Aquaman is finally getting his due and comes out swinging in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, the latest animated movie from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Aquaman has suffered a lot of scrutiny over the years in the public eye as that “superhero who talks to fishes,” but Throne of Atlantis promises to set DC icon on a new path as a force to be reckoned with as a part of the Justice League in the New 52-era.
Throne of Atlantis adapts a comic arc that pits the undersea nation of Atlantis against the surface world. Unlike the comic, the movie will focus on how young Arthur Curry discovers his aquatic heritage. Raised by his human father, when the movie begins he doesn’t know that he is the heir to the throne of the watery kingdom.
At New York Comic Con I had the opportunity to participate in a round table interview with the always extremely cordial Andrea Romano, Throne‘s Casting Director who shared her thoughts on casting Matt Lanter as Aquaman, which voice actors did she want to bring back to reprise their roles in the animated movie and who is still on her wish list to get onboard for a DC adventure.
QUESTION: As far as the casting process. Matt was somebody you wanted forever, or..?
ANDREA ROMANO: Matt is a really good actor, and you know a lot of these movies are celebrity driven. But the request is to have celebrity voices come in and play them. And because most of them are well-known characters, it tends to be easier to get celebrities, because you don’t have to say, “Well, there’s this guy named Batman, and he’s really Bruce …” They all know who that is, right? But on this one, I just said “I think Matt’s the right guy.” Let’s, and I like to file for the rank and file voice-over actor, if they’re the right actor for us. But then, say no to him because you wanted to get a celebrity voice in there, would be wrong. He was the right guy for the role, and he just acts it beautifully.
QUESTION: What comes in that sense, bringing someone back, or changing up the role?
ANDREA ROMANO: Excellent question. Sometimes it has to do with the art style of the piece. So Warner Brothers Home Video were on animation, and DC Comics say to me, “We want to keep the visual style the same as the last one we did, so will you please try to get the same actors that you had before?” Sometimes that works, sometimes it is not available. We had a really interesting instance on this piece where we wanted Shemar Moore to come back to reprise his role. I mean literally for three months, the entire production period, I tried to get Shemar to come back, and he wanted to do it, and he had such a good time the first time doing it for Cyborg. And I just couldn’t work it out. We had to ship him, get the animation going, and so I had a wonderful actor named Shawn Patrick Thomas, and he did a wonderful job. And then, the animation came back, and we got a message that Shemar’s schedule had suddenly opened up and did we want him to come back? And we did. The directive to me was, “We want to keep the continuity.” So we brought him back in, and ADR’d, so he worked the picture and he did the entire film. And it wasn’t because Shawn did anything wrong, it was just that desire for continuity. So a lot of it is the requests that are made of me, and then a lot of it is sheer availability. Production has to move forward at some point, so I wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. “Can you do a Saturday? Can you do a Sunday? Can you anything?” And we have to just deal with the reality.
QUESTION: What’s it been like working [producer] James Tucker?
ANDREA ROMANO: I’ve been working with him for a long time, now. We did the Brave and the Bold together, and we did a bunch of these films. As you work with someone for a longer period of time, you get a short hand of dialogue. So I pretty much know what James likes and he knows what I like, and what I do best. So we work well together that way. He’s a truly nice guy, a very talented artist and a very good producer. So it’s only been a pleasure. Just a pleasure.
QUESTION: After you cast each movie, I’m guessing the list of who you want to work with changes. So who’s on the list right now that you haven’t worked with?
ANDREA ROMANO: I have so many. Jon Hamm is still number one in my dream list. I was so jealous when I saw an Archer episode and saw that he had done it. I was like, “Dammit, they got him first!”
QUESTION: So, Superman? Batman for him?
ANDREA ROMANO: You know, I think he could do either of them, frankly. I really do. I think he’s that good. I also think he could do comedy, you know. I think he’s just that versatile, and I really would like to have a chance to work with him. And then there’s very obscure, bizarre, strange people that I want to work with, like, laugh if you will, Alex Trebek.
ANDREA ROMANO: I love him so, and I’ve met him several times at like Emmy events and stuff. “I’d just love to have you” and, “Oh! I can do many voices!” I said, “I know! I’ve heard you do it on the show. I hear you playing with voices, and I would …” So I will find something that would be fun for him, and bring him in. Kyle Chandler. I think he’s a lovely actor and I would love to bring him in for something. That list constantly, as you said, it changes, it grows. Sometimes I cross people out. Okay, I got them, I got them. And then sometimes that list is, I like them so much, I want to be sure to bring them back and play something else. So that list is constantly evolving and, and growing and I’m very lucky that a lot of people have their agents call me up and say, “So and so really likes your movies. They would love to come and do something.” We don’t pay a tremendous amount of money for these films, as you can see, they’re not multi-bazillion dollar feature films. So the actors aren’t coming in to do it for the money. They’re coming in to do it because it’s something that their kids can watch. So much of their on-camera work, whether it’s CSI, or Criminal Minds, it’s too gory for their children. Animation, they can watch with their kids. And if they can tell their kids, “I’m going in to play Batman,” suddenly they’re the hero of the household. So, we get a lot of people contact me through their agent saying “I just signed such and such an actor. “They mentioned that they know your work, and they’d love to come over with you.” So, I keep that list as well.
QUESTION: You said that with every time you switch art direction, you kind of have to switch voice actors. Was the switch to the New 52 style of character design forcing you to make a huge switch in voice actors?
ANDREA ROMANO: In some ways. In some instances, yes. In some, no. Really it had to do with what was requested of me, and I do not always know how that decision process goes down. It’s just I’m a freelance director. A freelance casting director. They come to me and they say “We have this movie. Here’s the script. Do you want to do it?” And then I’ll “Okay. Can I use Kevin Conroy?” That’s always my first question. “Can I use Kevin Conroy?” Yes? No? “Can I use Tim Daly?” “Can I…” you know, any of the actors I’ve used before. “Can I use Nathan Fillion?” “Can I…?” And so it’s a matter of them telling me what they want. And I have the right, and I fight, I do, I fight, sometimes. And I say, “Yeah, let me think.” And sometimes I win that battle, and sometimes I don’t. So, it’s again, always my choice, I can always say, I don’t care to make that film then. Because I really think it should be so and so. So I don’t do all of the films.
QUESTION: Is there any particular actor that’s come to you that you were like, “Wow, I can’t believe this person actually wants to do this.” Like, you were actually surprised.
ANDREA ROMANO: Mark Harmon. Way back when, I got a phone call from Mark’s agent saying, “Mark Harmon hears you’re doing this brand new series called Batman: The Animated Series. He’s a huge comic book collector. Huge Batman fan. Will you consider him?” “Absolutely.” Within two weeks, I had him in to play a guest role. And he did a great job. And then he came over to me after the session and said “This was great. Thank you so much. I know my agent reached out to you and thank you for responding. I want to be a part of the series. Meaning, I just don’t want to come in and do a guest role.” And then it just so happened that we needed to cast the Joker, and the rest is history. I really do remember that phone call and just going, “Mark Harmon reached out to me! To do a voice!” I was thrilled. And so, there’s been many people like that, which is just been so gratifying. It’s a wonderful different kind of acting. It requires acting skills. It requires knowing how to act. And then it requires a little bit more energy, so people who do stage work, and Mark had done a couple of Broadway runs, I believe, a couple of things. They make the transition a lot easier than people who have only worked on film and TV, because film and TV is so small. Everything can be this small, and it’s blown up on huge screens. Animation is so much bigger. Stage is so much bigger. It seems to make that transition. So I do like bringing in Broadway actors when I can and anybody who’s got some good stage experience, they tend to make the best transition.
QUESTION: When you get a project, how much in advance do you need the actors as far as when footage parts come in?
ANDREA ROMANO: Well I get the script and instantly start having meetings about what they want casting-wise. Because there’s a lot of us that are in this, including Gary Mariano, who has a really good sense of who’s hot right now, and who’s a good actor to bring in. We all have input. And then we record and sometimes I would say it’s about a minimum of a month to get the whole thing recorded, because of everybody’s schedules. And I do try to do ensemble records whenever I can and get as many of the actors who have scenes together. At least get those actors in a room at the same time when I can. Doesn’t always happen. And then it goes off to animation, and it doesn’t come back for eight, nine months, it just disappears, and I go off and do four other projects. And then come back and watch them go “I have no recollection of this piece whatsoever (group laughter). And then I will watch the rough footage, and then we go back in and fix anything that needs fixing. That’s a good question. Thank you!
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
ANDREA ROMANO: Very nice speaking with you guys. Feels like speed-dating.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis hits Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on January 27th and also stars Jason O’Mara (Batman), Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Shemar Moore (Cyborg), Christopher Gorham (Flash), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Sean Astin (Shazam), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Sam Witwer (Orm) and Sumalee Montano (Mera).