Phil Morris Q&A -- Justice League: Doom
It’s great to have these actors back in these roles, but that’s 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, we’re watching and we’re 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.
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?
It feels as though I’ve been doing homework on these characters since I was 7 years old, and I loved being able to tell my mother that I’m 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 don’t 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. It’s a pleasure and an honor.
Which way do your comic book tastes venture these days?
It’s interesting because they always ask the“Is it DC or Marvel?” If you’re a real comic book fan, you had to pick a side. You couldn’t 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, it’s 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 I’m 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 it’s about the concepts and the writing. I’m 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. It’s 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.
You played J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter on Smallville. Would you like to transition that role to voiceover for animation?
Carl (Lumbly) did one helluva job as Martian Manhunter for the Justice League series, and he hasn’t lost a step for this film. I don’t think he’s 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 J’onn J’onzz as an animated character, as I did on Smallville. We’ll see. They keep me busy over here.
You’ve 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?
I’ve been doing a voice for the Black Panther, but I’m not playing the Panther. They got Djimon Hounsou, and he’s terrific. But I would love to play the Black Panther. I wanted to play Green Lantern in this film. I’m an African American actor, but I don’t want that to matter at all. I think you should be able to close your eyes and voice any character, whether he’s African American or Anglo or Latino or Asian. That’s what I love about these great characters. I’d love to do the Silver Surfer, too. But for DC, I’d 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!
You frequently work in both the live-action and animated worlds. What’s your favorite part of doing voiceovers?