PCU had the unique opportunity to attend the world premiere of Lego DC Superheroes: Justice League–Gotham City Breakout in New York City. The fifth in a series of direct-to-video films from Warner Home Entertainment. Gotham City Breakout is a Lego-style animated adventure where DC’s heroes surprise Batman with a vacation and Superman promises to watch Gotham in his absence. Naturally, one of the standout characters of the movie is the Joker, who keeps Lego Superman busy while the Dark Knight is away.
In addition to attending the world premiere we were fortunate to have the chance to interview two veteran voice actors who’ve both voiced DC Comics’ Joker in the past. First up was John DiMaggio, famously known for playing roles such as Bender on Futurama and Jake the Dog on Adventure Time. Although DiMaggio plays Deathstroke the Terminator in Gotham City Breakout (he tells us that here, “Deathstroke is Deathstroke,” but in Lego form, “his treacherousness is slapstick”) he briefly reflected on his prior experience playing the Joker in the animated adaption of Under the Red Hood.
PCU: What can you bring to the role of the Joker when he’s been done iconically by so many actors in the past such as Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, and Heath Ledger?
John DiMaggio: The beautiful thing about playing the Joker is that it’s similar to like playing Hamlet or Macbeth. It’s one of those great roles that people constantly get to play and reinvent. That’s the joy of being an actor is that you can bring your own thing to it. I mean, I brought my own twist to it. Mine’s actually a lot more of a Caesar Romero kind of a goofiness with an R-rated twist. But I would love to do that again.
We have to ask a “fanboy question.” What would happen if the Joker…met Bender?
DiMaggio: I think the Joker…would get Bender to do a lot of awful, awful things. (Smiles)
Or would that go the other way around?
DiMaggio: Now you got me. It could be. Yeah, they’re both pretty demented, but I think…nah…Joker is the worst influence.
Let’s hope that never comes to pass.
DiMaggio: Yes. Please.
PCU also spoke with actor Jason Spisak (Young Justice‘s Kid Flash and Green Lantern‘s Razer), who plays the Joker in the upcoming Gotham City Breakout and tells us what he brings to the character in Lego form.
What do you bring to the Joker and how do you keep it unique when so many people have done the part in the past 20, 30, 50 years? How do you make your own Joker while still keeping him recognizably the Joker?
Jason Spisak: To me, that is not a huge challenge. The reason is because every human is unique. Just as a human being, I’m not John [DiMaggio], I’m not Mark [Hamill], I’m not any of those guys. I have my own life, I’ve lived it to this point, and I have my own trove of things I’ve seen, the way that I view comedy, the way that I view just my own voice. All that stuff is unique to me. My atoms to this point in the universe. So…the uniqueness of a given performance never enters my mind. All I want to do is tell the story. I want to tell it from the appropriate viewpoint of tone. Because Lego Joker is a light Joker, right? You don’t want to scare the kids. You need to be careful with that. But he also has to be threatening in this world.
So as long as you honor that, and you honor the sort of sarcastic Lego sense of humor where characters tend to make fun of their own archetype, they make fun of themselves. If you’re honoring all that, and then of course, being the Joker, my version of that, in that world. What comes out can’t help but be unique, and that’s one of the freedoms that I really enjoy, especially with the Lego movies, is there’s a big playground of people who’ve played the Joker and a big playground of possibilities. He’s got such a wide range that you can get into and still be in the ballpark, right? So there really isn’t that pressure to me.
Is there any standout moment in the movie you want us to watch out for?
Spisak: Anything with the Joker! (Laughs) No. This movie has a really great opening twist. The Joker, if you’ve seen a lot of the promo posters, has a spoon in his hand, which is called “Spoony.” So the Joker spends the whole time talking to Spoony, because he digs his way out of Arkham with the spoon. It’s this wonderful play where the Joker is talking to himself the whole time, but it’s a different character and that was an absolute treat to create both those voices and talk to myself and really give you a sense of the unhinged nature of the Joker.
But still in Lego form?
Spisak: Still in Lego form. That’s the thing. It’s a creepy but a funny spoon. How often do you get that?
Hopefully Harley Quinn doesn’t get jealous of the spoon.
Spisak: We’ll see. She’s a jealous lady, that Harley Quinn. And she can get jealous of silverware pretty fast.
Stay tuned for additional coverage from PCU on the Lego DC Superheroes: Justice League–Gotham City Breakout premiere.