The animated double feature 'Hulk Vs' arrives in stores today. It features an updating of two classic green-giant grudge matches in 'Hulk vs Thor' and 'Hulk vs Wolverine'.
Actor Steve Blum steps into the cross-hairs of Jade Jaws' rage as the voice of the X-Mutant Logan in the film. As we learned in our exclusive interview with Steve, he's no stranger to voice acting, or the character of Wolverine himself.
Rob M. Worley for Mania: I was looking at your IMDB page. You have over 300 acting credits to your name!
Steve Blum: Lies, all lies!
Mania: And this is the fifth or sixth time you've played Wolverine. You've played him in the 'X-Men Legends', 'X-Men Legends II', 'Marvel Ultimate Alliance' and 'Spider-Man: Web of Shadows' video games. Then you're on the 'Wolverine and the X-Men' show, and now you're fighting the Hulk in 'Hulk vs Wolverine'
Blum: Yes, sir.
Mania: Were you a fan of the character before you started doing his voice in animation?
Blum: Oh, yeah. I've been a fan of him since I was a kid.
My very first job was at my grandfather's book story sorting comics, for my uncle in the comics department. One of the very first things was a Wolverine comic. I may have been the Hulk vs Wolverine issue [Incredible Hulk #181].
We'd get comics from different estates, he'd buy a bunch of used stuff and we were digging through that. That was one of my very early childhood memories is reading that.
Mania: Did you continue to read Wolverine and X-Men after that?
Blum: I did as much as I could. I kind of went in and out for years and the older I got the less time I found I was able to commit to comics. But I kind of check in from time-to-time.
And I've always had Wolverine in the back of my head as one of my favorite characters ever. I just love that he was such an anti-hero; really didn't want to take a leadership position, sort of anti-establishment. That was the way I grew up.
So actually being able to embody a superhero vocally with that kind of stuff is a dream come true for me.
Mania: He's a pretty angry guy. What do you do to get into character?
Blum: I just take out all the frustration I've got in other places in my life and let it out in there. I remember driving to a session, which is kind of across town for me and just getting through traffic, instead of screaming at traffic and flipping people off, I would save it, bottle it up and let it out in the studio.
It's great. It's like free therapy.
Mania: In the Hulk Vs Wolverine, I think the first 10 minutes or so of the battle is just you and Fred Tatasciore just screaming and grunting at each other.
Blum: We do in real life anyway.
Mania: Were you in the studio with him while recording, or do your record on your own? How does that work?
Blum: Fortunately I got to work with Fred in the studio. Working with him is really a unique experience. With most other actors it's relatively a safe zone. With Fred and I the arms are flailing and sweat is flying. I think it could actually get dangerous if they put us close enough.
But Fred and I are very, very good friends too, so we were like two little kids in a candy story. Really fun.
Mania: Did you work closely with any of the other actors?
Blum: Nolan North [who plays Deadpool in the film], I was I the booth with. I've know him for a while.
He's just a knuckle head. It's really, really hard to get through an entire session without laughing my guts out and spoiling every line we try to read. So much fun.
And Tom Kane [who plays Weapon X mastermind Dr. Abraham Cornelius]. I don't remember if Tom was there for that session or not, but he kind of comes through as the voice of God when he's working from his own studio, at a distance, so he always kind of feels like he's there watching over us anyway.
Mania: How has your portrayal of Wolverine changed and evolved over the years?
Blum: I think the biggest difference is that I get a lot more backstory and a lot more direction and a lot more time to flesh out the raw emotion of Wolverine by being in the studio and working on the series and on the movie.
The emotion of Craig Kyle, who is the executive producer on the film. He pretty much acts out all of the raw emotion of these characters and is a huge, huge fan. He always has been. He throws a lot of F-bombs around and really inspires us as a group, and individually to get the most raw, feral performances we can.
Throughout the years I've had a chance to really dig into the characters and get every little bit of emotion that's ever been written into Wolverine to be fleshed out on the screen one way or another.
The games are kind of fast food. We just need to crank through those as quickly as possible and get in as many lines as possible. Sometimes we don't have time to dip into the backstory and get that emotion across.
I'm hoping that really plays in the film and on TV, that we've explored even quiet moments of these characters.
Mania: How does the Wolverine from the movie compare to the one that you're playing on the ongoing show? Do you play them the same?
Blum: I think he's the same guy. Certainly the same guy. He's got all the same angst.
I think the difference is that the movie condenses all that feral anger into forty minutes. It was probably the most ferocious sessions we had, certainly physically and possibly emotionally, just because we had to get so much out in such a short period of time.
And that it really grabbed a big chunk of the Weapon X torture scenes and stuff.
I'd say the biggest distinction for me is that I got to go as feral as I possibly can do in the film.
The film does seem like it was more painful. To me that's the victory.
Mania: On the animated show, Wolverine becomes the leader of the team, which isn't a role that he's commonly seen in. Does that make him more or less fun or interesting to play?
Blum: I think that makes him a lot more interesting.
One of the biggest attractions I had in playing Wolverine was just the dichotomy of this guy who has these all of these incredible abilities and he has these leadership qualities but he really doesn't fancy himself a leader. He's very, very uncomfortable in that position. He'd rather just get the hell out of there most of the time.
I really enjoy playing with that. To me it's fascinating. And to put a character in a position where he's completely uncomfortable. I think it's the way to really get a character to evolve, whether its in real life or in a cartoon.
It really allows for some honesty and some depth.
Mania: Is there any Marvel character that you haven't had a chance to play that you'd like to play?
Blum: Oh, man. They've been so good to me I would hate to even say anything. I get to really play around with a lot of different things. In the games I have had a chance to play some of the other ones too.
I don't know. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Wolverine is the pinnacle for me.
Right now I'm a pretty happy boy.
Mania: Would you say he's your favorite character of all the ones that you've voiced?
Blum: Yeah, I'd definitely say he's my favorite character of pretty much everything I've done.
He just has a little bit of every element that I love to play. He's so complicated and so extreme. He's definitely one of the most therapeutic characters that I've ever played. Certainly my favorite. I love so many things about him.
Mania: You make it seem like it was very easy to play him in this movie. Was there anything that was hard to accomplish or challenging for you?
Blum: The only thing that's really demanding for me is the physicality of it. Just because after we do one of those scenes, particularly a scene with Fred, I am just completely worn out.
We scream at a level that I just don't do in real life.
I tense up muscles that I never knew I had. I literally feel like I've been through that battle when it's over. It took me two or three days to recuperate in some cases.
It's very, very taxing on the body. Just that hardcore emotion, the physical tensing. I throw punches. I kick. I grit the teeth. I flex the chest.
All of what you're seeing on screen is happening in the booth for me, whether it's internally or I'm missing Fred's head by inches. We're actually going through that.
Fred has expressed that too. It's literally like going through a battle.
That to me is really the hardest part. Mostly the recuperation, because while we're at it, it's a lot of fun.
It's like having a bar fight without the consequences.
Mania: Any mishaps? Any thrown punches that connected with something it shouldn't have?
Blum: [laughs] So far, no.
We'll see what happens. We have a lot to go still.
Mania: How many episodes of the show have you done?
Blum: I think we've done twenty-six and we're all praying for a season two.
I don't what's down the pipeline but I'm pretty sure that's gonna happen.
Mania: Has there been any talk of a Wolverine feature film on DVD?
Blum: From your mouth to God's ears.
I'm happy with whatever comes along. They really don't give us very much information about that sort of thing, and even if they did, if I told you I'd have to kill you.
Mania: Of course.
With a movie like this, do you record the voices before the animation? Or does it come afterwards?
Blum: We do the voices before the animation.
Mania: That's different from a lot of the anime work you've done, where the entire thing is completely animated, and for a foreign language no less.
Blum: That's a different technical animal.
I was raised in anime. I started out in anime and did that for fifteen years before I really dug into original animation.
The biggest difference for me is really just the technicality of it. Being able to match up the mouth flaps and to honor what has done before and to put something that's believable into an existing picture.
In something like 'Woverine' or 'Hulk Vs' we're able to kind of go balls out and they animate to us. So there's a certain freedom in that.
But for me the performance is about the same. I'll deliver the same performance level, within the confines of anime that I would I original animation. We're just restricted by what we have to match on screen.
Mania: Have you ever had an English script that didn't match the mouth-flaps and was just impossible to enact?
Blum: Many, many times.
I wrote for anime. I did a lot of adaptations for anime for many years. So fortunately that was something I brought to the party when I would go into the studio.
So I would rewrite lines. In fact, I still continue to do that on anime shows I work on now. I'll go into studio and even if it does match up and I think of something better I'll throw it in.
But yeah, very, very often they don't have time to tweak the scripts enough or somebody will make changes at the last minute, and the person that's making changes isn't an ADR writer. So there wil be lots of open spaces and things that don't match up.
That's part of what keeps the busy guys working is being able to rewrite stuff on the fly.
Mania: Are you doing any writing on the Wolverine show?
Blum: No, no, no.
I'm out of that business. The guys are so great on the show that I couldn't even hope to be able to do that. For anime it's a little bit different cause we're working from a Japanese translation. My skill was really at adapting the original translation to a usable American product.
On Wolverine they're doing it from scratch. The guys that are doing it are also scholars of the Marvel legacy and it would take me a lot of years to catch up and be able to do something like that.
Mania: OK. Last question.
Call this fight: Steve Blum vs. Hugh Jackman!
Well, it depends on how dirty I can fight.
Mania: Fair enough.
Anything else you think fans need to know?
Blum: Just watch it, watch it, watch it. And enjoy it as much as we enjoyed ourselves making it.
Check out 'Hulk Vs' on DVD and Blu-Ray, in stores today. Then toon in to Nicktoons Network every Friday night at 8pm for 'Wolverine and the X-Men'.