Exclusive Interview: Cartoon Network’s New Green Lantern Josh Keaton Tells All

Josh Keaton Green Lantern

With great power comes great responsibility.

After living by that motto as the voice of Spider-Man in the critically acclaimed animated series “Spectacular Spider-Man“, Josh Keaton has taken on a new challenge: the voice of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern in the new Cartoon Network animated series titled “Green Lantern: Animated Series” which premières with a one hour special tomorrow Friday, November 11 7/6c on Cartoon Network.

Daemon’s TV had a chance to chat with Mr Keaton about how he created the voice of Green Lantern, what the new series will be all about and what voice he would love to take on. Check out more about what he had to say below and don’t forget to tune in for the premiere of Green Lantern: Animated Series which airs tomorrow at 7/6c on Cartoon Network.

PS: There is a video surprise at the end of the interview.

How did you get involved with this new series

Josh Keaton: I head about it from my voiceover agent. I have a studio here at the house so I fired off an audition and got called back. And went in to read with Bruce Timm and some of the other producers of the show. And the rest is history.

So were you familiar with the character of the Green Lantern prior to?

Josh Keaton: I can’t say I was as familiar as I was with Spider-Man when I did that. Spider-Man was one of my favorites growing up. So I had a wealth of information already about Spider-Man and his rogues gallery and had a voice in my head already for who he was. Whereas with Hal and with Green Lantern, in general I didn’t have the same amount of familiarity. So it was a bit of a daunting task. Once everything started happening for the show, I tried to read as much ‘GL’ as I could to familiarize myself with both the mythos and with Hal as a character. 

When you’re essentially getting into a character that doesn’t exist, how do you create a voice for that character?

Josh Keaton: Really the voice happens in a couple ways. First of all, there are physical representations of Hal in the comic books and various cartoons and all that. He kind of has a look. So obviously you’re going to take a look at him and you’re going to get a sound in your head for what you would picture that look to soundlike. Then the second part would be really reading the stories and seeing how he deals with things. Seeing what the core tenants of him as a person are and then building it around that.

And so once you feel like you have the voice, what kind of approach do you have when you’re working with producers who might have their own idea of what a specific character might sound like?

Josh Keaton: That’s all right. Well, again, it’s one of those things that will happen at the beginning stage. And usually once a call for an actor to submit comes out, it already has some direction in it for how they want him to sound, kind of what they want him to be like. Because, let’s not forget, Hal in one continuity might be a little bit different from another continuity. And the two characters could still be very, very similar. Almost identical but in terms of pacing, in terms of the tone of the show, you know, there might be a more lighthearted GL approach versus a darker approach. And those are all going to kind of factor into the ultimate voice.

But usually they give you some clues as to what they’re looking for. In the entertainment industry it’s called a breakdown. So every character- sometimes you’ll get character art. Sometimes not. But you’ll always get somewhat of the character breakdown in terms of what they’re looking for. And that also helps in building the voice. Now usually unless it’s something that they’re kind of casting right there, like a little small incidental part in a show that only has maybe two or three lines, and at that point they’ll kind of work with you a little bit on the voice and say, ‘Oh, try something sillier sounding.’ Or, ‘Try this,’ or ‘Try that’.

But usually when you’re doing something like this, at least in the first couple auditions, it’s really up to the actor. And they’re going to make their first cut based on the first interpretation that the actor brings to it. So it’s really the actor making their own choices. And if they like what the actor is capable of but think that the voice might need a slight adjustment then they’ll let you know. And at that point you can tweak it and do all that. But usually they kind of run with what the actor runs with.

Green Lantern

Let’s talk about the series. What do you think fans are going to be able to expect from this new animated series of the ‘Green Lantern’?

Josh Keaton: The show is going to focus a lot on the Green Lanterns. Not so much on the Earth storyline. It’s about the Lantern Corps. It’s about specifically Hal and Kilowog. So it’s going to follow them throughout frontier space. There’s going to be a lot of new stuff, a lot of familiar stuff. And, yeah, you’ll definitely see more of Oa than you saw in the movie.

And so is it more going to be procedural with a specific adventure every episode?

Josh Keaton: It’s not necessarily going to be villain of the week. Yes, there will be some stand-alone episodes however everything is still going to tie together. And even the stand-alone episodes are going to build into an end of season arc.

Did you get any feedback from the fandom regarding Green Lantern so far?

Josh Keaton: Tthey just started screening it at New York Comic Con I think that was the first time that they actually screened the pilot episode. And so far it’s been overwhelmingly positive. The feedback looks to be pretty great.

And with Twitter and Facebook offering almost immediate feedback, do you follow that or do you just leave it on the side?

Josh Keaton: I troll occasionally. I troll occasionally. With Spider-Man, I grew up with him I have such a long history with Spider-Man that I’ve always had a voice in my head for how I think Spider-Man would sound. And I’ve also read enough of ‘Spider-Man’ to really feel as though I have a good judge of Peter Parker as a character. So at that point, you can read stuff on the Internet but you can’t really take a lot of it too seriously because at the end of the day it’s still the actor’s interpretation of this character. Not everybody might like it but if you stay true to what the source material is and everything that you’ve done is truthful then that’s really all you can hope to do.

Josh Keaton: Sure. Of course.

With these kind of series, do you feel any sort of responsibility towards the younger viewers in shaping their values?

Josh Keaton: It’s funny because I never thought of that until I was the voice of Spider-Man. I kind of had a little shade of that when I did ‘Hercules’ where I was like, ‘Wow, I’m doing a voice in a Disney movie.’ Because I remember growing up with Disney movies. And exactly what you’re saying. Disney movies shaped so much of my perception of many things. And now I get to be in one. It’s almost like becoming immortalized in a very, very tiny way. The same thing with Spider-Man. I remember watching ‘Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends’. And I remember the ’90s Spider-Man. I know how each Spider-Man that comes out is kind of like the Spider-Man for that particular generation. It’s kind of humbling to get to be that. It is pretty awesome. I guess you definitely feel some sort of a sense of responsibility to put forth the best interpretation of that character as you can because it is iconic. And because it has a life outside of the actor who’s playing him. So, you want to try to be as truthful to what the original intent of the character was and still leave your mark on it in some way.

Great. So aside from the ‘Green Lantern’ are there any other upcoming projects you can talk about?

Josh Keaton: Yes. I’m working on a new to Nickelodeon show called ‘Winx Club’. And I think that started out in Italy. Which is, yeah, I guess it would be like, you know, like fairies and witches. And I play this evil wizard named Valtor, which is always fun to get to play the bad guy. And ‘Transformers’ is airing its end of season right now. And I’m not exactly sure when season two is going to start airing. But, yeah, I’ve been working on that. And then there’s some other smaller stuff like I did a bunch of voices in ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic‘, which is going to be coming out soon and it looks like it’s going to be a fun game.

So how many voice jobs have you ever juggled at the same time?

Josh Keaton: I’d say that right now this was probably one of the busiest times. I was juggling ‘Green Lantern’, ‘Winx Club’, and ‘Transformers’ in terms of regular, ongoing series. And then with the occasional ‘Spider-Man’ video game thrown in there for good measure.

Do you find yourself dreaming in one voice more than another? Or is it just Josh all the time

Josh Keaton: [laughs] Most of what I do has still got facets of me in it. But I mean it’s like a crazy person’s head in my head. But I guess that would mean I’m a crazy person. There’s all kinds of voices going around. If I don’t hear one then I make up another one.

If you could voice any character you wanted, who would you voice?

Josh Keaton: Huh. That’s a good one because I mean, I could already say, ‘Hey, you know what? My dream was to voice Spider-Man and I already did it.’ Let’s see. There’s a lot. I mean I would love to voice Wolverine once my buddy Steve decides to retire. He’s doing it. But I think he’s doing a bang up job. I love his Wolverine. And I definitely have some more maturing to do before I can get that thick gravelly Wolverine voice. It’s tough. It’s tough. You’re asking me to say, all right, “which one of your friends do you want to take a job from?” Because the voice over is such a small community that like everybody knows everybody.

I still notice you haven’t picked one. Ideally, who would you like to voice?

Josh Keaton: I’d like to play a character on ‘The Simpsons’.


While you are waiting for GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, here is a clip of a scene featuring Josh Keaton’s voice as Hal Jordan to wet your appetite: