The Superhero-inspired animated comedy series Supermansion made a huge hit at NYCC. The comedy animated series is directed and produced by Zeb Wells (creator & voice of Robot Chicken), Matthew Serich (Robot Chicken) and co-produced by Academy-nominee actor Bryan Cranston (Malcome in the Middle, Breaking Bad).
The Emmy-nominated stop-motion animated comedy series returns to NYCC 2018. DC Comics News was humbly able to join the voice-acting stars Bryan Cranston, Breckin Meyer (Robot Chicken), Gary Anthony Williams (Whose Line is it Anyway?) and creators Zeb Wells and Matthew Senreich for a fun and exclusive interview. The show also features talents such as Chris Pine (Wonder Woman) as Dr. Divizo, Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland), and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community). What attracted DCN to this is how familiar and close the creators are to DC Comics. Zeb Wells has created a complex and hilarious universe through his short stop-motion animation, and DC Comics have been a huge part of their holiday specials. Robot Chicken has had official 3 full-length burst-out-laughter DC-Official works (warning, not for under 14 years of age).
Supermansion carries over several similar qualities. The producers in previous interviews have mentioned hints of inspiration of their characters on the show such as the playboy, brooding billionaire. It’s more of a satire and opposites of superhero tropes. As opposed to “a flawless character” the creators present everything a superhero can be and more.
Interview of Cast & Crew
Questions and answers have been modified for clarity.
Bryan Cranston: [Looking at the 10s of microphones] This isn’t intimidating at all.
The show is very fun to watch. I was curious from a creative standpoint, what was the most fun for each of you in creating it?
Zeb Wells: I think it is here when the actors come in and actually bring the script to life. But then it’s also fun once the actors are done that, then the animators get to take those records and bring that to life. So that might be the most fun when you come back to a stage after the animator has been working, and you see the characters actually moving, that’s pretty cool.
Matthew Senreich: I think adding to that, we always have two sets of actors. And you know, these guys over here [gestures to cast members] we need like 20 shots to get the voice exactly the way we need it to. We have our animators there, and they have one chance to perform and make the vision. The actual visual in that one short, it’s fun.
Zeb Wells: Yeah, pretty much.
Bryan Cranston: I think the most fun is being able to take a mediocre script and build it into gold. That’s always a challenge because you know what you’re going to read on the page is direct. And so…[…]
Zeb Well: So, you’re like Rumpelstiltskin?
Cranston: I am Rumpelstiltskin! I take it and weave it.
Breckin Meyer: It’s funny, Bryan and I talk about that a lot. About how bad the script it. And then, the challenge for us as actors is to rise above the writing.
Cranston: Way above.
Meyer: But it starts down there.
Cranston: To be fair, it’s not that hard.
Meyer: No, no it’s not. It doesn’t take much but that is why we are who we are.
Gary Anthony Williams: I want to disagree with everything they said. Uh…I have a legal issue so that I can only work on this show. So to me, legally speaking, to me, this is the best thing I’ve ever done. Legally, that’s all I can say about that.
This is a follow-up question, what is the process like?
Senreich: Because there are so many characters doing so many things, you’ve got to stick to what the story thread is for the episode. But, you always want to allow the actor to rift if they want to, and then I really think once an actor has come in, and done the character a couple of times, their performance starts influencing the writing which is fun because then the writing becomes more organic and you can hear the character’s voices in your head as you’re writing. So it all sort of influences each other as the story evolves.
This is a question for Bryan. As executive producer, have you ever had to flex your power at all?
Cranston: Well, I think it’s important that people that work for you fear you opposed to respect you. So I try to instill that kind of fear-based energy throughout the course of recording. There is usually at the beginning of every season, I’ll fire someone. And nobody knows whose it going to be. And I think that creates camaraderie and good spirit within the organization because everybody is scared s***less, AND but quite frankly, they (the cast and crew) are really relieved when it’s not them. So I think there is a spree decor that is created.
Have you had any demands that were met, like writing or story choices?
Cranston: You know, this is one of four productions that my company is involved with. If everyone ran like this, we would be dancing in daisies. That’s an actual phrase.
When you’re working on an actor, producer, creator, do you have a particular formula you follow?
Wells: Yeah, I think we try not to be formulaic, and as the show progressed we have so many characters now that are all insane. That when you start trying to plug them into even the most simple story, [and] by the nature of just asking yourself how these characters will react to it? It sort of destroys the formula so that’s been a fun thing to see as the show goes on, for sure.
Senrich: Even as Zeb created this, what I like is that he’s not just created characters but a universe. And I think once you have that Universe built, you can go any direction that you want. And I think that’s where the fun is trying to come up with those storylines, is how do these characters relate to each other? And I think that allows you to break the formula.
What was your rap name again? (To Bryan Cranston)
Cranston: It was Wrapper [pronouced rapper]. With a “w.”
My question is for Liplor (Williams), and Courtney (Meyer). If you characters were to meet Trump, what would they do?
Williams: Um. Normally, my character just on the show eats stone. I would eat Trump. I would eat him and poop him out and that’s not a political thing.
Meyer: No, that’s just for taste. Starburst, it’s perfect.
Williams: Can I say more or no?
Cranston: [Laughing] I am not sure if you should.
Meyer: I don’t even know if Courtney would know the difference between Trump and Obama, he’s so oblivious. He would just be like “whoever can get me into that cool bedroom I heard so much about?” Spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom or something. But I don’t know Courtney is up to date on current politics.
Do you think you’ll ever make a Sweet-Sixty (60) episode for Titanium Rex?
Senrich: A super sweet-60 birthday party?
Cranston: Wow. Titanium Rex, how old is Titanium Rex? He ages slower, so he must be at 180 right now. He’s got his boner pills now, that’s all he needs. Which is NOT part of a true story. I want to be very clear about that.
Do you ever edit the script yourselves?
Wells: Yeah, sometimes you edit yourself. I think there was a character in one script named Snake-Man-Dick. [Cranston: Fortunate name.] And once I read that, one of my thoughts went “maybe we don’t need to make this a puppet, and maybe no one ever needs to hear about this.”
Cranston: Good thing you didn’t tell anybody…
Wells: And every once in a while, Crackle will push back. The last time they pushed back, it was because we made a Blues Traveler joke that was very mean about Blues Traveler. They said, “do we really need to be this mean to Blues Traveler?” And I thought “No, we don’t.”
Cranston: It was a very fast meeting.
Wells: It was a good question! “No, we don’t [need to be this mean]” Let’s give Crackle a win.
Senrich: You realize now every article on us will have that?
Wells: Blues Traveler will be so happy!
For the voice actors, when putting together the voices of each of the characters, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Cranston: To do a voice that’s like the clone of Titanium Rex, I squeeze my scrotum so tightly that all that can come out was a higher pitched voice. A higher pitched voice that you recognize its the same kind of voice. When I do Titanium Rex, I don’t squeeze so tightly. There is a firmness to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a squeeze. I wonder how much problems I’m going to get for all of this?
Senrich: Only if you show the video of you recording.
Meyer: How I came up with my character’s voice is I watched a video of Bryan grabbing his junk and I went “You know how I want to sound like right now?”
Williams: For me, I came in later than anybody in this process, so I always just ask them what does he [Liplor] look like and then just go from there. I will run two or three voices by them maybe, and they’ll just say “no, do more like Bryan. Squeeze your stuff.” And then that’s it. [Kidding aside] I always just ask them what he looks like, and listen to the other voices around us.
Meyer: My thing was with Zeb because we were together on Robot Chicken, not just a robot, Zeb was clear with Courtney. And that was really early on we were just “he’s such a douche.” I was like “HOW ABOUT THIS?!” and Zeb was like “No, no, he’s a super douche, just do your voice.”
Is it more difficult to do voice-over work or regular acting?
Williams: For me, regular. I don’t know more difficult. I think to me voice-over is easier, and every time I hear a voice-over person in real life at this table, “aww it’s so hard!” well I just want to… [points to Bryan].
Cranston: Thank you for that. I would say that, and this is true, for me when I can dive into an actor-character and to fully embody that guy, I feel much more comfortable. I’m probably the worst voice-person on the show. I do Titanium Rex, I squeeze my balls, I get one other voice, and that’s about it. But when you hear a guy like Chris Pine doing Dr. Divizo, it blows me AWAY! Or what Keegan-Michael Key does. And that’s probably all I admire about the voice-actors. Those two guys and the women on the show. That’s about it.
To be honest I do the voice-over work because I think it’s challenging. Despite Gary saying, I think it’s very challenging to be able to tell a story just using your voice. And to convey an emotion, that pinpoints what that character is going through at that moment. I think it is difficult and I’m still learning that. I’m challenged by that and I would like to keep working, you know when we first started with this show 5 years ago, [I told them] it’s all about the story. It’s got to be a strong story, funny yes, but nobody cares if you don’t follow these characters and build empathy for these characters. As silly as it may seem, in animation that is the foundation of the show is to make every story make sense and that you root for these characters. And then when you add the funny to that, then you’ve really got something.
Are there any actors you want to guest-star in your show?
Wells: Micheal Keaton.
Cranston: I was hoping I could get the real Barack Obama on the show.
Senrich: I’ve always wanted to get Michael Peña on the show. He’s just hilarious and we will try.
That about wraps it up. Thank you to the brilliant and rib-cage cracking cast and crew for such a fun interview. Robot Chicken helped me so much through my teenage years, it’s inspiring to see their continued work! As well as a great big thanks to New York Comic Con, ReedPOP, and Sony Crackle for arranging this opportunity.
The cast gave us a goodbye dance.
— SharnaJay (@KatsuyaCrimson) October 18, 2018
And check out the new trailer for the Thanksgiving Special, dropped at NYCC 2018.