The Bat family is back in the newest addition to the WB Batman series, Batman: Bad Blood! Director Jay Oliva, character designer Phil Bourassa and cast members Sean Maher, Yvonne Strahovski and Travis Willingham took some time to chat with Blast Magazine about their latest project sure to please Batman fans everywhere. Sean Maher returns as Nightwing in his third film of the series, while newcomer Yvonne Strahovski wows as Batwoman in her first entry into the Batman universe. Travis Willingham, no stranger to the superhero world, portrays a powerful new villain, The Heretic, in this animated adventure produced by Warner Brothers Animation.
As a veteran to this film series and his character, Sean Maher approached his preparation differently for this film than his previous roles, explaining that he felt like he “knew Nightwing really well and wanted to come at this with a fresh spontaneous take.” Unlike his previous journeys into the Batman realm, Maher said that while working on this project, he “felt extremely comfortable in his role and wasn’t scared of anything.”
While Maher had a strong understanding of who he was portraying, Yvonne Strahovski and Travis Willingham, rookies to their super roles, did their own forms of research to ensure their character portrayals were as strong as possible. Strahovski focused on working with the creative team to understand what their vision for Batwoman in this film was. She looked over the artwork with them and many of the action sequences to “get a really strong sense of what the tone of the project was.” The script was also a guiding light for her as she said that “the writing really influences the character and it gave me such a sense of direction.” Travis Willingham had a more difficult time with his preparation as his character, The Heretic, is a lesser known figure than his fellow actors’ roles. When first told about his role, Willingham was excited by the name, saying that he “thought it was so great and powerful,” but soon realized that he “had no idea who that was.” After searching online and realizing that his character was only mentioned in a few iterations, he poured through all of them, focusing on exactly how his character would play into the film and how to best bring the villain to life.
Working in such a well-known universe brings its own unique set of pressures, as confirmed by everyone in the cast, as well as by director Jay Oliva. Oliva said that much of the pressure comes from the devoted fans, adding that “the fans are amazing but at the same time, there are so many people who either completely hate or completely love what we do.” Oliva tries to remain true to the roots of the character, saying that “ultimately, I try to keep in mind what people love and hate about a character and make decisions based on that.” Willingham was grateful to “be off the hook a little bit” as his character is lesser known and there are no previous 3D depictions of him, but added that “anytime you’re going to fight Batman, you gotta be a cool villain.” He referenced previous Batman villains, saying that “if you’re not crazy like The Joker or brilliant like The Riddler or wacky like The Penguin, you just have to be as menacing and cold as possible.” However, character designer, Phil Bourassa, has moved past feeling pressure from outside depictions and fan opinions, after realizing that “it’s impossible to please everybody and ultimately, it’s always cool to be able to do your own take on a classic.” While Bourassa says he “definitely has some humility because these characters have existed for such a long time,” he notes that “every person brings their own take on the roles and adds something unique to the process.”
Strahovski and Maher have both been crucial parts of fan-favorite live-action series in the past, the former playing “Sarah Walker” on Chuck and the latter portraying “Simon Tam” on Firefly. Both have an affinity for animation and live-action projects, appreciating how different yet equally exciting they are. While “one is more 3D and gives you the opportunity to focus on everything going on, the other allows you to show up in your tracksuit and not focus on anything but your voice,” says Strahovski. Maher shares her dual passion, saying that he “misses certain aspects of live-action when recording and vice-versa.” He notes that one of the strengths to recording, however, is “being able to shake your pelvis and jump around to tap into the character,” which he finds a beneficial preparation method as he is a very physical actor. Both actors couldn’t pick a favorite and were thankful to be able to get to experience both during their careers.
For superhero newcomer, Yvonne Strahvoski, this experience is one that will always be remembered. She is truly grateful for her role, saying that “it was an honor to represent a character that hadn’t been voiced in this series yet and a blessing to even be a part of something like this.”
The film is now available for purchase and as Yvonne Strahovski says, “it’s action-packed, fun, feisty and a great ride.”