Adrian Pasdar has had a busy career acting in both live-action — you may know him best as Nathan Petrelli on Heroes — and animation, where he's voiced Iron Man and his genius/billionaire/playboy philanthropist alter ego Tony Stark in a number of projects. The latest is Avengers Assemble, a new animated series heavily inspired by the 2012 movie megahit that's making its proper debut (following a one-time sneak preview over Memorial Day weekend) this Sunday on Disney XD.
Following his turn as Iron Man in the translated Marvel Anime: Iron Man and Ultimate Spider-Man, we talked in-person with Pasdar — who also voiced Hawkeye on The Super Hero Squad Show and Captain America on the Black Panther animated project — about his approach for the latest go-around in the role, and whether or not Robert Downey Jr.'s iconic portrayal has influenced his take. Keep reading Newsarama for more from the cast of Avengers Assemble.
Newsarama: Adrian, you've played Iron Man before — how is this show different for you? Given that it's more squarely aiming to be reminiscent of the Avengers movie, which had a very famous portrayal of Iron Man, does that affect your approach at all?
Adrian Pasdar: I think it may have affected it initially, because I'm part of the world that was assaulted by Avengers and Iron Man. I was as much a fan as anyone else. But once you actually get in the room with the script and the people you're working with and the direction you're given, all of that falls away and you're left with a very organic creation of the ingredients that you're dealt. You can come in with preconceptions, but once you put the suit on, so to speak, you're impressions and instincts, insights, ultimately end up taking over. Not how you think you're supposed to be, but ultimately who you are, your perception of what that character would do. That's what guides me.
Nrama: From your own experience and perspective as an actor having played Iron Man before, has your take on the character evolved?
Pasdar: I am the voice of the character. So much of it has to do with the artists, and the writers. I'm really a conduit for them in many ways. I'm simply trying to deliver verbally what the team has assembled. So much work goes into it before I even get there, and then so much work happens after I leave, that it feels a little bit slippery that I would be telling you who Tony is — because there's a tremendous amount of people that decide that.
Nrama: In this show, Iron Man is the leader of the Avengers — how much have you enjoyed that aspect?
Pasdar: Well, it's fun. It's a lot more fun to watch it when it's all done. That's the real reward, to be able to see everybody's efforts. Just working with the gang.
Nrama: And you guys are recording as an ensemble.
Pasdar: We're right there in the room together, it's like staged theater. It's like a radio play.
Nrama: That can be a rare thing for voice acting.
Pasdar: It's a lot of fun. Every once in a while we'll have isolated times where we get in the booth and do stuff on our own, but for the most part, we're all together, and that's the real joy in this.
Nrama: Seeing how much of a cultural sensation and icon that Iron Man has become in the past five years — how much of an attachment have you developed to the character? Do you feel pretty invested? "I'm a part of that."
Pasdar: Yeah. I'm a part of another arm of the revenue stream, for sure. [Laughs.] I feel connected to the work that I do with the guys and girl that we work with. We as performers create this thing, and it's pretty cool. It's fun to be a part of.
It hasn't come out yet, really, so it's hard to tell, My attachment is different than the perceived attachment. I know these guys from Wednesday afternoons, hanging out in our shorts and flip-flops, trying to make this thing come alive. That's my connection to the show.
Nrama: And getting to go to work at a Hollywood job in your shorts and flip-flops is likely a bonus.
Pasdar: One of the greatest gigs I've ever had.
Nrama: In terms of voicing Tony Stark/Iron Man — obviously you're doing your own thing, you're hired to do you own thing, with the performance of Robert Downey Jr. being so iconic, is it almost inevitable that it creeps in mentally? Or is it totally separate for you?
Pasdar: It's as if he never did it at all. I love watching [Downey], but it's completely separate. It's not even close. I can understand the question from an outside point of your view — it would seem like, how could your portrayal of it not be affected by what he did? But that's not the case. It's apples and oranges.
The next guy who is going to be Tony Stark is not going to be influenced by what I've done. We're just stepping into the shoes for a little while. There will be another Iron Man. They'll do it again, and it'll be a new kid. The character's bigger than anybody that plays it.