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PR: Clancy Brown Voices Rhino in "The Spectacular Spider-Man"

Clancy Brown has crafted an impressive career within both the mainstream and the fanboy arenas. He has balanced acclaimed performances in the Academy Award nominated “The Shawshank Redemption” and HBO’s “Carnivale” with memorable roles in numerous fanboy classics, including “Highlander,” “Starship Troopers” and “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension.” Brown’s lengthy list of animated voiceovers is topped by his quintessential evocation of Lex Luthor in “Superman: The Animated Series,” and “Justice League,” as well as Mr. Freeze in “The Batman” and, of course, as Mr. Krabs in “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Now you can add a new credit to that ever-expanding animation career as Brown provides the voice of Rhino in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” television series. The episode, entitled “The Invisible Hand,” premieres Saturday, April 12 at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Kids’ WB! on The CW.

A huge fan of films (and baseball), Brown is quick to give credit to the past as an influence on his current rendition of Spider-Man’s ultimate brawn-over-brains foe.

“For me, the quintessential ‘thug’ was played by William Bendix in ‘The Glass Key’,” Brown says. “The simpler the character, the simpler the thought process. That means Rhino’s ‘motivation’ is never too complicated – he’s very elemental. He’s mad or happy or angry or sad or hungry or whatever. And it never gets beyond his appetites or ego.

“His world-view is limited to what’s in front of his nose. Hence the name Rhino. The voice and delivery should be as uncomplicated and direct. Bendix does this perfectly in ‘The Glass Key.’ He doesn’t care what Brian Donleavy has up his sleeve or how clever Alan Ladd’s insults are. He just knows he wants to beat Ladd to a pulp. Itches that must be scratched and appetites that must be sated.”

Brown says it’s important for him to see the character during the process of creating the voice.

“Rhino is massive and he must have a voice that matches the mass,” Brown says. “The producers aren’t mixing it up too much in that regard. You could give him a squeaky light voice and play that ‘opposite’ joke, but that’s not what this show is doing right now. By the way, Bendix had a high voice for a ‘tough guy’ which seemed to add a complexity to the psychology of his characters – but he wasn’t creating a vocalization.”

A tall man with a deep, gravelly voice, Brown has a tendency to be cast as the villain in both live-action and voiceover roles. While his acting goals don’t lean toward always playing rogues, Brown is happy to embrace and bring to life whatever characters he’s offered.

“I’ll play whatever their paying for — bad guys are fun, but I have no preference,” he says. “The only thing I try to remember is that bad guys don’t think they are bad. They think they are right.”

For “The Spectacular Spider-Man” producer Greg Weisman and voice/casting director Jamie Thomason, Brown was an easy choice for the role of Rhino.

“We knew Rhino would require a voice with strength and menace, but Rhino also isn’t the brightest bulb on the marquee – so we knew whoever we cast would also have to have the acting chops and comic timing to take the character beyond the usual dumb goon,” Weisman explains. “Jamie and I have both worked often enough with Clancy to know he could nail it. Not only does he have that great tough, low voice, but he knows how to turn on a dime between dangerous and comedic characterizations.”

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