Injustice 2 Interview with George Newbern at SDCC 2016
Our roundtable for Injustice 2 continues with the most iconic superhero of them all, Superman, who is voiced in just about all forms of DC Comics media by George Newbern.
George Newbern has had a very interesting career as an actor. While some will instantly recognize him from various DC Comics properties, others will know him from Father of The Bride (and part 2), and even more will know him from his current show Scandal, where he plays an assassin named Charlie.
Superman has gone through quite a few changes since his initial inception, and some don’t feel that it is keeping to what the essence of Superman is or should be, especially given the fact that Superman has killed recently. George sees it as a normal evolution of the character in this day and age. “I guess, it’s just a moral question of a superhero. Do you think that’s ever permissible? But I think as the character has evolved over the years, I think it was the natural evolution. I think they needed to sort of push the envelope, you know. To make him more interesting and more human,. Superman is sort of a Jesus figure, fully god fully man. That’s always the sort of tension between how you relate to him and how it makes him more personal, yet at the same time kind of a divinity. It makes people very uncomfortable, but I think it’s good.”
Although he does feel it is a good thing, George recognizes that it should be for just a minute and not a complete tonal shift for the character moving forward. “Just for a minute. You don’t want to live there all the time. It’s like Saturday means nothing if you don’t have Monday through Friday. As an actor, my whole life I’ve had an open schedule, just let me just have one day of work, so I know that thursday means something.”
Speaking of morally ambiguous characters, George Newbern plays a huge variety of characters, and getting into the process of channeling the Injustice 2 version of Superman was an interesting question to delve into, which posed its own challenges. “The game, doing the games for Superman are pretty different from doing the animated stuff. There’s really no beginning, middle and end. From a performance standpoint, there’s just little chunks,” George Newbern added. “Little bits of moments. To be able to thread the moments together is not my job. I don’t know how the player is going to create, and I don’t know where the creators of the game want it to end up. So most actors are kind of going in a little blind. You just have to concentrate on what’s in front of you.”
Acting in general, is such a unique job because the actor generally doesn’t have that much say into how a character develops. This fact is much more complicated with a character such as Superman. Some feel he should be ultra-altruistic, some a god-like figure and others a more flawed god. George Newbern gave us the dish on his mindset as he goes into recording. “I go head first because an actor’s job is to honor what they’ve written, absolutely. If you are doing it and doing it and it doesn’t seem to be working, somebody will usually be like, ‘Yeah that doesn’t feel right.’ And the writer’s will change it,” But, George did add that sometimes he has input on the character. “Or, after you’ve done the three takes that everyone is happy with, ‘Hey can I try one a little differently?’ And a lot of times there a way to ask that without insulting the writer. So that take gets done, and sometimes they take the take that you want.”
Voice acting in a video game has some unique qualities in the fact that games are meant to be played for hours on end, whereas shows and movies are generally watched less frequently. This has provided a unique moment for George and his son, since he plays the game all the time. “My favorite part about it is that my son gets to play the game, and I will hear my voice across the room… And that absolutely makes my day. There’s very few things as an actor that you get to do that becomes integral into your kids lives. [With animation] You watch it once, but with the game I am constantly alive in the other room. It’s hilarious.”
Superman, being one of the most iconic characters ever, certainly brings along some interesting fan interactions. When asked about what people say once they find out that he is the voice of Superman he said, “They freak out. I have had such a weird career. I have played good and bad guys. And I am playing a really terrible guy in a TV show right now. And people are like ugh, you play the assassin. You are the guy in Father and the Bride… You’re Superman…. Then Sephiroth. People, just… their heads melt. It’s fun. I tend to play either really really good or really really bad. Superman is probably like the closest thing to the middle where he gets a little grey in spots.”
You can catch George at the links below and be sure to grab Injustice 2 when it releases sometime next year.
Also, be sure to view our other interviews with Ed Boon (NetherRealm Studios founder) and Laura Bailey (Supergirl)
Ed Boon Interview: http://dualpix1ls.com/2016/07/30/injustice-2-interview-with-ed-boon-at-sdcc-2016/
Laura Bailey Interview: http://dualpix1ls.com/2016/07/29/injustice-2-interview-with-voice-actor-laura-bailey-at-sdcc/