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Toonzone Interviews Josh Keaton on Being Hal Jordan for "Green Lantern: The Animated Series"

Fans of superhero cartoons may miss actor Josh Keaton’s portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the fan-favorite The Spectacular Spider-Man series, but the actor has been keeping busy with the superhero set in his voice-over career. Keaton reprised the role of Spider-Man in a variety of video games, including Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, several Marvel Super Hero Squad titles, and the recently released Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Cartoon fans may have also caught the actor/singer as the Flash in direct-to-video animated feature Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, as the nasty Troy in the Cartoon Network animated film Firebreather, or as Jack Darby in the Hub’s Transformers Prime series.

Keaton’s latest role will fling him into deep space as Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Sector 2814, in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, launching today in a special sneak preview before the series officially begins next year. Toonzone News caught up with Josh Keaton via e-mail for a quick chat about his newest job (and don’t forget to check out the World’s Finest Online’s interview with Keaton as well).

TOONZONE NEWS: When we spoke last, you mentioned how strongly you identified with Peter Parker, and I’ve seen you say you don’t necessarily think of yourself as being much like Hal Jordan. Who or what are you drawing on to create Jordan’s character? Are you modeling him after someone you know or on any specific other characters or performances?

JOSH KEATON: The first thing I set was the voice tone. Hal’s a bigger physical presence than the Spidey I’ve played and is definitely not a teenager; he needed to sound like an adult. As for the character, I asked a few of my close friends who are huge Green Lantern fans for insights into his character as well as what comic issues I should focus on at first. Bruce Timm and our head writers Jim Krieg and Ernie Altbacker also had pearls of wisdom to offer. As for previous performances, I didn’t have a whole lot to go on in the time frame so much of my interpretation of Hal’s character came from reading Green Lantern: Rebirth and seeing his family dynamic. His desire to follow his dreams and fly while having to deal with the fallout within his family was something that rang true to me and allowed me to find myself in Hal.

TOONZONE NEWS: You’ve mentioned that you really got familiar with Hal Jordan through a crash-course in the recent comics. Did you get to do that before your audition or after?

JOSH KEATON: After. I was pretty much flying on instinct in the audition…which is pretty much what Hal does! Perhaps that throwing of caution to the wind came across in my read. The first audition was one I recorded at home and submitted and I immediately started poking my nose into the books before I even knew I would get a callback. It was kind of a whirlwind casting process. There wasn’t much time between the initial audition and the callback (a week or two perhaps?) and the time between callback and finding out I got the job was a pretty short time as well. I didn’t know if new material would be part of the callback so the day I submitted my audition I started learning the Green Lantern oath. I was actually a little bummed when I didn’t need to recite it at the callback.

TOONZONE NEWS: Did you change anything significantly between auditioning for the role and recording it because of the reading?

JOSH KEATON: I wouldn’t say anything really changed significantly between audition and job. The first few sessions are really where the character for that particular project is fully fleshed out, and the entire time I was still reading Green Lantern in my spare time. I’m still reading Green Lantern!

TOONZONE NEWS: Are you recording Green Lantern: The Animated Series “radio style,” or are you tending to do it separately?

JOSH KEATON: Radio style. The only exceptions would be scheduling conflicts but for the most part we would read together.

TOONZONE NEWS: Was there much room for improvisation in recording, or do you all stick pretty close to the script?

JOSH KEATON: With Green Lantern we stuck pretty close to the script. I don’t think there was much ad-libbing, nor was it really necessary.

TOONZONE NEWS: I think this marks the third time you and Kevin Michael Richardson have had major roles in a series together. Did your familiarity with each other as actors and voice-over actors affect your performances as Hal and Kilowog?

JOSH KEATON: Absolutely. Kevin and I have become good friends outside of the studio so we didn’t need to work on rapport at all. The Hal and Kilowog dynamic was there immediately. Our camaraderie and joking around would quite often carry over between takes and I thank our wonderful voice director, Lisa Schaffer for wrangling us back to productivity when needed (which was a lot).

TOONZONE NEWS: Was Ian Abercrombie in the room when you did your “Hal impersonates Ganthet” scene in the premiere episode? Has he gotten you back for that one?

JOSH KEATON: Ian was a really good sport about it, but he’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He hasn’t gotten me back for it yet but if he reads this, he might start plotting.

TOONZONE NEWS: If you can reveal it without too many spoilers, what do you think is the strangest thing you’ve had to do so far as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: The Animated Series?

JOSH KEATON: It’s a toss up between speaking alien and my reaction to alien fruit exploding in my face.

TOONZONE NEWS: What else are you working on at the moment?

JOSH KEATON: I voice Valtor in season 3 of Nickelodeon’s re-release/dub of Winx Club which is airing now. He’s an evil wizard with incredible hair and a stable of Trix.

Toonzone News would like to thank Josh Keaton for taking the time to speak with us, along with Winson Seto at Warner Bros. Animation PR and Angela Mach at Platform PR for setting it up. Green Lantern: The Animated Series will get a special sneak preview tonight, Friday, November 11, 2011, at 7:00 PM (6:00 PM Central) on Cartoon Network, with the regular series launching in early 2012. To keep up with Josh Keaton, check out his official website, his Facebook page, and his Twitter feed.

Don’t forget to check out our interview with Green Lantern: The Animated Series producer Giancarlo Volpe, our coverage of the NY Comic Con 2011 Green Lantern: The Animated Series panel, our latest review of the pilot, and our review from NY Comic Con.

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