The heroes of DC's Justice League and Rooster Teeth Animation's RWBY join forces to battle an evil entity attacking Remnant in Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One, available to purchase Digitally and on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-Ray starting April 25.
The all-new, feature-length DC Animated Movie finds Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern and Vixen in new iterations – transformed into teenagers while in transport to RWBY’s world, and presented in Rooster Teeth’s anime-influenced animation – and partnering with the heroes of Remnant (Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang) to battle a mysterious, superpowered creature before it destroys everything they know.
Last week, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Superman actor Chandler Riggs to learn what it was like stepping into the Man of Steel's shoes.
The Walking Dead alum was faced with the unique task of playing the hero as a teenager, though he's no Superboy; this is the adult Man of Tomorrow trapped in a younger body in a reality he knows nothing about! As well as talking us through that process, Riggs explains how it felt to play this character, the unique experience of stepping into the recording booth, and how he dealt with the lofty expectations surrounding this iconic character.
We also hear from him about the time he spent playing Carl Grimes and learn more about his dream roles. You can read the full interview with the Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One star below.
You spent a big part of your career being part of an iconic comic book property, so when DC came calling, what was your initial reaction?
Oh man, [Laughs] it was probably the most surreal email that I’ve ever got. I was at my family’s house in Georgia and I was either playing video games or with my old high school friends and I remember checking my phone and seeing this email in all CAPS: ‘JUSTICE LEAGUE X RWBY.’ [Laughs] The more I read it, the crazier and crazier it felt. They wanted me to play Superman! It was so, so surreal and so crazy…it was insane. I couldn’t believe it was actually gonna happen and was so incredibly excited and grateful that they were giving me this huge opportunity. It was so cool. So surreal, so amazing. Just awesome.
When you’re playing a hero like Superman, is it hard not to put your hands on your hips, puff your chest out, and just feel like a foot taller knowing you’re this all-powerful character?
[Laughs] Yeah, that was one thing I actually had to nail down: his physicality. Even though you don’t see me voicing the character, I still had to maintain this posture and physicality Superman would have to help bring out that iconic character everybody knows and loves and expects to hear and feel when they watch someone with the big ‘S’ on their chest.
You’re in a very unique position in that he’s the Superman we all know, but in the body of a teenager; did that scenario change how you approached playing him at all?
Yeah, it was an interesting challenge. I had to figure out a way to bring the adult Superman to life because he has been thrown into a teenager’s body. I had to go to that first and be like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to build out this guy. How he thinks, how he talks, how he acts…everything.’ Then, I had to add a layer of him being thrown into being a teenager and not having all the powers he usually has. How does that change the way all those things? He has all these hormones and different things happening to his body that he doesn’t understand, even though he’s had those experiences and the weight of carrying so much on his back. It was a really fun challenge to bring to life and I was so happy and so excited to really dive into a character as complex as that.
You’ve primarily done on-camera work before this project, of course, so what about stepping inside that recording booth did you enjoy most?
It was so bizarre. I’ve done a tonne of ADR over the years, but you have the visual aide there and can see what you were doing as that character however many months ago. That informs how you talk and everything. With this, you have no idea how they’re going to animate the character. You have no idea what they’re going to do to bring the performance to life, so it’s really only…your voice is such a small part of the performance the character gives. It’s a trusting process and you have to trust that the animators are going to hear what you’re trying to get across in your voice and hope [Laughs] that they bring it to life. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’m watching it the day it comes out. So far, from the people who have seen it, it sounds like they did a great job. I’m excited to watch it.
Superman is a role that brings a lot of expectations with it, so were you feeling the pressure that first day you had to play him for the first time?
It was an immense amount of pressure. I was working for weeks with my coaches to try to really hone in and perfect this character. I would go through it line by line and scene by scene to really understand the story and character, as I would for an on-screen character. There was so much more pressure because it’s Superman [Laughs]. I’m not doing an indie film. I’m playing an icon and it has to be a familiar character to people that they can look at and watch and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the Superman we know.’ It was a lot of pressure and I had some really, really big shoes to fill. It was very cool.
This is a pretty unique movie in that it mashes up the worlds of Justice League and the RWBY franchise, so was there anything, in particular, that you really enjoyed about exploring these two worlds coming into the project?
It was an amazing process. I’m a big anime fan and a huge fan of Rooster Teeth, so getting to go and do a bunch of research of RWBY and talk to my friends and see what they liked about it and what their perspective was on all of these stories…it was really fun. I was trying to catch up on years and years of content. From the DC side, just getting to fill these big shoes belonging to Superman as we bring these worlds together was so cool. I’m at the forefront of it too as Superman…I can’t express how surreal it was getting to do that. It was incredible.
I loved what you did as Superman, but did you look at any other actors for inspiration?
They had a lot of detail in the script, so I didn’t have to do a tonne of research. Also, Superman is a pretty familiar character that everybody really knows so I didn’t go back and watch a tonne of stuff I’d already seen to get more familiar with him than I already was. It wasn’t a difficult task [Laughs] and they did such a great job with the script, I wasn’t too worried. It was an interesting and fun process and one I hope I get to do again.
I loved The Walking Dead and, for what it’s worth, would have really liked to see Carl’s story continue. Looking back, do you wish you could have carried on, perhaps exploring the impact Rick’s apparent death had on his son, or has it been nice moving on and tackling new projects like this one?
It’s crazy to think it was almost six years ago now that I left the show. It was an incredible experience and I’m so lucky to have been on it for so long. I’m so grateful for everything it gave me over the years. I wouldn’t have been playing Superman if it wasn’t for that. It was pretty bittersweet. I knew there was a lot more left in Carl’s story that I was not able to tell, but at the same time, it was nice because I could do other projects and films and shows I couldn’t have done on The Walking Dead. I’ve been able to play other characters and really feel like I’m stepping into being an adult actor. It was really cool and I’m not bitter about it at all.
As I said, you’ve spent a fair bit of time in comic book worlds, so now Superman is ticked off the bucket list, do you have any dream roles or genres or even filmmakers you’re hoping to tackle moving forward?
Man, there are so many directors out there I would really love to work with. I hope one day I can get into doing something for video games. I grew up playing them. I learned how to read through Pokemon so they’ve always been part of my life and I hope one day I can really dive into that world and start doing something there.
Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will be available to purchase Digitally and on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-Ray starting April 25.