Phil Morris Discusses His Role As Vandal Savage In “Justice League: Doom” Feature

The World’s Finest presents the first in a series of studio-conducted interviews, provided by Warner Home Video, for the Justice League: Doom direct-to-video animated feature. Continue reading below for an interview with actor Phil Morris as he discusses his critical role in the upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie title. Justice League: Doom arrives February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. Click on the other thumbnails below for larger images.

Smallville star Phil Morris reprises villainous role of Vandal Savage in Justice League: Doom
Actor to attend bi-coastal premieres of all-new DC Universe Animated Original Movie

Its a busy time for Phil Morris.

Easily recognizable to sitcom viewers as the hilariously slimy lawyer Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld, and renowned throughout the fanboy realm as Jonn Jonzz/Martian Manhunter on Smallville, Morris is splitting his time this February celebrating his latest triumphs.

Morris is a NAACP Image Award nominee in the category of Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for Love That Girl! While he prepares for the awards ceremony and all of its requisite celebrity gatherings, Morris is also making time to attend both the New York (2/13) and Los Angeles (2/16) premieres of Justice League: Doom.

The consummate nice guy, Morris shifts to a darker, villainous approach for Justice League: Doom as he reprises his Justice League animated television series role as the immortal Vandal Savage. Morris is one of nine actors returning to the booth to record their original roles.

Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated Justice League: Doom arrives February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet Digital Copy.

Justice League: Doom finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains orchestrated by Vandal Savage discover and implement the Dark Knights contingency plans for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waids much-heralded JLA: Tower of Babel, and scripted by the late Dwayne McDuffie.

Morris is more than just an actor with a tendency to perform in fanboy-centric productions he is a devout fan of the genre and its comic book origins. His comics collection exceeds 20,000 and includes gems like a 1948 Captain America, issues 1-18 of Silver Surfer, the first 20 Barry Windsor-Smith issues of Conan, and many of the original run of the Fantastic Four. It goes back pretty far, Morris says. I collect to this day.

Prepping for the onslaught of reporters queries on the red carpets on both coasts prior to the premieres of Justice League: Doom, Morris welcomed the opportunity to answer a few questions about Vandal Savage, comics collecting, and the possibility of someday voicing his Smallville character Martian Manhunter in an animated form. Read on

QUESTION: Whats the mindset of Vandal Savage, and whats been the joy of playing this role?

PHIL MORRIS: Vandal Savage is an immortal who has been around the human species for all time. Hes extremely intelligent hes incredibly evolved because of contact with a meteor that landed in his village. And hes always trying to overthrow the world. His vision is that the world should be his, as many of these despots feel. But he feels that because hes lived so long, hes entitled.

I love Vandal. I played Vandal for the Justice League series a few times, but this is a little bit of a different take on Vandal. Back on the series, he was more of a smooth criminal he was more nuanced, he had more style. Now, I guess, hes just had it. Hes kind of approaching things as if to say I dont have time to play with you. He has no more guile left in him. Hes straight, no chaser, which makes him much more dangerous, much more evil, and much harder edged, especially in my vocal performance.

And I love this script. Dwayne (McDuffie) really made it a walloping good romp for the Justice League players. And then Vandal is a bit like the Lex Luthor of the show its his mastermind, his ideas, his design that almost or does bring the world to its doom. Youll have to watch to see. Vandal is very much the thrust of the evil of this show. Thats fun to play.

QUESTION: Whats it like for you to be recording with all these original voices from the series again?

PHIL MORRIS: Its great to have these actors back in these roles, but thats the magic of these animated projects. I think one of the things the DC/Warner Bros. people do very well is get the right people for the job, from the top down. From Bruce (Timm) and Andrea (Romano) all the way down to the cast and they take pains to make sure that everything is as accurate as possible because they know that, as fans, were watching and were listening and we need to be served. And they serve us very, very well. They give us some of the greatest vocal talent in the business.

QUESTION: You say we and that collection of 20,000+ comics at home attests to your love for this genre. This is more than just work for you, right?

PHIL MORRIS: It feels as though Ive been doing homework on these characters since I was 7 years old, and I loved being able to tell my mother that Im finally making my comic book collection pay off. Actors use whatever reference material is at hand to flush out their characters, and in that I have been a comic collector for so long, I dont have to go too far to relate to the process of the villain or hero in this universe of comics. I fee-+
l like I am one of the rank and file who has gotten lucky enough to embody these characters. Its a pleasure and an honor.

QUESTION: Which way do your comic book tastes venture these days?

PHIL MORRIS: Its interesting because they always ask the question: Is it DC or Marvel? If youre a real comic book fan, you had to pick a side. You couldnt go down the middle. As a younger comics reader, I liked Marvel a lot, because Marvel reflected African Americans sooner than DC did. I think that gave me a little bit of an affinity for them. But now in my more mature years, its all about good story telling, and I find DC tells great stories and has great, solid characters. They have probably my favorite character in Batman. So Im much more interested in the continuity of the universe I was an artists guy before, relating to the pictures and the artistry. That really thrilled me. Now its about the concepts and the writing. Im always looking for a good yarn.

I like reading Garth Ennis, J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Waid, Jeff Loeb guys like that. The writers have become fantastic they have taken what society is and spun it on its ear. Its not really kid stuff anymore. Kids can still invest and enjoy the books, but so can adults. Mark Millar. Ed Brubaker. There are a lot of great comic writers out there right now, and the world of comic books is much better for it.

QUESTION: You played Jonn Jonzz /Martian Manhunter on Smallville. Would you like to transition that role to voiceover for animation?

PHIL MORRIS: Carl (Lumbly) did one helluva job as Martian Manhunter for the Justice League series, and he hasnt lost a step for this film. I dont think hes going to give up the role without a fight, and I have a total respect for Carl and his performance. It would be wonderful to do Jonn Jonzz as an animated character, as I did on Smallville. Well see. They keep me busy over here.

QUESTION: Youve recorded a full library of characters for animation, including many in the super hero realm. What character does your inner geek still crave to voice?

PHIL MORRIS: Ive been doing a voice for the Black Panther, but Im not playing the Panther. They got Djimon Hounsou, and hes terrific. But I would love to play the Black Panther. I wanted to play Green Lantern in this film. Im an African American actor, but I dont want that to matter at all. I think you should be able to close your eyes and voice any character, whether hes African American or Anglo or Latino or Asian. Thats what I love about these great characters. Id love to do the Silver Surfer, too. But for DC, Id love to do a version of the Batman. I know Kevin Conroy IS Batman, and I love Kevin to death. But I think every actor who knows comics and loves comics would jump at the chance to do Batman. I think each of us would want to bring his own take to that darkness, to that inner turmoil that is Bruce Wayne. So it would be Batman. Kevin, I love you, but give me a one-off!

QUESTION: You frequently work in both the live-action and animated worlds. Whats your favorite part of doing voiceovers?

PHIL MORRIS: The best part of working in voiceover is the people you work with. I was very surprised when I first came into this world that the actors were so talented. They werent just people who did funny or clever voices. They are very intelligent, well-read, well-spoken, funny actors, and you get into that room and they cut it up and THEN they go to record and theyre suddenly the most evil or heroic person on the planet. Then in between takes theyre jokey, jokey, jokey. Their wit and their imagination is unparalleled. I really have a great time working with whomever I work with from the voiceover community.

Click here to view the trailer for Justice League: Doom. Additionally, view the above interview at the The World’s Finest Justice League: Doom subsite.

A co-production of Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Justice League: Doom animated feature debuts February 28th, 2012 on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video. Further details are available at the The World’s Finest Justice League: Doom subsite.

Similar to the Batman: Year One animated release, Warner Home Video will also allow a one week-early window to legally download Justice League: Doom starting February 21st, 2012.

Stay tuned for further updates here soon at The World’s Finest.

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