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Gotham Knights Online - Interview with Greg Rucka.


A behind the scenens look at The Music Meister.


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Composers talk crime jazz for Batman


Posted by Bob Tilley Friday, 20 February 2009

Well here it is my first official interview with WB voice and casting director Andrea Romano.

I had the amazing pleasure of interviewing her on Wednesday this week and it was like being a kid in a toy store again. I first remember seeing Andrea's name appear on the beginning title sequence of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the name just stuck with me since. Little did I know 16 years later I'd actually get the chance to speak with her.

The interview mainly focuses on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but I did get the chance to speak with her regarding her work on previous Batman animated series as well. Near the end of the interview, Andrea announced some upcoming characters to the show.

1. You've been involved with a number of DC animated shows for WB's for sometime now, starting with the original animated series. What was it like getting involved with these shows and gathering an amazing cast based on the different styles?

Andrea Romeno: It was very interesting for me, I had come from Hanna-Barbera for several years I'd been the casting director for them. Which as you probably know are very sort of, broad cartoony, more of a sillier type of truly children's shows, and then several of us split off from Hanna-Barbera and formed Warner Bros. TV animation. Where the first series was called "Tiny Toons Adventures" it was a Steven Spielberg executive produced show, also kind off silly and cartoony. And then the next thing that came to us was the DC Comics Batman the animated series, which it was determined that we wanted to make a very dark, different kind of animated series, and because most of what people knew of Batman was the Adam West, live action series which was so very silly, and wonderful, but no one had really done the dark, dark, dark knight, that we created and it was a big education for me because you know Batman is not a comic book that in the the past, many girls read. It was really kind of a boy oriented comic book, and so I had to learn a lot and ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research for myself to find out who are some of these characters? Who is Harvey Dent? and how does commissioner Gordon fit into the whole picture, all those kinds of things.

One of the best teachers in the world is Bruce Timm who has been the producer who I worked with the most of the DC properties over the years, and he taught me so much and of course all the writers and all the animators directors, their very, very willing to expound on their knowledge of what they know about the background of these characters and so, I got a very quick intense education on the world of Batman and the entire world of Gotham.

I knew that the casting had to be really different and specific, and I spent a very long time casting for the voice of Batman. I probably listened to maybe five hundred auditions that were submitted to me, and then narrowed it down to one hundred and fifty voices that I then called back so that I could direct them myself, and after a really extensive search we had found maybe four or five actors that we thought; yeah this guys could do it, yep this guy would be fine... and then Kevin Conroy walked through the door. A Julliard trained, wonderful actor who opened his mouth and we all just looked at each other and thought... we have found the voice of Batman. Kevin so understood the character, his voice printed so beautifully and is such a good actor, and it made the job much easier from that point on, because if you don't have a good Batman, your sunk in a Batman series.

So that was an absolute pleasure and all the education around it was very good for me, because I always like a constant influx of new information. I like always learning and so for working on Batman in that way was a real pleasure for me.

2. When you where first told about the concept of Brave and the Bold, what was your initial reactions to the style of the animation?

AR: I was glad to know that we were going to do a series that wasn't so dark. We had done the dark Batman for many, many seasons and many years, very successfully when Batman appeared in the Justice League series he was still the brooding dark Bruce Wayne and Batman.

3. Brave and the Bold has a more humors side to it and not as dark as previous versions of Batman cartoons. Does seeing the different animation styles help you determine, what actors to approach?

AR: I have cast Batman in many, many different projects and its always a challenge but this one when I learned it was going to a more "comic" turn on the character not to say that we were going to make him a big laughing buffoon character. Nor that we were we going to make him a stand up comic, but in fact we were going to allow Batman to have a sense of humour, which really we had not seen in any of the previous incarnations except for maybe a little touch here and there. I believe there was only one episode ever that we let Kevin Conroy laugh as Batman; I mean physically laugh, which ended up being a very, very bizarre and strange jarring sound for all of us working on the production, because Batman just wasn't a character who laughed.

It was a nice change for me to know that we were going to do a slightly lighter take on the Batman character, and when they described it to me, I understood then we also still had to maintain a bit of the Batman that we has established. He's still the same guy, its just that we are portraying him slightly differently, so I needed to find someone who has a sense of humor, who understood comic timing, but also could handle the darker deeper aspect that we still wanted to maintain, and the truth of it is that I came up the idea of Deidrich Bader before I did a single audition, and after I auditioned again many, many actors, and submitted them to the various powers that be who have casting approval, they all ultimately agreed with my initial instinct that was Deidrich Bader was the guy for the voice, which was great encouragement to me and made me very happy that we were all on the same page for how, the character should be played.

I've worked with Deidrich on another series called the "Zeta Project" where he played the robot Zeta, and Deidrich has said to me over and over again that of all the work that he has done, and he has an extensive resume that Batman the Brave and the Bold is and has been his favourite gig, which is just a beautiful complement to all of us working on the series.

4. On a more technical aspect, what's the process you go through to cast each role and how difficult is it to pick the right actor for that role, especially this being a more as you say humorous style of show?

AR: It does make a difference I always try and make sure that the environment that I bring the actors into for a recording session, is an environment that is conducive to doing good work being able to focus and concentrate, but the energy is different for say Batman the animated series, because the show was across the board darker. I try to make it a brighter, lighter energy for the Brave and the Bold and also the pace of the series is different. The actual dialogue is spoken more quickly and brighter in the Brave and the Bold than it was for the animated series, which is a slightly different energy and timing, and I only have a partial control over the timing because, I record the voices first and then it goes to a timing director, and they decide how much time is going to be between the lines of dialogue, so ideally they don't change or alter the humorous pattern and patter that I'm able to get, because you never know how much action is going to take place between each line. But I do have the great benefit at the end of the production before we finish during post production, I get to look at the picture with the director and producer with the voice track edited onto it and we can look at it and say we need to fix that dialogue and make it a little bit snappier, this scene no longer flows seamlessly into this scene, so have a fail safe period there so we can fix a lot of problems that might have occurred during production.

So we try and get more actors who are familiar with comedy and comic timing, but the truth of it is they all have to be good actors regardless if comedy is their main thrust, or drama is their main thrust. They all have to be good actors first, and then good voice actors second and then good voice technicians third. I can always teach voice technique, I can't teach voice acting fast enough in a single recording session. So for the most part almost everybody I higher has done voice over for animation before. Its really just a matter of explaining to them what the energy of the series is and how it is were going to depict it.

5. So you've already got a number of comedic actors in mind, like Tom Kenny for the role of Plastic Man, and especially in reference to the number of actors that are making an appearance in the show?

AR: Right and he's just wonderful were lucky to get to get him. I always feel that were very lucky to get so many of the actors come and work on our series but, when you call an agent for a casting call and I want to bring this actor in as a guest role, you tell them its for a Batman series you don't have to pitch it anymore than that, they know who Batman is. Most actors want to be part of a Batman show. So much work that a lot of these actors who come in a work with us, can't be watched by their very young children as its not appropriate yet, but a series like the Brave and the Bold, where actors like Tom Kenny can tell his son "I'm going to be Plastic Man on Batman", his son can't wait to watch the episode where his dad is playing Plastic Man.

There's a bunch of other actors like that too who will come to me and say, either my son, grandson, niece or nephew their so proud of me, not because I've done all this wonderful movie or TV work, but because I'm going to be on a Batman episode, and that's always great fun.

6. Going back to some of the earlier Batman series, what has been some of your fondest memories voice directing some of the actors?

AR: You know in the early Batman series because we were really the first animated series that treated the subject matter as seriously as we did, and because we were looking for real actors, that we put in front of the microphones and just let them do what they do so we directed them energy wise were we needed them to go but for the most part, I just got the heck out of their way and let them act.

Truly the world was my oyster I had a ridiculous number of people to choose from. As a matter of fact when I was first working with the Joker, when he first came on, we initially hired Tim Curry as the voice of the Joker, and during that period of time a new producer was brought in on the series, and for what ever reason I can't even tell you exactly why, he just didn't like the way Tim Curry's voice was reading on the series. Now had it been my choice I never would have replaced Tim Curry. I'm a big fan of his work I thought he was very good as the Joker, but my job is to supply the producers with that which they want, so they asked me to find another voice of the Joker. Meanwhile I had received a phone call from Mark Hamill, saying that he had heard we were making a Batman series and he wanted to be a part of the series. So how wonderful to have a phone call from a Jedi Knight, asking to be a part of a project your working on, so I brought him in as a guest star, were he played and I don't exactly remember the role, it was some kind of a sleazy executive, who we find out later in the episode is the villain and he finished recording the episode and he was very kind and had a great time, and came and thanked me and said I was so glad to do this guest role but said "but Andrea, I really want to be a part of the animated series", and so as I was recasting the Joker I thought you know lets give Mark Hamill a try, and he came in a did the most wonderful audition, and all of us were so impressed with his knowledge of the character. You know his a big comic book fan for a million years and has a remarkable collection, and a huge collection of toys and various things and, could tell me in minutiae details about the character that I knew nothing about and so actors of that calibre and of that quality, actually came to me to ask to be a part of the series and so my casting job was really just, choosing from with in this massive stable of actors and saying "OK" who would right for this guy, who would be right for this type of character, who should we bring in for the Penguin, so for me it was truly a joy and not a difficult casting project at all.

7. Could we expect to hear Kevin Conroy or Mark Hamill appear in any upcoming episodes of Brave and the Bold?

AR: You know I would so happy to have either of them at any time on any project I'm working on. I'm not going to commit an answer to that, but I would like to suggest everyone always keeps their ears open to hear who's coming up on the series.

8. Is there anything your allowed to tell the readers of Gotham Knights Online, that will be coming up in Batman: Brave and the Bold, that your particularly excited about?

AR: Oh yes well there are some terrific episodes and you know as any series progresses, it evolves, we all get better at what were doing, the animated style gets more defined, the voices get more diversified because people are seeing the series with their kids and saying I want to be a part of it. We will certainly be seeing more of the Blue Beetle and his friend called Poco. Black Canary is making an appearance, the Huntress is showing up. Were calling back upon some earlier Justice League characters like Booster Gold and Skeets, who are voiced by the same actors from the Justice League series and I urge everyone to keep watching and listening as it only gets better as we go along.

If you want to hear the full interview then click here for my first official Gotham Knights Online Podcast.



This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. 4th to 17th Oct, including Batman: Knightfall Pt11.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. 20th Sept to 3rd Oct, including Batman: Knightfall Pt10.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. 13th to Sept 20th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt9.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. Aug 30th to Sept 12th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt8.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. Aug 23rd to Aug 29th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt7.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. Aug 9th to Aug 22nd, including Batman: Knightfall Pt6.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. Aug 2nd to Aug 8th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt5.


This week we have a new host and review Batman: Under the Red Hood along with all the news from the week.


This is our SDCC '10 coverage special covering all the news from July 19th to July 25th.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. July 12th to July 18th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt2.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. July 5th to July 11th, including Batman: Knightfall Pt1.


This week we interview writer Judd Winick about the Red Hood.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. June 14th to June 20th.


This week we cover the amazing release of Batman #700. June 7th to June 13th.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. May 31st to June 6th.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. May 24th to May 30th.


This week we cover the usual news in the Batman Universe. May 10th to May 23rd.


We return for a quick April round table episode.


This week is our 25th Anniversary episode including a new co-host.


This week we interview with artist Lee Garbett to talk about his current run on Batgirl