Will Friedle chats about his time in the Batcave;
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series on DVD Tuesday, November 23

Will Friedle took a futuristic Dark Knight in altogether new
directions as the voice of Terry McGinnis in Warner Bros. Animation’s
breakthrough 1999 series Batman Beyond.

The popular voiceover actor took time last week to speak about his
days as the new Caped Crusader in preparation for the Tuesday,
November 23 release of Batman Beyond: The Complete Series, a nine-disc
limited edition DVD set that presents nearly 20 hours of animated
action spread over 52 episodes, as well as including all-new bonus
featurettes and a 24-page, 8”x 12” collectible booklet.

Batman Beyond: The Complete Series centers on Terry McGinnis, an
ordinary teenager … until his father is mysteriously murdered.
Suspecting foul play at his father’s company, Wayne/Powers
Corporation, Terry meets Bruce Wayne and learns of a secret identity
hidden for decades. Now too old to don the cape and cowl as Batman,
Wayne refuses to help – so Terry does what any brash young kid would
do: steal the Bat-suit and take matters into his own hands! Vowing to
avenge his father’s death, Terry dons the high-tech suit tricked out
with jetpacks, a supersensitive microphone and even camouflage
capabilities in search of his father’s assassin.

The all-star production team was headed by executive producer Jean
MacCurdy and producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami and
Paul Dini. Writers on the series included Burnett and Dini, as well as
Stan Berkowitz, Bob Goodman, Rich Fogel, Hilary Bader and John McCann.

Friedle made his mark in live-action television and film from the time
he turned 10, starring in hit series like Boy Meets World and Don’t
Just Sit There. He gradually shifted his attention to voiceover work,
taking the lead in Batman Beyond and co-starring in Disney’s Kim
Possible to name but a few. Today, he primarily stays behind the
microphone, voicing such notable roles as Doyle on The Secret
Saturdays and Blue Beetle on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Here’s a brief Q&A with Mr. Friedle …

QUESTION:
When you think back on all those Batman Beyond sessions, what are your
favorite memories of recording the series?

WILL FRIEDLE:
This sounds like a cheesy answer, but working with Andrea (Romano) is
just the greatest experience. Every week you go in and it’s amazing
and fun. You just never knew who the guest cast would be. My favorite
was  recording Return of the Joker. Sitting between Kevin Conroy and
Mark Hamill for five days was pretty incredible. I learned more about
being a voiceover actor in those five days than I did in the five
months before that. Just watching the two of them work – how Mark got
so into the character, completely losing himself in that role. And
then there’s Kevin with that deep, booming voice, always sitting with
his back straight and working perfectly with the microphone. It was an
education.

QUESTION:
Do you have a favorite Batman Beyond episode?

WILL FRIEDLE:
There was an episode called “Out of the Past” where it’s Bruce Wayne’s
birthday and as a birthday present Terry takes Bruce to see a new
play, “Batman: The Musical.” So there’s Bruce sitting in the audience,
watching these people in costume jumping on stage, singing about the
Dark Knight, and Terry’s right behind him humming the songs. And Bruce
just hates it. Seeing Bruce Wayne watching “Batman: The Musical” was
pretty funny.

QUESTION:
Were you a fan of Batman: The Animated Series before you were cast for
Batman Beyond?

WILL FRIEDLE:
I have been an animation fan my whole life. Love cartoons, always
have. But I thought Batman: The Animated Series changed the whole
ballgame. Every generation thinks they grew up with the best cartoons
– I had Thundercats and Transformers, shows like that. Very bright,
and the acting was very big. But then Batman came out and there was
nothing cartoony about it. The acting was very real and the overall
feel of the show was dark. It was like nothing you’d seen before, and
I was a huge fan of the show. This was pre-Tivo, so this was one of
those shows where you had to see it every day. You didn’t want to miss
an episode. So when I got a call to be the voice of a new Batman, and
the series was being made with the entire team that did Batman: The
Animated Series, well, that was huge.

QUESTION:
You spent a lot of time with Kevin Conroy over the course of the
series. What was that experience like for you?

WILL FRIEDLE:
First of all, Kevin is a classically trained actor. He’s very
professional. I’ve had the good fortune of working with several
characters like that, but I’d never done an animated series before,
and I was kind of slumped in my chair saying my lines. And Kevin
started giving me tips. Simple things, but things that really make a
difference. For example, he had me sit up straight, and showed me how
that helps open your diaphragm naturally. Little things you look for
in an actor of his caliber like the right ways to play to the page,
the right ways to not pop your P’s. He was nice enough to take me
under his wing and teach me, and I’ll never forget him for that.

QUESTION:
What set Batman Beyond apart?

WILL FRIEDLE:
To me, it always goes back to the writing. Batman Beyond was so strong
that you couldn’t wait to get the script for the next week. The
character development was outstanding – from the new villains they’d
invent to the way they brought back the old villains. And the way they
treated Terry and Bruce, and their relationship. The casting was
phenomenal, but even the greatest actors can’t make bad writing good –
so it all comes down to what was on the page, and that’s where Batman
Beyond became a great show.

QUESTION:
How important are super heroes to you?

WILL FRIEDLE:
I love super heroes, and Batman was always my favorite. I was never a
huge Superman fan. I like the idea that Batman was just a man. He
doesn’t have super powers. As you’re reading comics or watching
animated series, I think you normally gravitate toward one or the
other. But for me, it came down to this: Superman had to come from
another planet to save us. Batman said “Look what we can do for
ourselves – with our heart and mind and soul, we can save each other.”

QUESTION:
Why are super heroes important to society?

WILL FRIEDLE:
I love to read. I’m a voracious reader. I think the super hero genre
is really our modern day Greek mythology, These are our gods; this is
Homer writing the Iliad. We’ve got super heroes; they had gods. From a
literary standpoint, this is the next generation of mythology. From a
fan standpoint, with authors like Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
and even the Harry Potter series, a great fantasy book just takes you
away. You can disappear into an entire world where you can forget what
is going on in your world. For kids, I think it teaches a sense of
right and wrong. For the most part, these stories are tales of good
vs. evil. That’s important for kids – to see what is good and bad, and
how it can be fought without violence. And just for the fun of it all,
who doesn’t want to get lost in a great book or series?

QUESTION:
So now you’re back in the super hero realm – and Batman’s universe –
on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. How do you like your role as Blue
Beetle?

WILL FRIEDLE:
Blue Beetle is a ton of fun to play. I wasn’t totally familiar with
the character, but I studied up for the role quickly. It’s been tricky
because we wanted to make sure that we played to Jaime Reyes’ heritage
– as he is the first real Latino super hero – but we didn’t want to do
a cartoony Latino voice. But at the same time, you also have to make
him Hispanic. So there was more riding on this role. Terry could be
created in any way, shape or form. Jaime had already been established.
It’s not a heavy character, but there’s more of a history. So to step
into a world that’s already established was more difficult than
creating a character from the beginning.

QUESTION:
You’ve been solely focused on voiceover roles for several years. Are
you no longer interested in on-camera acting?

WILL FRIEDLE:
I retired from on-camera work at 30. Plain and simple. I started
acting on camera when I was 10, so it had been 20 years. I really
enjoyed it, but the on-camera side of the industry isn’t as fun
anymore – it’s definitely not the same as when I started. I‘m now more
established in the voiceover world, and I get to do it in a far more
fun, more fulfilling way. I think I went out on a high note. I was
still doing films and television series and I thought I’d rather walk
away when it was my choice. I know you’re never supposed to say never,
but I can pretty much say never to on-camera again.


QUESTION:
What’s the best thing about playing a super hero?

WILL FRIEDLE:
At the time we were doing Batman Beyond, I thought the coolest thing
was telling my nephews I was Batman and not being lying to them. One
time, my oldest nephew Huck came out from Brooklyn. He pulled me aside
and said “Look uncle Will, I want you to know I’m six now. I think I’m
old enough to see the Batcave.” He actually thought I was Batman,
which is very cool. It can’t get much better for an uncle.