Superman Unbound: Voicing the Man of Steel with Matt Bomer and Tim Daly
by Brian Walton on May 4, 2013
Over the years, a number of talented actors have had the opportunity to portray the Man of Steel. Whether you rally behind Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, or Tom Welling, or are just holding out for The Man of Steel‘s Henry Cavill to save you, the debate over the best live-action Superman is nothing compared to the debates Superman die-hards get into over who is the quintessential voice of Superman. For anyone who counted the days between episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Tim Daly is probably the Supe-du-jor-el, but the fans who got lassoed in by Justice League Unlimited, George Newbern is the Last Son of Krypton. (Nerdist Note: Newbern is also the voice actor behind Final Fantasy‘s Sephiroth.)
Over the years, the voice casting of Clark Kent has gone back and forth between Daly and Newbern, with a few others mixed in for one off projects. While Newbern may be featured as two Supermen in the recent DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Daly has gotten some of the choice jobs for Superman like Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Justice League: Doom. (Nerdist Note: Daly showed his love for the character on he and his son’s web series The Daly Show. They even let Nathan Fillion get in on the action.)
With Superman Unbound, out Tuesday, the powers that be have chosen someone new to provide the baritone country boy his pipes, though it’s not someone unfamiliar to Superman fans. Matt Bomer may be known more for his role as smooth criminal Neal Caffery in White Collar or for his abs in Magic Mike, but during the period of time Brett Ratner was working up a reboot of Superman, he was known as he who would wear the tights. (Nerdist Note: After Ratner left the project, Bryan Singer did audition Bomer for what would be come Superman Returns.)
In the latest DC animated feature, Andrea Romano had to find an actor who could both lend credence to the tension of the action and has a voice that would be able to convey a very different side of Superman. Unbound, based on Geoff Johns’ “Brainiac” storyline, heavily focuses on the relationships Clark has with Lois Lane and his cousin, Supergirl. Romano found that balance with Matt Bomer. A self-professed Superman fan, Bomer has an enthusiasm for the material that made it almost an inevitability that he would finally get his crack at the character.
“That process was so different,” Bomer said when prodded about finally getting to play Superman after his near-miss casting. “Getting to do that with Brett was its own unique thing and I wasn’t available on the last one they did. When they called me and asked me to do this, I thought, ‘Great!’ It’s one of the most iconic characters you could ever get to play and a character I’ve loved since I was five years old. Of course I’m going to do it. Only being able to access him through your voice was a different experience.”
Getting to be the voice of Superman is not something an actor likes to give up, at least not in the case of Tim Daly. When we talked with him about his role in Justice League: Doom, Daly came clean that he wishes he was the only one. “This is a horrible admission, but I didn’t really realize there were other people voicing Superman out there and I was upset about that. I kinda thought I had a corner on that market. Not to be immodest. I do consider myself the voice of Superman and I’m very proprietary about it. People ask me and I’ll always jump at the chance.” Tim even went so far as to say the idea of someone else voicing Clark Kent has affected his digestive tract, “I get dyspeptic when I know someone else is going to do a version of the cartoon.”
“Oh, wow, I owe him some Pepto Bismol then,” Bomer said with a sheepish grin. “Man, it’s tough. Inevitably, if you’re a fan of the character, you have all those actors who have come before you in the back of your mind. But, ultimately, what you have to deal with is the script and the incarnation of that character you are dealing with for this particular project. In this one, it was very mature, as usually a lot of us play it. Between Brainiac, feeling very paternal towards Supergirl and feeling protective of Lois as well because he’s worried that their relationship is going to endanger her, it was a very weighty version of the character. So, I tried to keep my stuff with Lois pretty light and flirty to counterbalance that. And then I get to say, ‘Welcome to Earth!’ Who doesn’t want to get to say that?”
The actor had no problem admitting he mimicked another actor’s performance when delivering that line. “I think I definitely did it with an exact, Xerox copy of Will Smith a couple times, and they were, like, ‘Okay, Matt, now do yours.’”
You can see Matt do his when Superman Unbound releases on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Tuesday, May 7th.