on a microphone. I can teach you how far to bee from a microphone, in five minutes. I cannot teach you how to act in a four hour session.
AR (continued): So, I already knew Will could act. I probably saw, listened to, 250 auditions for young Terry McGinnis, and young Batman, and then called back maybe 50 people. Because, you want to make sure you explore the options. We have a large talent pool in Los Angeles. Lots of actors could conceivably do this, and I had 4 or 5 guys that could do it. And then, Will came in and I was like, “oh no, he could really do it.” He can bring it.
AR (continued): Then, I’m quite sure this is what we did–and, it’s not often done. I brought in Kevin and Will together as a final call back, to make sure they sounded good together, that they would play off each other. ‘Cause, there’s such banter between them. That’s got to be–actors can’t fabricate that if it doesn’t really exist between actors. And, they were right away mocking each other and making fun and then came right to it. So, that was the challenge: finding somebody who could match the acting, but also have fun and not be intimidated. Will had no technique yet. He did not know voice acting. Easy to teach him that, and he just fell right into it.
Here is Friedle’s humorous side of the story, from the same roundtable of Beyond interviews at NYCC:
Friedle jokes: And, I still don’t think I have a shot at the part, if I’m totally honest. I tell Andrea all the time: I’m waiting for the box set to come out and to pop it in, and it’s somebody else’s voice. Like, “they finally recast me, ok. I’ve been waiting for this for twenty years. It’s finally James Marsden or someone else. Ok, I get it. “
Stay tuned here at C506 as well as my Above and Batman Beyond podcast/YouTube channel for more live coverage of NY Comic Con. Again, beside Romano and Friedle, I interviewed additional cast/crew of Batman Beyond, including Kevin Conroy, Lauren Tom, James Tucker, and Alan Burnett.
Here’s the video version of my interview with Friedle, on being cast as the Bat. Subscribe to my Above and Batman Beyond YouTube channel and podcast for more roundtable interviews with cast and crew of the now twenty year old series.
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