Son of Batman, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, out on Blu-ray on May 6th, is the landmark 20th entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe animated original movies. In the film, Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) learns that he has a son, Damian (Stuart Allen), whose mother is Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin), the daughter of one of Batman’s most dreaded enemies, Ra’s al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito). Together, the two form an uneasy alliance to try to stop the criminal enterprise of Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson). Also included in the voice cast are Sean Maher, David McCallum, Xander Berkeley and Fred Tatasciore.
While at WonderCon to promote the film, Berkeley, who voices Dr. Kirk Langstrom, spoke at a roundtable interview about how unqualified her feels with his Batman knowledge, what voice director Andrea Romano brings to the performances, the version of Dr. Langstrom in this story, and what attracted him to animation work. He also talked about his time on 24, as George Mason, and why he enjoys doing the TV series The Booth at the End. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
XANDER BERKELEY: I feel terribly unqualified to be in this room because I don’t have volumes of Batman comic books committed to memory.
How much do you really need to know, to be able to play one of these roles?
BERKELEY: Well, if you’ve been an actor for a very long time, like I have been, and Andrea [Romano] is such a brilliant director that she knows the voice in her mind and the actor who can bring a three-dimensional quality to a character that’s otherwise in a two-dimensional realm, her meticulousness with the details, as you’re going through it, eliminate any concerns you might have. We come together and read it and bring it to life, and then they animate it. And then, we come back in and do ADR, post and looping to fix little glitches or adds the grunts and groans and impacts. She’s so meticulous that you just feel completely in good hands.
Did you actually get to play the Man Bat creature, in this version?
BERKELEY: I did not. Dr. Langstrom is the provider of the serum and inventor of the Man Bat. He is motivated to do so by his daughter being held captive by Deathstroke.
Would you like to play the Man Bat?
BERKELEY: I always enjoy a good monstrous turn. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed when I kept reading to the end of it and there was no transformation. No. It was fun to do it, anyway, and to bring humanity to it, an intelligence, and a concern for the daughter. You try to give the genre what it needs, the same time as being a real person.
Was there anything that surprised you about this process?
BERKELEY: Not that I recall. I’ve done a lot of things since then. What I look forward to is being surprised by the end result of what the animators did to bring it all to life.
BERKELEY: I was attracted to animation, from the beginning, for the same reason that I was attracted to acting. I love transformation. I love taking on a different persona and having an audience not know that I’m that guy from that other thing that they saw before. It’s fresh and new. With animation, you get to be a whole different physiognomy. You can transform your voice. I love looking at the drawing of the character and going, “That’s it!” That’s what I did with Langstrom, as well. I saw the image and said, “I get who this guy is.” It’s instinctive and really fun.
You went out in such a blaze of glory on 24. Was that a satisfying ending for you?
BERKELEY: It’s interesting, Joel [Surnow] had written the character as a guest star in the pilot. I met my wife on the show and was happy to be written into more episodes. It worked out because he enjoyed writing for the character and what I brought to it. I was doing other things that year, as well. And then, he offered me a series regular role, and I had always been scared of commitment. I love doing movies, and I was a little bit cagey about committing to a series. So, he said, “What if we agreed to kill you.” I said, “That sounds exciting.” He said, “Become a series regular for one season. We’ll get you inhaling airborne plutonium in the first episode or two, and you’ll have 24 hours to live.” They didn’t know when it was going to result in my demise, but it was inevitable. And they were getting very tired of the bomb storyline, so it was two birds with one stone. It happened a little bit sooner, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to exit the show.
BERKELEY: Yeah. Noel Bright, the executive producer, is eager to get back into it. It’s just a timing thing because I’m doing Salem now, and the wrap date on that keeps pushing back. So, it’s unclear when we’ll be able to, but we really want to. I love that show. We want to make sure we up it and make it better, the next time around, instead of just repeating it. It’s so magical, we don’t want to wear out its efficacy by just turning it out.
Would you want to break the formula and actually leave the setting, or do you think it’s essential to stay at the booth?
BERKELEY: That’s been a big subject of conversation. I could see very interesting ways out, but part of what’s so exciting about it is that it explores the vast and endless real estate within the confines of a booth in a diner. I think that’s what makes it special.
Son of Batman is available on Blu-ray on May 6th.