Green Lantern: First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie, is set for release July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video.

For Green Lantern: First Flight, Andrea Romano has brought together a pair of voiceover novices in the lead roles, along with assorted veterans of feature film and primetime television, including an 82-year-old character actor whose screen appearances date back to Mighty Joe Young.

Romano has worked on a variety of animated shows including Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, The Boondocks and The Smurfs.

Romano found a few moments to discuss the casting and performances of the voices within Green Lantern: First Flight.


QUESTION: Did Christopher Meloni’s rave reviews as a detective on Law & Order: SVU lead you to casting him as the ultimate space cop, Hal Jordan?

ANDREA ROMANO: Given the age range and the character type, and the fact that he is a very good actor, I thought Christopher Meloni would be the right voice. His voice has a nice strength and honesty to it, and his acting is really wonderful.

This is a role that requires the character to come off as very smart, but he also gets duped when he probably should’ve have seen it coming. That’s a tough tightrope to walk, but I found Christopher so incredibly believable. Every note in his acting was true, and real, and organic, and believable. He had not done much voiceover, if any, but he learned so fast that he sprang forth fully formed. He had it down. I don’t think he ever had a technical problem.

QUESTION: From Broadway to primetime to major motion pictures like Titanic and Milk, Victor Garber has quite the resume. What made him right for Sinestro, and how did you talk him into doing his first voiceover for animation?

ANDREA ROMANO: I have known Victor Garber’s work since Godspell, and there have been several connections over the years. Carl Lumbly played J’onn J’onzz for us on Justice League while he was doing Alias with Victor Garber, and I tried many times to hire Victor to do an episode with Carl as a fun crossover – but he was never available. I had met Victor a few times and I met him again at Diedrich Bader’s surprise birthday party. We spoke about him coming to work for me again, and this time his schedule worked out.

Sinestro needed to be elegant. There are many, many different Green Lanterns – some females, some male, some alien, some looking more human. They’re all different. This particular Green Lantern – Sinestro – is a bad guy. But we, as audience members, are not supposed to know that he’s a bad guy in this particular film. So I needed someone who could seem egotistical and strong, but not tip us off that he’s got an ulterior motive all the way through the piece.

Victor hit every note perfectly. There was a musicality to his delivery. You don’t even have to tell someone like Victor Garber to do that – he just naturally finds the vocal music and brings it to the character.


QUESTION: Were you at all worried about casting two actors who had not done voiceovers for animation, and having them record together?

ANDREA ROMANO: You would have thought they had worked together for years and years. They play well together, and it was a dream for me. When you’re a casting director, you never really know how it’s going to work out until you’re in the room doing the gig. This was one of those instances where I thought, “I know what the heck I’m doing!” I actually cast exactly the two right actors – they were perfect for the roles. They knew exactly what they needed to do and they did it. And they had fun in the process.

We struck this nice combination of Victor Garber playing this sort of duplicitous, sophisticated, elegant, eloquent guy and Christopher Meloni playing this kind of not necessarily blue collar, but much more down to earth, real guy that your everyman can relate to. Putting them together and having them play off each other was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I sat in that recording session and smiled. They needed me fix and finesse a few things here and there, and explain certain bits of action. But as far as the acting beats, I didn’t have to tell them one thing. For the most part, I just got out of their way – because they knew exactly what they were doing.


QUESTION: Michael Madsen is another voiceover novice, but that voice is made for character animation. What prompted you to cast him as Kilowog?

ANDREA ROMANO: Kilowog is an alien Green Lantern, and we really wanted a voice with texture and character and some edges to it; a voice that sounded gruff and big and strong, but also smart. I did not want someone who sounded like a big dopey guy. For years and years, I wanted to hire Michael Madsen and this was just the perfect marriage of role, actor and availability.

It’s a lot about availability, and Michael is a great example. He hadn’t done any animated roles before Green Lantern, and yet when I finally got him in the room, we found out how much he had wanted to do it and, now, how much he loves doing voiceover work. He loves this whole world of animation, and characters like Batman and Superman.

You need an actor who has an enthusiasm for the project, for the role, and for the process – and Michael was there, in the moment, he understood, and wanted to do more takes than we needed. That is very generous and brought some really beautiful texture. I love those raspy, deep, dark voices – that sound that tells you that there’s been some life experience there, whether it’s been smoking cigarettes or drinking booze or just living. I don’t think I’m the only person that responds to that kind of voice with character. That’s a voice that’s lived.

QUESTION: And how was the final member of your lead quartet, Tricia Helfer as Boodikka?

ANDREA ROMANO: We really needed Boodikka to be smart, sexy and strong. Tricia Helfer was interested and available and we were lucky to get her. She is such a very nice person, and such a good actress – especially for this kind of piece. She really understands it. She’s big in the Sci-Fi world, and she gets it. She plays this character so that you never know what twists are coming. You think it’s very straightforward and then something happens and you’re surprised because she never tips it off ahead of time. She was spot on with her performance and I loved working with her. She was just a joy.