The two veteran actors talk about being kind and queen of the gods in the latest DC Animated feature
It's time for a meeting of Greek gods with criminal investigation, as David McCallum (Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and Marg Helgenberger (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) take on the vocal roles of Zeus and Hera in Wonder Woman, the latest animated DC Universe feature from Warner Brothers Animation.
The two stars of television crime-drama recently took the time to talk about the roles they are playing in the feature, and here's what they had to say:
You've played a number of interesting roles, but what's your take on voicing a god?
Marg Helgenberger: Well, as the saying goes, behind every great man is an even greater woman. I guess playing Hera means that I'm, well, not only Queen of the Gods, I'm better than he is! [she laughs]
David McCallum: I played Julius Caesar in a Central Park version of the Shakespeare play, and just before that I was the emperor in Amadeus on Broadway. So when my acting friends heard I was Zeus, they said "Ah, you're following your New York career."
You're fairly busy with a hit TV series, so what made you say "yes" to recording for an animated film?
Marg Helgenberger: I think the cast was enticing. Not that I was going to be playing opposite most of them, but just to be in their company. And being married to Zeus was kind of fun - he is the god of all gods in Greek mythology. Voicing acting is usually fun, though - I've even asked my agents about narrating books on tape. I'm very curious about that world. I'm a fan of documentaries, as well, and the voice kind of makes it right. Mostly for me, though, it's all about the acting -you don't have to get hair and makeup and the whole bit. You just can have fun with the acting.
David McCallum: Radio has always been my first love, and this is as close to that performance as you can get. One of my favorite things when I was younger was to listen to radio dramas, and there are none now. They would do three-hour plays on radio - this was before television, of course. So doing these films is a lot like those performances.
I love doing animation - mainly because you get to over-act. They're always saying "more," "louder," "bigger," "huger" and you just turn it lose. Andrea's (Romano) reputation proceeds her as Numero Uno so it's always good to work with her. Plus, doing animation voiceovers, I have learned so much, and it's always good in your career to discover something you didn't know, and to learn to do things differently. So it's been a fascinating experience.
Most importantly, though, I have a grandson who thinks this is the greatest thing I've ever done. When I did Ben 10, I really didn't know anything about Ben 10. But when I went back to visit my son Pierre and told him what I'd just done, he said "You did a Ben 10?!?" and then he started yelling out to my grandson, "Luca, Luca, come here, Granddaddy did a Ben 10 show." You suddenly discover you're gratte-cul with a five-year-old, and that's pretty cool."
Are you or were you a comic book fan?
Marg Helgenberger: The comic books I read when I was much younger were the goofy ones like Archie and Betty & Veronica. I think there was one called Nancy and Sluggo. I did actually date a comic book artist briefly during the 1980s. I was living in New York and he lived in my building. I'd bump into him in the elevator and he'd been (awake) for three days straight, hovering over his drawing board. He had this whole odd world in his mind, and it was pretty fascinating. I was very impressed.
David McCallum: I think the comic books that I grew up with, The Beano and the Dandy and Desperate Dan, I really loved those back in the day. And during World War I, there was a detective comic I used to read in the Daily Express or Daily Mail. And of course, I loved going to the local Odeon on Saturday mornings for the show and they always had a cartoon. Those are my memories of comics as a kid.
Wonder Woman offers a pretty strong female role model. Are females represented enough on screen yet, or are we still building that foundation?
Marg Helgenberger: Television is a medium that's incredibly strong for actresses - far more than feature films. There are so many opportunities for all of us to portray all different types of women - particularly women of great strength, real women with wonderful souls. But in terms of the action heroines, there's not enough of them. When I think about all the action heroines in film, the ones that stand out to me are actresses and roles and films like Sigourney Weaver in Alien, and the French film La Femme Nikita, and certainly Linda Hamilton in the The Terminator movies. I guess my son would probably point out the Resident Evil films. But I think we need more of those characters. Maybe now that we're into the 21st Century, there will be a lot more of them.
Does working in this medium have any other special significance for you?
David McCallum: It's fascinating for me because when I did The Man from U.N.C.L.E. it was over at Metro (Goldwyn Mayer). Right next to where I had my little dressing room suite was MGM Animation, and just to sort of walk by there every day and know that all those incredible characters came from them was fascinating. I've always appreciated the work that goes into animated productions and I enjoy being part of that creativity.
Produced by the multiple Emmy Award winning animation legend Bruce Timm, Wonder Woman is an origin-- story and features a stellar celebrity voice cast including Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Virginia Madsen, Rosario Dawson, Oliver Platt and David McCallum. Wonder Woman begins on the mystical island of Themyscira, where a proud and fierce warrior race of Amazons resides. They have raised Princess Diana, a daughter of stunning beauty, extraordinary strength and incredible fighting prowess. Diana possesses a host of super human powers granted to her by the gods and goddesses of Olympus and her strength and stamina are unparalleled. When Air Force fighter pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on the island, the rebellious and headstrong Diana defies Amazonian law by accompanying Trevor back to civilization. Meanwhile, Ares (the God of War) has escaped his imprisonment at the hands of the Amazons and has decided to exact his revenge by starting a world war that will destroy them all. It is up to Princess Diana to save her people and the world by using her gifts to become the ultimate Wonder Woman. Visit the film's official website at www.wonderwomanmovie.com. The film hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc on March 3, 2009.