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Mania Interview: Will Friedle

The voice of Batman Beyond talks about life behind the mike

By Kurt Anthony Krug     December 03, 2010


Mania Interview: Will Friedle
© Mania/Robert Trate

Nowadays, actor Will Friedle prefers doing voiceover work than live-action work.

 

“I retired from on-camera work at 30. Plain and simple. I started acting on camera when I was 10, so it had been 20 years. I really enjoyed it, but the on-camera side of the industry just isn’t as fun anymore--it’s definitely not the same as when I started,” explained Friedle, 34.

 

The actor played Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World, the long-running sitcom that aired from 1993 until 2000. However, his best-known role is Terry McGinnis, alias the future Batman, on Batman Beyond from 1999 until 2001, all 52 episodes of which was recently released on DVD as Batman Beyond: The Complete Series. The series was a spin-off from the critically lauded and commercially successful Batman: The Animated Series, both of which boasted creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, as well as Jean MacCurdy, Andrea Romano, Alan Burnett, and Glen Murakami.

 

Friedle has also voiced Ron Stoppable on Kim Possible. In addition to Batman, he has also done other characters in the DC Comics pantheon: Blue Beetle (Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Fang (Teen Titans), and the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern (Justice League Unlimited).

 

He continued, “I’m now more established in the voiceover world, and I get to (act) in a far more fun, more fulfilling way. I think I went out on a high note. I was still doing films and television series and I thought I’d rather walk away when it was my choice. I know you’re never supposed to say ‘never,’ but I can pretty much say ‘never’ to on-camera work again.”

 

In Batman Beyond, Bruce Wayne, alias the original Batman (Kevin Conroy) is an embittered old man who can no longer become the Dark Knight due to his age and health problems. He reluctantly takes rebellious youth Terry McGinnis under his wing. Together, the two form a partnership that actually works, although it’s rocky at times.

 

One of Friedle’s fondest memories of Batman Beyond was working with Conroy and Mark Hamill for the movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

 

“Sitting between Kevin and Mark for five days was pretty incredible. I learned more about being a voiceover actor in those five days than I did in the five months before that,” he said. “Just watching the two of them work--how Mark got so into the character, completely losing himself in the role. And then there’s Kevin with that deep, booming voice, always sitting with his back straight and working perfectly with the microphone. It was an education.”

 

He also enjoyed working Romano, the voice director of Batman Beyond, whom he called “amazing and fun.”

Batman Beyond was so strong that you couldn’t wait to get the script for the next week. The character development was outstanding--from the villains they’d invent to the way they brought back the old villains. And the way they treated Terry and Bruce, and their relationship,” recalled Friedle. “The casting was phenomenal, but even the greatest actors can’t make bad writing good--so it all comes down to what was on the page, and that’s where Batman Beyond became a great show.”

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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peak37pt 12/3/2010 9:44:53 AM

 Batman Beyond is incredible. I still watch the episodes at least once a week (sometimes I fall asleep to them at night). Will Friedle and the rest of the cast were awesome. I wish they would bring the show back!

millean 12/3/2010 9:45:03 AM

Great article.  Wasn't sure what to expect, but that was a pretty good read.  I never knew the the kid from Boy Meets World was Batman Beyond.  Don't know if it will ever sound the same to me now.  :)

Have to admit that Friedle sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders.  More power to ya, Will!

flinshadytoo 12/3/2010 11:34:47 AM

 Bring back Batman Beyond- I still love it & the epilogue in jsu

Beardeer 8/17/2011 3:42:41 PM

Great to see this here!

Voice actors should be recognised as the successors to radio actors. They were the first to bring us this kind of storytelling, and they did it better than the movies sometimes. Bogey and Bacal didn't snif at it. Voice actors are some of the best. Steve Zahn was a voice actor, now there is a nuanced and enthusiastic performer.

Epic, Shakespearian actors are not as successful as it should be.

Think of the heckling they give Mark Hammil for his rendition of Luke in Starwars. Why? the whole hearted sincerity of performance unnerved people, that's all. On radio, or behind an animated image, that truthful and expansive acting is better appreciated. Its unfortunate that American kabuki-calibre acting must be held at arms length like this for this audience to enjoy it, but at least there is this venue for such performers.

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