At San Diego Comic-Con during the roundtables for Justice League: Gods & Monsters, which comes to blu-ray combo pack and DVD July 28, we sat down with casting director Andrea Romano. Andrea Romano has worked on just about every animated series that was a part of your childhood. Animated series such as The Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, Tiny Toons and is still working on some great animated projects today. In this interview, Andrea Romano talks about casting for Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League: Gods & Monsters.
Q: How do you approach a project like this and how do you keep from repeating yourselves in terms of voice casting?
Andrea Romano: I’m lucky enough that I work for a lot of different studios on a lot of different projects, so I may do ‘Sponge Bob’ in the morning, ‘Boondocks’ in the afternoon, which is completely different right? And so, that’s the way I deal with each of these projects, each project is individually different. We did ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and that was kind of a darker turn on Batman and then we did ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold,’ which is much more light. So this one is special since it’s an original story, which appealed to me a lot because we all got to throw out our preconceived notions of what Batman sounds like and there’s no graphic novel that this is based on. You read a graphic novel and you have an idea of what the voice sounds like, this one, it’s all a surprise to everyone. Casting wise, you look for actors who can act the part. Michael C. Hall is someone we wanted to work with for a long time, ten years at least I’ve been after him. Benjamin Bratt too, the timing worked out and they were available.
Q: How did you get into the mindset of trying to do something that’s original to you and your production crew?
Romano: Every session I do is similar in that my job is to get the best possible performance from the actor, that the producer wants, and that the animation director can then make into a very good looking, logical dramatic piece. I had to get rid of my preconceived notions of what Batman is. He has different issues, health issues and very common problems that everybody comes along with. He just happens to be a vampire. It’s all in trying to get the best performance I can.
Romano: The most difficult is Batman ’cause he was the first. I think I’ve cast Batman about twenty plus times. The first time was the hardest. I heard over five hundred auditions, I directed over one hundred and fifty callbacks, and then we narrowed it down to about five actors. None of them are easy [to cast]. When we were working on [Batman] the animated series, we came up with Harley Quinn, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created that character, so Paul said ‘my friend Arleen Sorkin.’ So that was really easy. They wanted her, I knew she can do it.
Q: Do you ever have a reaction to who they cast in the live-action roles of these characters that you cast in animated movies?
Romano: I like the voice industry so much and I’ve liked the ‘Batmen’ that we’ve used, so much that I sometimes do question the voice work of some of the actors who play Batman. I sometimes wish they would watch our shows a little more and realize that Batman can convincingly be produced vocally without getting so over the top.