Cliff Steele is perhaps the quintessential Doom Patrol character. Better known as Robotman, he's been in almost every incarnation of the team over the years, including the live-action Doom Patrol series streaming on DC Universe.
Played by Brenden Fraser, Robotman quickly becomes the best thing on a uniformly strong show. CBR attended a Q&A with the cast of the series in Los Angeles, where Fraser spoke about what drives Cliff, the partnership between him and another member of the cast and what surprised him most about the part.
The Heart (And The Brain)
Fraser first admitted what surprised him the most about the show was that his "narrow white ass made it on the screen." He's not kidding either. His ass is literally how we meet his character. But even though he starts the show in that indelicate position, it's not what defines Cliff, as he's transformed into Robotman in short order.
When told that Cliff is the heart of the pilot, Fraser replies that "the brain" is technically more accurate, and that while his character isn't the smartest man in the room, he is the most level-headed. The first two episodes of the series showcase Cliff having the potential to be a real hero, but that stems from his realization of his past mistakes.
"[Cliff] harbors lot of guilt for his former life," said Fraser. "In case you didn't notice, he's kind of a french shower bag. Look it up. And for his misdeeds, this character sort of goes on this journey. We all do, in one way or another, and his is of redemption, about trying to be a better human than he was when he was a human. And we'll watch him get better at it, even as he's a robot. It's tragic, hubris catches up with him and he crashes the car. His family is shattered. Hilarity ensues. [His daughter] is a driving factor for sure."
Fraser provides Cliff's voice and plays him while he's still human, but not his robot body. That role is taken by Riley Shanahan, who gives Robotman his "Tin Man with super strength" style of stilted movement. Speaking about working with Shanahan Fraser said, "I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Riley, who is not here tonight. He's in Atlanta, at work. He's taking the knocks for me. It's a partnership I share with him."
"It really takes a team to bring all of these characters together," said Fraser. "Riley is a proper actor in his own regard, and you need that physical response behind all of that makeup and gear mech suits to make you believe there's a human in there. And for my part, I kind of just watched him at first, and then the answer was to just stand back and let the writing lead the way, and hope for the best."
Streaming now on DC Universe, Doom Patrol stars Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele, Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, Diana Guerrero as Crazy Jane, Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Joivan Wade as Vic Stone and Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder.