BRAVE & BOLD, FUTURAMA's DiMaggio is on a Hit Streak

Just how good  and versatile a voice artist is John DiMaggio? Here's how the good folks at Batman: The Brave and the Bold answer that question – they didn’t just give him one role, but two. That’s right; he voices both Aquaman and Gorilla Grodd.

But which role did they offer him first?

“It was kind of both at the same time,” he admits. “The voice director of the show, Andrea Romano, has won multiple Emmys for her work. I’ve worked with her bunch of times and she’s just wonderful. At first, I auditioned to be Batman. They said I did fine. Then I find out I didn’t get it. So I asked who did, and she told me Diedrich Bader. Now, that’s great! He’s perfect for the role.

"Then they said they wanted me to be Aquaman, the guy who controls the whales,” and DiMaggio starts doing a dead on imitation of the psychic noises Arthur has made since his Filmation days. “The King of Atlantis and all the oceans!” he shouts. “I was actually quite shocked. Then when we went in and they explained to me what kind of tone the show would have, that it wouldn’t be as dark, I realized that it would a fun take to do. I was all over it.”

Then DiMaggio switches gears, his enthusiasm starting to build like a runaway train.

“I think I did Grodd before I even did Aquaman,” he says. “That was the episode where he was up against Plastic Man and turned everyone into big monkeys, even Batman. Now I’m not quite as familiar with Grodd as I am with other DC characters. The good thing, Andrea was. She said this is the way I wanted to play it. When I got that we just dived in and I just hit it. That character is so much fun. She’s one of the main reasons I’m involved in the show anyway. She brought me in.

“Working on Batman is always great. There’s always a great supporting cast. You never know who’s going to walk in as a guest-star. It’s a blast.

“Actually, working with everyone in there is fantastic. I’m going in Monday to record some more stuff. It’s a lot of fun because it’s such a good group of people. Plus, they have sandwiches. Good ones, too! You can’t go wrong with that.”

His interpretation of Aquaman has it’s unique properties. How he came about it is a story in and of itself.

“It’s just the way he’s drawn,” says DiMaggio. “He’s this tremendous V-shape. You can see his muscles and these incredibly powerful lungs. I just went from there. All I had to really do was lift it up a notch and I had him. I mean I’m a pretty big guy myself, so it all worked out.

“It was so fun just to find that voice. It was a case of them saying, ‘why don’t you go there.’ I’d say ‘All right, but how about here?’ They’d say, ‘That’s good, but what about here?’ Then we suddenly hit it and everyone said let’s go! We just rolled with it.

“It’s so boisterous and playful, yet it’s very regal at the same time. Yes, there’s a bit of cheese about him, after all Aquaman loves to tell stories about himself, but then there are his strength and his power. You can’t mess with him. He really likes Batman, too, which is good because it means more episodes for me!”

One of those coming is an all-musical episode. That’s right, every character in this one is supposed to sing. DiMaggio says he had just way too much fun doing it.

“There’s also a really cool episode coming up with music in it,” he starts. “I don’t know what I can say about it, honestly, but I do sing and it’s really good! I mean think of a bunch of voice actors singing in a room. When we all were approached every one of us went ‘really? We’re singing? Awesome!’ The Dynamic Music Partnership, who wrote all the music, did a fantastic job and were so nice to work with. We all had a really good time.”

Of course, one particular question had to be asked. Last week Fox announced Futurama is returning to Comedy Central (and maybe Fox itself) in 2010. That series includes the role that made DiMaggio the hottest voice actor in all the universes, that hard drinking, robot prostitute loving, backstabbing “best friend” of Philip Fry, Bender.

“You know what? It’s the greatest thing ever. It’s simply the greatest thing ever!” DiMaggio shouts triumphantly. “ Futurama is the show that just won’t die. We’re the Rasputin of cartoons, baby! They keep on killing us and WE…KEEP…ON…COMING…BACK. [He then switches to Russian accent] You try to poison? That does not work! You try to cut my ****** off? That does not work. I will come back! [Switches back to his real voice]. It’s ridiculous!

“Watch your pockets and your female prostitute robots. Bender is back!” says DiMaggio, with a bravado that is truly contagious. “And this year’s Comic-Con is going to be ridiculous for me. It’s going to be like Woodstock for me. I got a bunch of things going on. It’s crazy. I mean Batman’s happening. I got Futurama. I got Penguins of Madagascar. Chowder might be coming to a conclusion, but I hope the guys at Cartoon Network change their mind because it really is a great show. We’ll see what happens. I’m doing two new cartoon shows for Cartoon Network, Generator X and another show called Adventure Time. I got a lot of things happening, and there’s still Gears of War. It’s going to be a pretty good year.”

In other words, it’s probably a good thing the guys at WB Animation got DiMaggio for two roles last year. The way this man’s going, he’s got about 200 more of them coming to a TV set near you.

And, as Bender would most definitely say, that’s a good thing.

DiMaggio will be Grodd in the Friday, May 20th episode of Brave and the Bold. You’ll hear how he sings as Aquaman this July.


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