It was 25 years ago when Tim Daly first made you believe that an animated man could fly, 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 roles such in Madame Secretary, Private Practice, and Wings, Daly transitioned smoothly from flying for Piper Airlines to flying over Metropolis. His nuanced performance as both a mild-mannered reporter and as the Man of Steel alongside an all-star cast including Dana Delany as Lois Lane, David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen, and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Superman: The Animated Series captured a generation's fandom during the renaissance of modern superhero animation. Daly recently joined Bleeding Cool to talk about how he landed the Role of Steel, meeting fans, and what he thinks of Superman's new catch phrase.
I'm sitting in front of a huge shrine to the Adam West Batman TV show that I loved growing up as a kid. I'd like to know who did it for you, what superhero or what show set you off when you were a kid?
Tim Daly: This is going to sound odd. I watched the [George] Reeves Superman, the black and white one, as a little kid. That was kind of awesome. I like that Adam West Batman, I like that, too. What a transformation Batman has gone through, because that first Batman was wacky. It was cartoonish. It was over the top, and there were all these tongue in cheek jokes and Batman has gone very dark over the years. Psychologically dark. But that Superman remains the sort of beacon of light and goodness, and I like that about him. I think we need that more than ever at this moment in time.
How were you cast as Clark Kent/ Superman? I know Andrea Romano had a unique way of casting all the actors back in those days, looking for unfamiliar voices. Were you doing something on Wings that got you noticed and into the booth?
TD: I was doing Wings and Chris Lloyd, of Modern Family fame, his wife was on set and she said, 'Hey, how would you like to audition for the voice of Superman?' I didn't really know anything about voice acting, I'd never thought of it. I went in and oddly, I was offered the part in the room. It happened very quickly and I was shocked. I thought it would be a much more extensive, torturous process, as most auditions are.
Before you, there were a handful of live actors. George Reeves, Kirk Allen, most notably, of course, Chris Reeve. But with voice actors, we only had Bud Collier on the new "Adventures of Superman" and Donnie Darko on "Super Friends." So who did you use as inspiration for your Superman voice?
TD: What I was going on script. I'm sure that is kind of like music. You hear a lot of music and if you're composing music, it affects how you write. I didn't go and do a lot of research on what other people did and try to learn from mistakes or copy. I just let it be my Superman and saw it as a blank slate.
I have this theory that the Superman voice acting gig is a lot harder than a live acting gig because you can go from Clark Kent to Superman just by standing up straight or slouching your shoulders. Batman voice actors seem to have it a little easier because there's that gravelly tone they can dip into if they need to. How do you approach playing two different voices for the same character?
TD: Honestly, it's really in the script and it's in the attitude because Clark was written very differently than Superman. I didn't feel the need to change the voice so much as to embrace the attitude. Clark is a little more bumbling, and the most socially awkward. He's not the guy who's out there saving the world and confronting these horrible villains. He's just, as in his description, a mild-mannered reporter. I took that to heart and was hopefully more mild-mannered. He also had that nice sort of flirtation with Lois, which is always really fun.
When you meet fans out in the wild, what does that mean to you when a fan, or anybody really, tells you how much Superman, or "Superman: The Animated Series," means to them?
TD: Well, I'm always shocked, first of all, that they recognize my voice. Pleasantly shocked that it is so meaningful to them. I didn't realize when I was doing the animated series how important Superman was, not just to kids for a Saturday morning cartoon, but to adults. Superman has wheeled his way into the American collective consciousness, and I think he represents something that an anthropologist could probably describe better than me. There's something in us human beings that longs for the attributes that he has. Almost everybody has had dreams, sleeping dreams or active dreams, of flying, having superpowers and of saving people. being able to be a force of good. It's gratifying that people are still clinging to that. As dark as Batman is going, Superman's still just a being who is not vengeful or bitter or angry. He's just trying to help humanity be better.
You are intrinsically tied to the Superman character now, much like Chris Reeve and George Reeves. We talked about Superman evolving over the years so I'm wondering what your opinion on his new saying, Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow?
TD: I like it. Superman has expanded beyond the borders of America, and he's admired by the world audience, so I think 'A better tomorrow' is a beautiful sentiment and perfectly Superman, so I like it.
Superman The Complete Animated Series fully remastered Blu ray boxed set is currently available.