It was 25 years ago when Dana Delany first began seeking out the Man of Steel's secret identity, now Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Superman: The Animated Series with a fully remastered Blu-ray box set. Following the smash success of Batman: The Animated Series, producers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett gave us brilliantly written animated tales of the Man of Steel that set the standards for storytelling, art direction, and acting performances.
Known for her roles such as Colleen McMurphy on China Beach, Josephine Marcus in Tombstone, Delany is currently starring as Edith Roosevelt, wife of Teddy Roosevelt, in The American Guest on HBO Max. Before being cast as Superman's girlfriend Delany had already voiced an iconic character in the DC Universe as the voice of Andrea Beaumont, Bruce Wayne's love interest, in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Delany has appeared in 54 episodes of Superman: The Animated Series as Lois Lane and has reprised the role in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series, The Batman animated series, and multiple Superman video games. To promote Superman: The Complete Animated Series Delany recently joined Bleeding Cool to talk about how she landed the role of Lois Lane, playing strong female characters, and what the ace reporter meant to her growing up.
Let's talk about the 25 year anniversary of "Superman: The Animated Series" and how you got the role of Lois Lane, but we need to rewind the clock a little bit and talk about "The Mask of the Phantasm" and your role as Andrea Andrea Beaumont. How did you get the role of Andrea, and did it lead to Lois Lane?
Dana Delany: What happened was Arleen Sorkin, who is a very good friend of mine who played the role of Harley Quinn, I think it was written for her actually by Paul Dini. So she suggested me to Paul Dini and they just offered me the job, which is kind of amazing because I've never done animation before. That was a whole new world for me, but I lucked out because it was the same people. It was Paul Dini and Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm and then Andrea (Ramono). The thing that struck me was they wanted it to be like a real movie, to be very real. They didn't want any kind of comic book voice acting. They wanted to be very human, very real. So it was a great kind of entry into that world. Then when they decided to do Superman: The Animated Series, I auditioned for it. I didn't just get the part. I had to audition for it. When I read the script, it was so clear to me that this is just a great show. The writing was so snappy and so classic, and it reminded me of His Girl Friday, the Rosalind Russell part in it. And that's kind of how I wanted my character for the audition. I remember, kind of snappy, fast-talking broad. When I went to do the audition, it was just exciting to be able to say Dana Delany auditioning for the role of Lois Lane. I grew up a Lois Lane person. She's part of my DNA.
This is the beginning of the renaissance of big-name, live-action actors coming into voice acting. You mentioned that was the first time you had done voice acting. Was it an easy transition for you to go into the booth and just act normally as if you were on screen?
DD: Yeah, it's actually really exciting because we never got to do radio theater, it felt like a radio play. I imagined that I was doing Mercury Theater with Orson Welles. I also love the fact that you didn't have to get dressed up or put makeup on. Just go to the studio. And you get to meet all these amazing actors. I would walk in and it was my childhood idols there in the room. I got to meet Malcolm McDowell, and Affrem Zimbalist Jr, Shelley Fabares, and Ed Asner. They were all so great and everybody was there just they were all ready to play and they all had a great sense of humor. It was a ball.
Did you have any influence from previous Lois Lane voice actors like Joan Alexander or Sharon Farren?
DD: No, as a kid I grew up watching the TV series in the 1950s. I started watching that when I was like four years old, and I remember it vividly, I would come into nursery school and watch it. My image of Lois Lane was Phyllis (Coates) and then it was Noel Neill. That was my image. Then every Sunday, I would go to church and my reward was to go to the drugstore and get a comic book for 10 cents. Back then Lois had her own comic book, so I would always buy the Lois Lane comic books. So I had my own vision of Lois Lane from an early age.
Now your name is synonymous with the character, much like Phyllis Coates, Noel Neill, and Margot Kidder. Does now having played that role manifest destiny?
DD: I think so. Andre Romano remarked, I had forgotten that, but on my first day shooting Lois Lane, evidently, I started crying, which I do now remember because she was an idol for me. She was somebody that I looked up to and certainly had modeled a lot of my life over. I grew up being raised to be a career girl, and that's what Lois is.
She's intertwined with your career life so much now. What's it like when younger fans of Lois come up to you to tell you how much Lois Lane means to them?
DD: I think it's great. I feel like every generation has the Lois of their time, and Superman keeps evolving for the time that they're in. I think what lasts about the animated series is that Bruce Timm was so smart in creating a look and feel that was timeless. It lasts and it's still relevant today. It had a bit of a retro classic feel, but it was also present-day and modern, and the music is classic. The dialog is classic. It doesn't. So I'm happy that whatever we did at that period, it still works today.