Clancy Brown on the anti-superhero movie 'Sparks' and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
(CBR) It's impossible for longtime DC Comics animation fans not to hear Clancy Brown's voice when reading Lex Luthor's dialogue. A veteran of the DC Animated Universe, Brown is best known as the voice of Superman's arch-nemesis, though he has had many, many other memorable roles, including Mr. Krabs in the long-running "SpongeBob Squarepants" cartoon; Red Hulk in "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H."; Meacham in "Cowboys & Aliens"; Captain Hadley in "The Shawshank Redemption"; Brother Justin Crowe in "Carnivàle" and more -- not to mention his involvement in future projects like "Warcraft" and the animated adaptation of Eric Powell's "The Goon."
This March, Brown adds the dark superhero film "Sparks" to his lengthy resume. Based on Christopher Folino and J.M. Ringuet's Catastrophic Comics series of the same name, "Sparks" follows the journey of potential hero Ian Sparks in 1948 for a neo-noir thriller look at heroes and superpowers. It's a darker take on the traditional hero story, filled with murder, intrigue and the fall of the hero. Brown's character, Archer, is an ex-police officer with major ties to Ian Sparks and the death of his parents -- even saving the young hero's life in a dire situation. But, much like many of the characters Brown portrays, there is far more to Archer than initially meets the eye.
CBR News spoke with the Hollywood veteran about his role in "Sparks" and what drew him to work on the neo-noir superhero film, the "Watchmen"-esque quality to the script and more. Plus, he expounds on the truth behind the "Cowboys & Aliens" film, updates fans on "The Goon" animated series, teases the potential of "Warcraft" as a film franchise and gives his opinion on the recent casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
CBR News: Clancy, you've voiced characters in the DC Universe for years, as well as takeing on roles in Marvel animation. What was it like for you to finally suit up in your own super-costume as Archer in "Sparks"?
Clancy Brown: That was a weird costume. [Laughs] It was a very strange costume, it was that noir-ish, weird anti-costume. It's one of the reasons I like "Sparks." It was an anti-superhero movie.
That noir-ish genre is one you've worked in before -- what was the experience like playing in that genre, but with the added wrinkle of superpowers?
I liked the whole comment that it was making; that these things come at a price, and even though there's superpowers, they're more like gifts that we can choose to use one way or another. We have characters that use them poorly or wrongly, and we have characters that don't know they have [powers], and perhaps some of them aren't exactly the kinds of things you'd necessarily want. I don't know exactly how to put it, I just like the subversive nature of it all -- that anti-glitz, anti-glamour take on it. It had a "Watchmen" feel to it that I appreciated without it being overblown like "Watchmen" was.
Is that what initially drew you to the movie and to the role?
Yeah, it is. When you do these voices, these characters -- either they're bad guys or they're good guys. You're playing into a well-established genre -- the big voice bad guy or the big voice good guy. They're all either virtuous or they're not virtuous, they're sinful. It's very black and white. I like the idea that it's grey, and that superpowers aren't your typical superpowers. It's not you can fly or you're strong or you're a god or you can grow tall -- all the stuff that comes along.
It's why I also like voicing the Red Hulk in "Agents of S.M.A.S.H." It's a much friendlier situation, but that Hulk is one of those deeper characters, one of those more complex characters, who became that way under questionable motive. Even though we don't get into it too much, he's very flawed. ["Sparks"] is a very adult, more adult take on that, I think.
Definitely. Your final scene in the movie is actually pretty gruesome -- when you read that scene and you found out you would have to act like your fingers were getting severed, what was it like to play that scene?
[Laughs] It was fun to do that scene with David Sobolov (Driver), one of the premiere voice-over guys, because we're always just making big voices behind a mic together and this was a time that we actually got to actually really play a scene. In a voiceover booth, there's great freedom because you don't actually do the things that are described in the script. You just kind of auditorially command and create them, try to bring them to life that way. There's a heightened sense of your performance because it's a lot easier physically -- you put all your energy into the voice. Then, all of a sudden, here we are on the camera and you have to do the whole schmear. We really push the scene to the whole limit -- he really put my fingers in his mouth and stuff, which I would never do. [Laughs] It's a good thing that he played that role, because I wouldn't put another actor's fingers in my mouth if I could afford not to. We were just having fun, and we were laughing.
Then, Chase [Williamson] gets to throw water on me, which he had a good time doing, I think.
How many times did you have to get water thrown on you before they got the shot?
Oh, gosh. It was the day to get even with Clancy Brown, so they just did it as many times as they felt like doing it. I finally got up after maybe the dozenth time and said, "I think you got this!" [Laughs]
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