Yuri Lowenthal is one of the most prolific voice actors in the industry playing some of the most popular characters throughout his career like Ben 10, Spider-Man, and Sasuke Uchiha in the Naruto franchise. He’s had the privilege of playing in the DC Universe sandbox through a variety of roles and projects. But his first major DC Comics role was playing the Man of Steel himself, Superman, in the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon that ran on the Kids’ WB network for two seasons. As you can imagine, it’s a property that’s near and dear to to his heart. In the new Legion of Super-Heroes animated film, Lowenthal now comes full circle as the voice of Mon-El, another Superman pastiche character.
We had the fortune to chat with Yuri Lowenthal not only about adding yet another “El” to his credits but also his career and his experience recording remotely.
Taimur Dar: You’re no stranger to Legion of Super-Heroes having voiced Superman in the 2006 animated series. If I’m not mistaken that was your first DC superhero role. Now with Mon-El it seems like you’ve come full circle. How does it feel to revisit the Legion?
Yuri Lowenthal: It’s the best! I love this world and I fell in love with the Legion back when I was doing that show. And it’s nice to add another “El” to my credits. I’ve played Kal-El, Kell-El, Jor-El, and now Mon-El. [Laughs]. I’ll just keeping going and see how many “Els” they throw at me. I’ll do it! I’m up for the job! It’s super fun to come back. I loved working on that original show. I still love it. To get to come back and revisit the Legion but from a slightly different angle was super exciting. As with all Legion stories what we’re all excited about is which Legionnaires are they going to go with? What stories are they going to tell? What weird powers are we going to get to see? Long live the Legion!
Dar: I didn’t realize that until recently that James Tucker, the producer of the aforementioned Legion cartoon, wanted to include Mon-El but several Warner Bros. executives said he was “too similar” to Superman to work on a children’s show. So instead the they created the character of Kell-El/Superman X, the future clone of Superman. How did you play Mon-El differently than Superman or even Superman X?
Lowenthal: I remember James having that conversation and hearing him talk about Mon-El versus Kell-El and what they wanted and what it eventually was. Luckily that version of Mon-El, if you’re looking at Kell-El/Superman X as a Mon-El type, is very different in attitude and history and background than the Mon-El that we find ourselves with in this movie. In some ways they are opposite sides. Kell-El/Superman X was really moody and angry all the time. The Mon-El that we see in this version of Legion is like a Superman [and] Superman Family fanboy. He’s really up and smiley and I loved that take on him. We all found that together. It’s obviously in the writing. When he first meets Supergirl he’s just so excited. It worked well with my natural bubbly and happy guy qualities. It’s fun to come together to bring what I brought naturally and work it into the Mon-El that they had come up with for the film.
Dar: I don’t want to spoil too much for people so they can see the film for themselves but this version of Mon-El is probably the most different than how he’s been portrayed previously. In preparing for the role did you look at the original comics or source material or just what you had with the script?
Lowenthal: It was more the latter. I find when I jump into a character that has an established history that I don’t know at all, I will always go and look and do some research. But I was familiar enough with Mon-El. I’m not saying that I know everything about Mon-El. As a matter of fact, I hear that he made some appearances recently in the live-action Supergirl show that I haven’t seen. Some people asked me if I looked at that at all and unfortunately, I didn’t know about it until now. But now I want to go and watch it. But I mostly came with the knowledge that I already had about the character and just started asking questions. The more information I got both from the script and going in and working with Wes Gleason, our voice director, and discussing with the whole team what they were looking for, we all crafted this Mon-El together in the room.
Dar: Speaking of Wes Gleason, it’s pretty easy to tell when voice actors get along with voice directors, especially when they work together so often. How would you describe the working relationship between you and Wes Gleason?
Lowenthal: I aways hate to reveal any secrets from behind the curtain but when I’m working with Wes it’s hardly work. [Laughs]. We’ve known each other long enough and spent enough time together that we relish the times we get to work together because it’s so much fun. These days we don’t hang out the same way that we used to. So getting together in any way, shape, or form is always great. I’m glad that my joy in working with Wes comes out in the performance.
Dar: A few months back I had a press junket with Will Friedle and I noted how he’s usually cast to play classic hero characters. Though you’re no stranger to playing villains, like Mirror Master in the Injustice animated movie, I mostly associate you with hero characters like Ben 10, Spider-Man, He-Man, and so many others. Do you find you are most often sought to play heroes?
Lowenthal: I think that is my niche, guys who want to do the right thing. That’s why whenever I do get a chance to play a character like Mirror Master or any villain, I will jump at the chance. There’s just something fun about getting the okay to be bad [and] act in a way you would never act in real life. That’s always fun and I enjoy that. But I would say that my bread and butter are heroes. And you know what? That’s okay. That’s probably who I am on the inside.
Dar: Years back I used to work at Barnes & Noble and I’d always try to pop by the Performing Arts section to glance at the Voice-Over Voice Actor book you wrote with your wife. There’s a section in the book about home studio set-up which I’m sure came in handy these last few years. Has there been anything new or unexpected you learned or discovered during this time of remote voice recording?
Lowenthal: On one hand it’s nice and convenient that I don’t have to leave the house. But when I record at home these days I am a bit overwhelmed having to manage all the audio engineering on my side. Audio engineers go to school and study to become experts at this thing and they have these skills that I just don’t have. That can occasionally stress me out. I’ve learned to manage it in a way that works for the people on the other end. But I do miss the days when I can just show up and do one job instead of doing a bunch of other jobs! [Laughs]. But I am grateful that we were able to continue working throughout the pandemic. Some of the only actors at the time who could keep working were voice actors. I’ll never be able to overstate how grateful I am about that.
Legion of Super-Heroes arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on February 7, 2023