Actor Jerry O’Connell has voiced Superman in the DC Animated Movie Universe since 2015’s Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. After seven turns portraying DC’s flagship superhero, he ends his run as the character with the rest of the animated universe in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, as the heroes of Earth band together for a last stand against Darkseid.
In an interview with CBR, O’Connell reflected on his time as the Man of Steel, his other voice work with iconic DC characters, and starring opposite his wife Rebecca Romijn, who voices Lois Lane.
CBR: You’ve been voicing Superman for some time now, with six films. Is this your darkest turn with the character?
Jerry O’Connell: Well, it is dark, it’s right there in the title. The whole DC animation team has been so incredible about telling, not just good Superman stories, but good Justice League stories. I guess I would say this is the most dark but I would also it’s the most rich. And it hasn’t just been with Apokolips War but with every single film that Warner Bros. Animation has let me play Superman and Clark in. They always come up with something new and they are, as far as I’m concerned with my personal opinion, they are the most creative when it comes to superhero storytelling right now.
You’ve taken this character to the grave and back. What is it about Superman that you still find interesting?
You know, it’s not what I find interesting about him, it’s what the Warner Bros. Animation team does to make him so interesting to me while keeping within the canon of Superman. They just always come up with something new, some new angle; that’s why I say it’s the most creative stuff happening right now in superhero storytelling. They just always come up with new, creative stuff and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reaction when Apokolips War comes out.
Without putting too fine a point to this, there is a level of finality here. Looking back, what have you found the most personally rewarding voicing the character?
Just how it’s not just playing Superman and playing Clark; it’s not just playing a superhero and a nerdy guy who works for a newspaper. They always give me a couple other levels, and it’s just always fun to play!
Even outside of Superman, you’ve done a lot of DC superheroes. Were you a comic-book fan as a kid?
I have to say, I’m in my 40s, so my first real introduction to Superman was Christopher Reeve, and so when I think of Superman, that’s who I think of. I can’t admit I knew a lot about the Superman comics but that’s where our producer James Tucker really helped me out on the backstory — with almost too much backstory! James Tucker is just a wealth of knowledge.
With this, you’re working opposite your wife as Lois Lane; you’re the definitive comic book power couple! How much fun was it for you two to have that dynamic and play opposite one another?
It’s really fun. We have a good time doing it! We do cheat a little bit and work together at home before we come in, so we do have a little bit of an advantage when it comes to forming a relationship. As much as I love Jason O’Mara, I’m not meeting over at his house and we’re not running lines together… yet. But we have a really good time doing it.
Looking back on your run as Superman, what are you most proud of?
I would say I’m most proud of how I’ve grown as Superman. I really listen to the fans on Reddit, Twitter, Comic-Con, in the quotes of section Vudu and the reviews. I really listen to the fans and, I think, I’ve grown as one of the select, very honored few that has gotten to play Superman but [also] as an actor. He’s a really fun character to play, man! He’s a superhero, a bad boyfriend, a good son, an orphan, a pretty bad employee, a jealous coworker when it comes to him and Batman; there’s a lot of stuff to play with there.
You’ve voiced Shazam on Justice League Unlimited animated films and video games. Those two characters always get compared to one another. What’s the difference in your approach with those two characters?
Oh, man, it’s so much fun. I mean, one is obviously a lot more immature than the other but they are a little bit similar in the sense that Superman and Shazam’s alter egos are both varying levels of innocence and, let’s say, ineptness. They’re both really fun to play, but Superman is the crown jewel, man. Death of Superman remains as my highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Again, there’s a level of finality to this, but would you be open to reprising your role as Superman in whatever capacity down the line?
Of course! Listen, if they’ll have me, I’d love to. You just never know. It’s totally up to Warner Bros. Animation; I might be a little too long in the tooth to be playing Superman anymore, they might be getting one of these whippersnappers. I might be playing Jor-El!
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War stars Matt Ryan as John Constantine, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Taissa Farmiga as Raven, Stuart Allan as Robin, Tony Todd as Darkseid, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Christopher Gorham as the Flash, Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane and Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor. The film is currently available digitally and will be available on Blu-ray May 19.’
Jerry O'Connell reflects on his time voicing Superman for the DC Animated Movie Universe, culminating in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.