The Bravest & Boldest: Will Friedle

While last weekend's episode of Cartoon Network's "Batman: The Brave & The Bold" carried the ominous title "Fall of the Blue Beetle," actor Will Friedle should have no worries about living on throughout the animated DC Universe in whatever incarnation it mutates towards next. Although his most recent gig came in the form of playing new Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes, Friedle remains best known amongst comics fans as the voice of Terry "Batman Beyond" McGinnis from the 1999 - 2001 animated series, and has also provided voice in projects including "Justice League," "The Batman," and the recent "Batman: Gotham Knight" animated feature.

When asked whether or not it's strange to stand in a recording booth next to a new voice of the Dark Knight, Friedle told CBR News, "Frankly, I love it. I'm a big fan of the whole DC Universe, so being able to play a whole bunch of different characters from that genre is something I'm a fan of. And every Batman incarnation kind of requires a new Batman. So this one being a bit lighter and towards the comedy side couldn't get anyone better than Diedrich Bader. He's just perfect."

The actor even joked of a team up between himself and his Bat-colleagues past and present. "One thing we have talked about that we'd love to do is get everyone together for a photo," Friedle said. " I think that would be a lot of fun, getting the Batmen together. Maybe someday that'll happen."

These days, Friedle remains focused on playing the Latino teenager Blue Beetle, who made a splash within the fan community over the past two years (if not the sales charts), and the actor explained that going back to playing a "green" hero in the bigger DC tapestry was as welcome change of pace as is the "Brave & the Bold" series. "From an acting standpoint, we work with one of the best director's in animation in Andrea Romano, so you're directed very well," Friedle said. "For getting into the character, I loved the fact that it was a relatively new character that hadn't been established yet, because then you could try and play with the voice a little bit and decide what you're going to do. In a way, it's harder to step into the shoes of a character like Batman that's so well established, as opposed to a new character that the fans really love. 'Okay, now let's put a voice to him.' That's easier than taking up the mantle of a superhero that's been around for 50 years."

In particular, Friedle has dug into Jaime's choice comedy moments with relish, which fit in well with his background in network sitcoms, including a starring role on "Boy Meets World." "I'm a big comedy guy, and my first love will always be making people laugh," he said. "Being a character that can be funny while still being serious is an awful lot of fun. Even 'Batman Beyond' didn't have that much levity to it, and 'Gotham Knight' was very, very dark. So to be able to step back and know that you're still playing a superhero but that it's the light, witty superhero like Flash from the Justice League where you can throw some comedy in there, I love it."

On the more challenging side of the character coin comes the task of a Caucasian actor pulling off the part of one of DC's few Latino heroes in a seamless manner. As voice director Andrea Romano told CBR when the series launched [LINK: https://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18833] honoring the character's roots was a prime concern in casting, and Friedle believes he does justice to Jamie Reyes and his community. "The accent that I use is very subtle, and I know the one thing we wanted to do, and especially DC wanted to do, was to make sure that we were honoring Jaime's Latino heritage," Friedle explained. "So the last thing I wanted to do was go in with a very cartoony impression of a Latino voice. We didn't want to be disrespectful in any way, shape or form, so mine is very light and subtle just so you remember that he is from Texas."

Friedle continued, "One thing that's so great about this incarnation of Batman is bringing that '50s style of animation that is so vibrant as well as something little kids can watch. It's more of a light version of the show that's more action than violence, and they've made every possible concession to make sure that this show is for everyone, right on through to the kinds of voices where you don't want to alienate anybody. You want people to be able to just sit down and enjoy the show."

Enjoyment appears to be the watchword for the cast and crew of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." With a relatively smaller set of actors bringing the team-up show to life, side and supporting characters get passed around between the assembled talent with an eye on keeping the viewers locked into the story while not playing "Who's Who" with the actors. "In the Christmas episode, I did about five or six voices," recalled Friedle. "It's always fun to sit back and say, 'Oh wow! I played a bunch of different characters in this one!' The coolest time I ever had doing that was in an episode of 'Batman Beyond' where Batman was interrogating somebody, and I was playing both Batman and the Joker he was interrogating. I got to do the whole scene myself! There are guys we work with like Johnny Dimaggio and James Arnold Taylor and Diedrich who all are so good at the multiple voices, where I just get to sit back and watch these guys play ten different characters. It's crazy."

CBR News will present chats with both James Arnold Taylor and John Dimaggio later this week as part of our "Bravest & Boldest" series, but until then, check Cartoon Network for replays of "Fall of the Blue Beetle."

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