Veteran actor Clancy Brown should be well-known to science fiction and fantasy fans, with his on-camera roles as the Kurgan in the first Highlander movie and Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, as well as his voice-over roles as Lex Luthor in Superman the Animated Series, Mr. Krabs in SpongeBob SquarePants, and Long Feng in Avatar the Last Airbender. He also had a critically acclaimed role in The Shawshank Redemption and regularly appears in animation and video games in other voice-over roles.
Q: What’s the unique challenge of playing Lex Luthor in this version?
CLANCY BROWN: I don’t know that there was any unique challenge, because I just love playing him and was glad they invited me to do it. But, Jon (Burton) and Jeremy (Pardon) have done so many LEGO games, and I’m really familiar with their games because I have a 10-year old. They’ve done Star Wars and all of the adaptions, so as soon as they said, “Well, we’re going to do a movie” I wanted to see what kind of movie they were going to do, and it just happens to be Lex. I’m thinking, “I have to do this for them,” because I’m going to be buying the game and playing it anyway, but this is the first time they’ve actually done an original film on their own rather than making a LEGO game based on a movie, so they can make it however they want to.
Q: Is it more slapstick-y, or more humor than your other portrayals of Lex?
CLANCY BROWN: Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely in the LEGO portfolio. It’s got that same LEGO style and kid-friendly irreverence and inside jokes and stuff, but it’s absolutely consistent with what we know of that DC world, I think. And it was fun to do.
TOONZONE NEWS: Did you audition for the part, or did they just call you and say, “Hey, we want you to be Lex Luthor?”
CLANCY BROWN: They called me. I’ve usually only done Lex with Bruce Timm, and this is the first time I’ve ever done Lex without Bruce. So I feel a little bit…a little bit sleazy. (Laughs) But not really. It was a lot of fun. I loved doing it.
Q: How did the voice actors in this movie compare to Tim Daly and George Newbern and Kevin Conroy?
CLANCY BROWN: Well, I know these guys from other voice-over jobs, and I’ve always really liked Travis Willingham’s take on Superman. And Troy Baker’s Batman is the first time I heard it. I think whoever does Batman…even in the movies…they’re all trying to emulate Kevin. I just think everybody should just cop to that right now, that Kevin is the definitive voice of Batman and that’s that. And Troy does a great job that way.
TOONZONE NEWS: It’s been 17 years since you first started doing Lex Luthor…
CLANCY BROWN: Shut up! (laughter)
TOONZONE NEWS: The first question is did you ever imagine that you’d still be playing Lex Luthor 17 years later?
CLANCY BROWN: No, never. Of course not. I actually scrap for every opportunity now because they’ve started to have other people play him, and I really love doing him. Any time they want to invite me to do him, I’ll do him. But they’ve kind of moved beyond me.
CLANCY BROWN: Oh, they’re always fun. These guys are great fun. They’re wonderful. Can’t complain about any of the other ones.
Q: Was it that actors wanted to do voice-over work at the time, or was it that you do it because you had to pay the bills, but…
CLANCY BROWN: Well, some people want to do it, some people don’t want to do it. I’ve always been a big animation fan.
Q: Have you seen that over time, actors are chasing after it more?
CLANCY BROWN: Sometimes, but the people who do this, like Tom Kenny and Jeff Bennett and Rob Paulsen…they’re so good. They’re SO good. And these guys in this movie, are SO good. It’s just not something you’re going to step in and do. You may want to do it, but you gotta put in the time to learn how to do it. I’m just getting to a point where I feel confident doing it, after 17 years, right?
Q: Do you see yourself playing Lex Luthor in a live-action film?
CLANCY BROWN: I see myself playing every part all the time. (laughs) I don’t know, it’d be fun, right?
Q: Is there actually a LEGO Lex figure?
CLANCY BROWN: Yup.
Q: Do you have it?
CLANCY BROWN: I don’t. Not yet.
Q: Is it something you want to give your kids? Giving them the power to pop Dad’s head off?
CLANCY BROWN: Oh, yeah. Sure. He gets very defensive about all of my characters. When I was doing Star Wars: The Clone Wars as Savage Opress, he got a whole bunch of Savage Opress figures, and he had a little Savage Opress family, you know? It was really weird, but he gets very possessive towards my characters, which is fun.
Q: I’ve heard that voice acting is harder and I’ve heard that showing up live on set is harder. You’re an old hand at both, so which do you prefer? Which do you think is harder?
CLANCY BROWN: I don’t know that I prefer one over the other. Being on camera is a little more difficult because it usually takes me away from my family, and that’s annoying. Voice acting tends to keep me at home and I can go and take my kid to school and have dinner with them. So in that sense, live-action is a little bit harder, but I love it all. I’ve been doing it a long time and I wouldn’t want to do anything else ever for a living.
Q: Is there another hero or villain that you would like to do?
CLANCY BROWN: I don’t know…It has to be a script. I’d have to see it.
Q: Would you like to be in a sequel to Man of Steel?
CLANCY BROWN: Yeah, if they want to use me. I wouldn’t say no. But I’m not going to chase after it. They’ve got their own language that way, and I’m completely content where I am right now.
TOONZONE NEWS: In young Clancy Brown’s world, who wins in a fight: LEGO or Superhero Comic Books?
CLANCY BROWN: LEGO or Superhero Comic Books… Wow. I don’t know! I’m new to LEGO. My son is not new to LEGO, he grew up with it, but I’m an old comic book guy, so I kind of lean to the old school stuff, but that’s a good question. I don’t know. I love what they do with the LEGO now. It’s just awesome.
And to answer your question, you know I’ve been thinking about that. Doctor Doom, I always thought was really cool for a villain. But he’s so old school. He’s, like, Iron Curtain-type stuff. That’s his metaphor, right? But he looks so cool. His thing, it’s like medieval.
TOONZONE NEWS: And how he refers to himself in the third person.
CLANCY BROWN: Yeah, yeah, that’s so cool.
Q: You do tend to gravitate more towards villains.
CLANCY BROWN: Yeah, that’s just what they give me.
Q: But that’s not what you prefer?
CLANCY BROWN: I don’t know, I prefer doing it. I’ll do whatever. I’ll do whatever they want me to.