Last night, I had the privilege of taking part in red carpet interviews at the premiere for the newest DC animated film, “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” which was held at The Paley Center For Media in Beverly Hills, California. Among the guest were stars and creators of the film. One of the stars I interviewed was Sam Witwer (Smallville, The Force: Unleashed), who provides the voice for Orm/Ocean Master in the film. The interview was a very interesting one filled with laughs and great answers as he talks about the film, which comic character he feels is underrated, what his preference is in playing a hero or villain and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The interview was done with a couple of other reporters due to time constraints.
Q: What is it like to be playing Orm?
“I think I’ve been typecast at this point. Everybody wants me to be the bad guy at this point.”
One reporter then mentioned that his good looks helps him be a cool guy, Witwer’s reply was hilarious:
“Well no, you just look like…you’re doing a really hard math problem. You figure the answer out then you lose your cool immediately.”
Q: Do you feel you do live-action acting different from voice acting and if so, how?
“I look way more like a douche bag when I do voice acting. My face becomes a weird face and I flail around and I sweat a lot.”
Q: What about in terms of approaching your character?
“Oh! That stuff I feel is like the same stuff. You research the source material, you want to respect it, you want to honor it because people care very deeply about this stuff and I’m a big fan of this kinda thing. I mean I watched a lot of DC animated films all the way back to ‘Mask of the Phantasm.’ So you want to get that right and you want to research the source material, make sure you have a sense for what people expect and you try to give them that but then you kick your feet off in a certain direction. Hopefully an unexpected direction. Hopefully give some surprise so that it’s worth watching. It’s not just what people are already expecting.”
Q: You mentioned ‘Mask of the Phantasm,’ is that your favorite DC animated thing?
“Well that was like my first. Like I watched some of the ‘Batman: Animated Series,’ but I was there on Christmas day when it came out and I watched it and me and my buddy came out going ‘well that’s as good of a Batman movie as you could ever want.’ Um…so that kind of imprinted on me, I’ve seen it a lot of times since but yeah, I watched ‘Dark Knight Returns’ or ‘Gotham Knight,’ I watched all that stuff, so when they called me up and said ‘Hey you wanna do a DC animated film?’ I was like ‘Yeah!’ So that was about as much deliberation as I needed.”
Q: Can you tell us a bit about what role Orm has in the movie?
“Yeah, he’s a jerk. He’s what we call a jerk. He’s youthful, he is well-intentioned but he is youthful and arrogant and that youthful arrogance and impatience ends up running away with him and he starts making some mistakes and then he compounds those mistakes with like five bigger mistakes, much bigger mistakes. A sort of almost an ego move like ‘No! I meant that. I’m this guy. This is where I’m gonna go with it.’ So um…so things go badly for this guy, they really do. He’s not by the end of this film, what you would term as a ‘happy self-actualized person.'”
Q: Ocean Master is maybe not the greatest and imposing of names. I’m curious, if you had the chance to rename Orm, what would it be?
“Bad water guy…a tall drink of water.”
Q: Aquaman has been really underrated for a really long time and I think a lot of people are starting to come out of the woodwork as fans, are there any other underrated characters you think that should be getting their due?
“Yeah, Batmite. Krypto’s been showing up just fine so he’s okay, very popular, Speedy the Cat but mostly Batmite. I would like to know what he’s like when he’s in his apartment alone. I want to know who he dates, that type of thing.
Q: What draws you to doing genre work versus other work?
“I’ve just always been a fan of this stuff all the way back to Superman because when you take the themes and the problems that people have everyday, and you pump them up a thousand percent, they become superhero, they become superhero stories. They become mythological and they become something that’s a bit more universally digested. So much so that…we all grew up with this stuff right? So, when I mess up, when I do something bad, I feel weirdly ashamed to be fans of the things that I am a fan of because I don’t feel like I’m following what I’ve learned from those stories. That’s actually the truth. It’s a kind of geeky truth but it’s the truth. But I do have a leather jacket to of set that so..”
Q: So are you also a fan of the comicbooks then? Are you a comicbook reader? What are you reading right now?
“I am, yeah. Well I just finished the ‘Batman: Year Zero volume 2’ which was really interesting. I just like what they are doing with the younger Bruce Wayne character. I haven’t read everything Batman but I’ve read quite a bit. You know when I was twelve, it was ‘Dark Knight Returns,’ ‘Batman: Year One’ and ‘Arkham Asylum.’ I know Batman pretty well and it’s interesting seeing new takes on the character or different ideas about the character that I hadn’t quite considered eighty years after the invention of the character. I think it’s impressive. I loved ‘Court of the Owls,’ I loved ‘Zero Year’ was great. I liked the fact that ‘Zero Year’ tried to tally a version of the Red Hood story in this whole notion of ‘ Oh you know, is that really the guy or did they just get some patsy to speak a bunch of lines?’ and it left it open to still buy into ‘The Killing Joke’ version of that story. Which we don’t even know if that’s the really story. The Joker tells so many strange things about his past, you never know what’s imagination, what’s just him having fun, and what’s actually happened to him, it’s all fun stuff.”
Q: You’ve been playing more of a villain than a hero usually. Is it your preference? Would you rather be a hero more or play a villain? What’s more fun?
“I like trying to create complex good guys but I suppose my character in being human, would have been both. He would have been a hero and a villain all at the same time. I find that very interesting. It’s hard. If role is easy, I don’t even really know how to approach it. I’ve never been an actor who got awarded for just like showing up and saying lines, I suck at that. It’s gotta be something interesting or some sort of unexpected little twist that I can get excited about and if I can do that, then I can do a better job.”
Q: I’m curious, how excited are you about the new Star Wars movie? We’re months away.
“You know, progressively more and more excited. I have friends in that company and so I’m hearing a lot of good things and when you hear good things, you tend to get excited. Um…this is the first ‘Star Wars’ movie that we have seen in a long time where we don’t know what’s going to happen. In the prequels, we were like ‘well Anakin is gonna eventually fall in love and have a falling out and become Vader. We knew the outline of the story. This, I could tell ya. I have no idea. I so desperately want to know what happened to Luke Skywalker.”
Q: If you had the opportunity to be in it?
“No I wouldn’t. I’m lying to you. [laughs]. Yeah I certainly would.”
Q: Sith or Jedi?
“Either one. Any opportunity to shed new light on the mystery of the force or the themes of ‘Star Wars,’ it’s always worth doing. So yeah I would. God any ‘Star Wars’ work is always ridiculous fun and huge pressure and it’s always fun.”
Q: What about like a half hour Darth Maul show?
“Yeah, like a talk show. Instead of except the mechanical legs, his bottom half is the desk.”
Q: If you can sit down with your character, what would be the one thing you made sure you got away with learning?
“I’d be like ‘what the hell is your problem? Cause you backed down pal. You can turn back. it’s okay. Come here bring it in, you need some hugs definitely. Take the mask off and give poppi a hug,’ is what I’d say. Then we go get coffee and he would stab me with a trident, which by the way it should be noted that the trident, a little piece of information about the trident, you may want to right this down (points to me), is by my math, three times as effective as a spear. It is a spear…but it has three points. So every time you stab someone, you’re actually stabbing them three times. It’s a three times better weapon than the spear. Don’t go out and buy a spear, buy a trident. They’re working on a ninedent. Which is three times more effective than a spear. You stab a guy and he’s got nine stab wounds to deal with. You think about that. (Points at me again).
Sam Witwer then talked about how great of a creation the spork is and wants a set of silver sporks. Witwer was really fun to interview and it was an all around good time. You can catch Witwer as the voice of Orm/Ocean Master in “Justice League: Thrones of Atlantis,” when it is released on Jan. 27.
I have plenty more for you guys so stay tuned for more interviews with the cast of “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.”