Very few actors can say they've played both Lex Luthor and a Hulk . But this summer, actor Clancy Brown will be providing voices for both of them.For more than 20 years, Brown has been providing the voice of Lex Luthor in the Superman, Batman and Justice League animated television shows, video games and movies. This summer, he returns to play Lex again in Lego Batman: The Movie — DC Super Heroes Unite, which is due from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in May.
This summer will also see Brown's debut as the voice of Red Hulk in the Disney XD television show Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. The show features the team of Red Hulk, Hulk, She-Hulk, A-Bomb and Skaar, and will air during Disney XD's Marvel Universe television block.
Brown has a long list of voice acting credits to his name, including what is arguably his best-known character as Mr. Krabs in SpongeBob SquarePants.
But many his voice roles are associated with comic books and superheroes, such as Mr. Freeze in The Batman, George Stacy in The Spectacular Spider-Man, or Odin in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Others seem to fall in associated genres, like his roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.
That's not to say Brown hasn't also acted in his share of beloved live action movies over the years, from his 1986 role in the now-cult-classic Highlander to his 1994 stint as prison guard Byron Hadley in Shawshank Redemption to his 2011 appearance in the action flick Cowboys and Aliens.
Brown even recently played the role of a live-action superhero in the indie darling film Sparks, which just premiered last month and is currently making the rounds at film festivals.
But more and more, Brown's busy acting schedule is being filled with voice roles. And now that he's starring in two high-profile, "heroic" summer releases, Newsarama talked with the actor to find out more about what it's like to voice such iconic heroes and villains.Newsarama: Clancy, you've been playing Lex Luthor for so long. Has it almost become second nature to do his voice?
Clancy Brown: I wouldn't say it's second nature, but it is like a comfortable old chair that I can settle into without a lot of effort. I really like doing Lex, but as they've moved into the direct-to-video approach for Superman and Batman, I haven't done it as much. They've had other guys do it, and some are better than others. So I don't own the character. But I do love doing it.
When they came to me with Lego Batman, I jumped at it — not only because I love Lex, but also because I love Legos. I have a 10-year-old son, and he loves Legos. And I love the animation company that did it. They do the video games for all the Legos games, from Star Wars to Harry Potter to Pirates of the Caribbean — all those video games. And they're great! They're really good. And they're clever. They have a lot of humor. They have fun with this stuff.
Unlike Star Wars, where there's limited fun they can make of it, they've created this fun little corner in the Lego DC Universe where they're allowed to take some liberties. Everybody's always reinventing superheroes to suit the medium, and I love that the Legos universe has made it their own. Those guys have talent.
Nrama: How do you play Lex? Do you imagine who he is in your mind? And if so, who is he?
Brown: Yeah, I've always thought of Lex as who Bruce Wayne would really be.
Nrama: In the real world?Brown: Yeah. I mean, it was interesting in the game because I was doing Lex's voice with Batman. And in the opening, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are competing for, like, Man of the Year or something. And I thought, this is really fascinating because they have so much in common at this point, because they're very rich, but they got there in very different ways. Bruce is a very rich industrialist who inherited his money. Lex is the self-made man, the genius who made his own fortune. But he's the evil one! It's weird.
But I find it fascinating that in this case, in the DCU, the good rich person is the "old money." The bad rich one is the one that actually contributed to society, the inventor, the self-made man.
Of course, his downfall is his hatred for Superman. His Achilles heel, really. Without that, he'd just be a rich, powerful Man of the Year, and he'd deserve it. Instead, it's like, "darn that alien who came to my planet and started helping people without any profit motive!"
Nrama: What can you tell us about the new Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.? You're the Red Hulk in that show, right?Brown: Yeah, I'm the Red Hulk. It's like a Hulk team. There's Hulk and there's Red Hulk and there's She-Hulk, and there's A-Bomb, and then there's Skaar, who's from another planet.
Nrama: Hulk's son.
Brown: There you go. So there's all these big guys, and we're a team of good guys. But the world hates us, because they think of us as monsters. So we all kind of hang together.
Nrama: What's your character like? What sort of things does Red Hulk say?
Brown: Well, Red Hulk is like... I'm saving these people, but they're all running away because they're scared of me. And I'm yelling at them, "You're welcome! You're welcome very much!" You know? Red Hulk is bitchy like that while Hulk is very wise.
But then, you know, something happens and it makes us very mad and we just smash the hell out of an alien bad guy. It's really fun. And we've had lots of fun guest stars come on.
And Jeph Loeb is there guiding it. I was so nervous around him, because he invented the Red Hulk, and I was doing something he hadn't thought of. I was doing something different from what he'd imagined.Nrama: Was he OK with that?
Brown: Totally OK with it! He was great!
Nrama: What was it you were doing different?
Brown: You'll have to watch the show to see!
Nrama: You seem to do a lot of superhero voice work, and here you're even in the new indie movie Sparks, which is about a superhero. Why does that type of character appeal to you?
Brown: Because it's fun! And also, Lex is one of the first voice gigs I had. And that was run by Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano. And now, they've made themselves into the go-to folks for this stuff. You don't get better than them. And working with quality people like that is very seductive, especially with the cadre of people they get, like Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly and those guys. And the Marvel folks are getting the same caliber of actors in all these new shows they're doing. That makes it fun.
So the roles are fun, the people are fun, and you get to play a wide variety of different characters. So when these guys ask you to do something, you always say yes.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!