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Exclusive LEGO DC Super Heroes interview: James Arnold Taylor

LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Flash puts the fastest member of the Justice League front and centre – voice actor James Arnold Taylor explains why this is a character close to his heart

The latest animated feature from the LEGO Group and Warner Bros. Animation was recently released on home formats. LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Flash sees James Arnold Taylor reprise the titular role, as the character faces a unique threat when he finds himself in a time loop courtesy of Reverse-Flash. He will have to figure out how to stop re-living the same day with some help from his super friends.

James Arnold Taylor has plenty of experience in the LEGO world, having also played Yondu in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat, Moon Boy in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Spider-Man in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and Robin in LEGO Batman: The Video Game.

In this exclusive interview, the prolific voice actor discusses why The Flash is an important role to him, how the voice acting process works and his co-star Dwight Schultz.

Was The Flash a character you had any experience with prior to playing him?

The Flash is my all-time favourite super hero. In fact just here in my home, in this storage closet right next to my studio, I have all of my old comics – and I have got about 200 Flash comics. So yeah, The Flash is near and dear to my heart.

One of the greatest things about being a voice actor as opposed to being an on-camera actor – and I’ve always wanted to just be a voice actor – is that you get to be so many different characters not just in a single day, but also throughout your career. To be able to be the voice of The Flash but then to also be someone like Fred Flintstone, Obi-Wan Kenobi, any of these characters… it really boggles my old mind to be part of so many universes and franchises.

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Do you record before the animation starts, with in-progress animation, or when the feature is fully animated?

Especially now with computer animation, the ways of doing things can vary. Generally speaking, and certainly the way we did it with all of these films, is that we record the voices first and then about four to six months goes by, and they bring us back in. They have some temporary, first animation, that isn’t finished and you watch that and do some adjustments – “Flash is running here, we didn’t get a grunt or a groan there”. So we go in and we do ADR, which is Automatic Dialogue Replacement. We go in and ADR new lines or changes from the original script.

There may even be one more pass, a good three months before the movie comes out, where we’ll do some other little fine tuning things on it. So it’s quite a long process, but generally speaking with these we still do it the old traditional way of voicing everything first. That way it gives the animators the opportunity to really animate to what we did, to our beats and our timings.

Does any of your physical performance get translated into the animation?

It’s pretty awesome that they will have a camera in the studio – just a little digital home video camera for the animator to see what we were doing facially, hand gestures and stuff. So quite often I’ll watch something and I’ll go, “oh yeah”. That was the most obvious in my career during Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where we would always have cameras on us, and every time Obi-Wan Kenobi would bring his hand up to his chin, and stroke his beard, that’s something I was doing while we were recording.

With The Flash it’s kind of the same thing, there are these gestures and facial expressions. I’m always amazed with these LEGO ones how much emotion and comedy they can put into it, with what you would look at as a very basic face – two dots and a line for a mouth and they get so much into that. It’s just been fantastic and I do get to see some of myself in Barry Allen and The Flash, for sure.

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To coincide with the movie release there is a LEGO set [76098 Speed Force Freeze Pursuit] that includes really nice minifigure versions of Flash and Reverse-Flash.

Really? That’s awesome. Reverse-Flash was so great. Dwight Schultz, who did the voice of it, is of course from the A Team, a character actor for so many years and has been in so many things. He’s just brilliant. Dwight and I recorded most of our lines, actually I believe pretty much all of our lines, together in the studio. So we would do some sessions where we were together with the other actors, I did some with Kevin Michael Richardson who is Dr Fate, who is just hysterical in this, and then Kate Micucci as well as Zantanna, and we just had a blast doing that. But when Dwight and I were recording together, he really had to jump through a lot of vocal hoops because Reverse-Flash is so high energy. It was like some of these sessions you would think we had actually ran miles like these characters… it was a work out.

For more from James Arnold Taylor, check out part one of this exclusive Brick Fanatics interview.

LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Flash is available now on DVD in the UK and on Blu-ray in the USA.

James Arnold Taylor will be appearing at MCM London Comic Con from Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27 at the ExCeL Centre.

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