BACKSTAGE - INTERVIEW - JOSH KEATON
The World's Finest caught up with actor Josh Keaton to discuss his role as Green Lantern Hal Jordan in the highly-anticipated Green Lantern: The Animated Series, debuting with a one-hour special in November 2011 before joining the network with a regular timeslot in early 2012. In this brief Q & A, Keaton discusses his background with the Green Lantern mythos, how this project differs from his previous works, and what this series that caught him by surprise. Continue reading for more.
The World's Finest: Cartoon Network is debuting the first two episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series as a preview for the show's upcoming regular run. What are your thoughts on the episode and why does it work as a great series opener and primer on what's to come?
Josh Keaton: You're pretty much introduced to everyone right away without it feeling like introductions. It feels as if these are all characters we know already interacting the way we expect them to and that makes it very easy to jump right into the story. We also see the Red Lanterns which opens up many story possibilities not necessarily having to do directly with the Red Lanterns, and frontier space is established as being so immense that the show can pretty much go anywhere. The writing is fantastic - you'll instantly like these characters and will be genuinely interested in what happens to them.
WF: Without spoiling anything, the first two episodes had more than a couple surprises. Do you have any comments on the scripts that you've been receiving for the show? Do they surprise you?
JK: The maturity of the show definitely surprised me as I would read the scripts. A Green Lantern is offed in the very first episode! People dying doesn't happen often in kids' cartoons and I think it's safe to say that our show doesn't really pull punches. Some messed up stuff happens to people on Green Lantern: The Animated Series but on the flip side of the coin, people rise to the occasion in pretty exceptional ways. And by people I mean beings, not just human beings.
WF: In a past interview you stated your knowledge in Green Lantern lore was limited. What did you do to prepare for the role, and how did that influence your take on Hal Jordan?
JK: I definitely didn't go into this project with the same amount of knowledge about the mythos as I did with Spider-Man. I read as much Green Lantern as I could get my hands on and that time allowed. I though [the comic series] Green Lantern: Rebirth was a great insight into Hal's backstory and motivations and a bunch of the Kyle issues with Hal were useful as well. Seeing his reaction to everything he knows being wiped out was definitely telling as to his character. Essentially, I see him as fearless. He was a bad-ass before becoming a Green Lantern. Although he's seen as reckless, he still thinks things through (albeit at fighter pilot speed) and strongly adheres to his own personal code. He's funny but mainly because he says what we all want to say at the perfect time - I definitely didn't want him to revel in his humor as much as Spidey. And being a military man of a military family, I wanted a certain amount of military bearing to underscore everything he does.
WF: Without spoiling anything, how many episodes have you worked on? How far along is production on this series ... and is it comparable to your work on other animated series. This question may be a bit too far-reaching, but how different (or the same) is working on one cartoon as compared to another?
JK: We're pretty much done with the main records for the show. Right now we're doing pickups and fight sounds which is cool because I get to see some of the animation. Each series is definitely its own animal. There's a different dynamic with every cast/production team even though a lot of the same faces/voices come around. For the most part, the technical process is the same. With shows that are anime based or dubs of an existing cartoon, the process is completely different. Rather than the cast standing together in the room acting out the story radio drama style, the audio is recorded one person at a time to picture and your performance has to be somewhat tailored to fit the existing animation - pace, etc. I'm working on a Nickelodeon show originally from Italy called Winx Club that's like that.
WF: As a semi-follow-up to the previous question, you're working with some voice actors that you've worked with in the past (such as Kevin Michael Richardson). Does having those familiar help ease you into a new project? Is this your first time working with voice director Lisa Schaffer?
JK: It's always great to see familiar faces! Working with actors you've already worked with and enjoyed working with results in a on-mic chemistry that definitely comes across in the show. Many voice actors are friends outside of the studio as well - as are Kevin and I - so we don't really have to work on establishing the characters' rapport. I've worked with Lisa a few times on other projects, but this is my first time working with her as the voice-over ship captain. She's fantastic. And always impeccably sparkled.
WF: To wrap things up, how would you describe the opener for Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Tell us why we should tune in to check out the adventures of Hal Jordan and Kilowog!
JK: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you might even see Kilowog's poozer. It's just like Muppets in Space but with no Muppets. And completely different.