Todd McFarlane Talks about Selecting the Cast
Friday, August 19, 2005

When I last updated you on our casting endeavors, we left off with my call to Charlie Adler, our casting agent on the show, who promised to come back to us in a week with a list of his choices. Charlie, good to his word, sent over a list of recognizable names including live action actors as well as known voice over talent. From the list we slowly collected audition MP3 files of each actor. They all read for at least two different characters. What a delight it was to have eight years of technology on our side when listening to these as compared with the first go around. Back in the HBO days we were listening to DAT tapes that had to be replayed adding hours to an already long process. Now it was a snap to replay bits and pieces of auditions that I liked, or skip some altogether that I disliked within the first five seconds.

The selection process was slow going as we had anywhere from five to ten actors for each part to critique. The characters voices are such a subjective choice it was nice to have many options. With so many options I was able to match the sound for each character that I had in my head with a real voice. I'd always rather have too many choices than not enough and in this case it really worked to our advantage. Since Spawn was already taken care of, what would have been the hardest decision for me was over before we even started.

Keith David, ("Spawn: The Animated Series," "Pitch Black,") was at the top of my list for Spawn, since he had done such an excellent job in the HBO series. I couldn't imagine anyone else for the role. When Keith was approached for the part he was more than happy to return as the voice of Spawn and we were thrilled to have him back. One down, eleven to go.

One of the names I was happy to see on the list was Michael Jai White, ("Spawn," "Exit Wounds,") who all of you should remember as portraying Spawn in our live action movie in 1997. I was pleased with his audition for Barabbas, one of our main "bad" characters, and happy for the opportunity to have both Spawn actors working together on the project. With Keith back as Spawn, which instantly gives continuity to the animated show in relation to the HBO animation, it was nice to be able to find a part for Michael Jai since we consider him part of the Spawn family.

The third voice that was nailed down was for Captain Edwards, the police chief. When I heard the voice of Carl Weathers ("Rocky," "Predator") I thought he was perfect. He had the right amount of authority in his voice and his delivery of the lines was close to perfect without any direction. He truly is an accomplished actor.

One of our lead characters, Marie, posed a bit of a challenge. In the script she is in her very early twenties but has lived quite a difficult life. Although she's young, I didn't want her to sound like a sorority girl. She needed to have a weathered voice for lack of a better word, it had to help portray the tough times she's had and the mental cruelty she is currently dealing with. After a lot of searching we found Cree Summer, ("Atlantis: The Lost Empire," "Star Wars: Clone Wars") who is able to capture Marie's life experience while keeping a youthful tone in her voice in just the way I was hoping for.

One character who was relatively easy to cast was our Detective Ainge. He was one of the first characters we heard and right away I chose Bruce Boxleitner. Another impressive addition to our cast, as he has been doing voice over work for years in addition to his role as Capt. John J. Sheridan in "Babylon 5" and many other movie and television roles.

A couple not so easy casting choices were for our two favorite detectives. Casting, much like the character design, Sam and Twitch gave us the biggest challenge in finding the right fit for the voices. I gave them both an age range 35-40 and 41-44 respectively and a tone for each I wanted them to achieve; deep and hungry for Sam and reserved, yet smart for Twitch. We heard everything from too old, too deep to too much accent for Sam. When we finally decided on Jon Polito ("The Rocketeer," "The Man Who Wasn't There") because he didn't put too much on the accent and his pitch was just right, deep, scratchy with a little bit of urgency, I think it was worth the search. Twitch was even harder.

For some reason my direction on what I was hoping for and what casting was hearing me say wasn't matching up. However we did eventually find a gem, another recognizable name we were happy to add to the cast, Mark Hamill ("Star Wars," "Batman: The Animated Series") will be our Twitch. Mark is a pro. He did three different auditions in three subtly different examples of the voice. His auditions showed a wide range of emotions as well. We were lucky to land him in such a pivotal role for our project.

Rounding out the cast is an impressive list with some recognizable faces if not names. We are happy to have Clancy Brown ("The Shawshank Redemption," "The Batman,") Jesse Corti ("Cita's World," "American Dragon,") Phil LaMarr ("Pulp Fiction," "Samurai Jack") Peter Jessop ("Resident Evil," "Medal of Honor") and Kittie ("Cita's World," "American Dragon") in the new Spawn: Animation cast.