Cyborg comes to Doom Patrol with the series’ second episode “Donkey Patrol” which drops this Friday, February 22 on DC Universe. While we have seen Victor Stone in live action before, including most recently Ray Fisher in Justice League, this is a new take, provided by actor Joivan Wade whose previous credits include Doctor Who.
We spoke with Joivan Wade at the recent Television Critics Association press tour about what it was like to bring the character to the eclectic and fun DC Universe series. More of our Doom Patrol interviews and coverage can be found here!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: We’ve seen Cyborg in live action before, in the movies and in Smallville. What was something that you tried to do to separate yourself from those previous interpretations?
JOIVAN WADE: I tried to look at the comics as opposed to the live action versions of what we’ve seen, and draw from that, as opposed to drawing from other performances, whether it would be Ray Fisher or the Smallville version, and really kind of hone in. I had an opportunity to do that due to the fact that it’s a different version of Cyborg. It’s much earlier on within his career of being Cyborg, and at the same time, he’s much more seasoned within it. He’s been fighting crime. That version of the Justice League, he’s only just getting used to what this whole thing is. And our version, you’re seeing that, but you also have him go out and be that superhero. So, he’s very okay with who he is, and that confidence that comes from being a superhero and being Cyborg. So yeah. I naturally had seen it all, because I’m a huge comic book fan, but I tried to stay away from that in terms of an actor, and drawing on that. I drew mainly from the comics, like Teen Titans. The Cyborg Rebirth comics. Even the cartoons. And even now, I’m getting to see the Vic Stone within Young Justice. And so, it’s great to be able to have all of these different sources.
People come to me and say “oh, is it more difficult?” And I say “No. I have the whole array and the buffet which is there to choose from, and I could pick what works for this version of the character.”
How does Victor Stone enter the world of the Doom Patrol?
Vic Stone enters the world of the Doom Patrol on a mission, essentially. He’s come and he’s basically trying to find Niles Caulder, and as he tries to find Niles Caulder, he learns that Niles has gone missing, and so he uses that in order to be able to rally up the team to go and find them. And also, in the back of his mind, he’s also wanting to be a part of the team, and also lead in a team, because he wants to be a part of the Justice League at some point, and this is a great opportunity or even training for him, to be able to discover himself more, and learn how to be the Cyborg in which he feels like he’s going to need to be in five years’ time when he eventually joins the Justice League. So he comes in all guns blazing, ready to kick ass and ready to put himself on this mission, and over time, we see him evolve, and that confidence also stars to break down as we go on that journey of Vic and we understand what’s actually happening.
When you auditioned for this role, were you told that it was going to be Cyborg?
I was told it would be Cyborg, yeah. It was amazing. For me, Cyborg is the most iconic African-American superhero, across different universes, and different comic books from DC, to Marvel, to everything. Cyborg is an icon. It’s an honor to be able to live that and essentially be a part of history, and bring that to life.
How did it feel when they first put the cybernetic parts on you that look just like they’re out of the comic book?
When I looked in the mirror for the first time, that was when it really sunk in. All of the background work in terms of character, understanding who this guy is and what his trials and tribulations are, his Achilles heel… but when I put the costume on for the first time, the full-on super suit as well as my eye piece and the mask and the robotic hands and gloves and everything, that’s when I really looked at myself and said “I am Vic Stone. I am Cyborg.” That’s when it really sunk in.
It’s amazing. Everything is practical, as well. We have little elements of CGI, but everything that you see on Cyborg is all practical, from the head piece to the costume which he has. LJ [Laura Jean Shannon] the costume designer is amazing. She designed the first Iron Man costume, and so was able to bring those elements. I think it’s going to be really cool for the fans, as we dive into the series and he is no longer in his track suit, and we get to see the full Cyborg… that’s going to be a real moment for everybody. We drip that and tease that throughout the episodes. It’s going to be fun.
Can you talk about what it was like to work with Phil Morris as Vic’s father, Silas Stone?
Phil is a beast. I loved working with Phil. He was a dream to work with. The relationship in which we had off set, from the jump, was there. The chemistry was strong from the get-go. The relationship between Vic and Silas is the biggest part of Vic’s journey and his trajectory throughout the series, and who better to be working with than Phil? He is a seasoned pro, and taught me a lot as I have been working with him. I think that people are going to love seeing what that looks like, and how that relationship works. We really get to dive into that – not just who Vic is, and who Silas is. Because that’s not something which has been touched on very much. We’re really going to get into that. Silas is a great character, and Phil brought that to life in a way that I haven’t seen before.
Are the other members of the team jealous of the notion that Vic actually still has living family members that he interacts with?
Yes. I think the other team members are jealous of a few things when it comes to Vic. He enters in a way which is very sure of himself, and essentially, he is already a superhero. Everyone else is trying to get rid of their power, and essentially, they see it as an Achilles heel. Not as a gift. They see it as a curse. And so, Vic starts off seeing that as a gift, and he is Cyborg, but as the series goes on, we start to see that it may not be as much of a gift as he thought it was. Maybe it is a curse, just like the others, and that’s how he really relates, and gets to the place where he feels at home, and feels like this is his family, because of the way that they all came about. They all went through freak accidents which resulted in something negative that they have to respond to. So, it’s a great opportunity for him to do so, and they definitely have feelings about that, and you get to see some of that from the remarks in which Robotman leaves, or Negative Man later on down the line, and especially Rita as time goes on. It’s a real love-hate relationship at the start, until the “family” becomes cemented.
You talked about a lot of practical effects, but Episode 2 actually shows visual effects with half of Vic’s face gone. Can you talk about what your reaction was when you saw that on the screen?
I was always thinking to myself “okay, how is that going to work,” right? And the one that really sticks out to me is a scene where we have a flashback of his origin story and he’s on the ground and half of his face has been burnt off. It looks phenomenal. There are elements of that which are makeup, and elements of that which are CGI. You would never be able to tell the difference of what’s CGI and what’s makeup because it’s done so well. And the CGI that we see throughout the series, even down to his cannon which is practical, that we’re going to see later on in the series, we are really excited about, but there are also elements of the CGI like his shield which you see in the trailer, and those elements work and marry really well with the practical side. But yeah. I’m blown away by the level and the quality of the CGI, especially for a TV show. It looks phenomenal.
When Cyborg references a big DC Comics character like The Flash, did you ask the writers which Flash you’re referring to?
Yeah. He was referring to the Flash within the Justice League. That’s what I was picturing in my mind.
Who is it in the Doom Patrol that Vic gets along with the best?
I would say he gets along [best] with Rita, but at the same time, she drives him up the wall in some ways. At the same time, Robotman, they have an amazing relationship. As you get throughout the series… I can’t wait as a fan to eventually experience, if they decide to bring Cyborg into Titans, and see that Beast Boy/Cyborg relationship, but we created something that is really special with Robotman and Vic in terms of that banter and that chemistry throughout the series also. He has a great relationship with Cliff, but at the same time, Cliff also drives him up the wall. I think in terms of the characters in which he has the best relationship with? I’d probably say maybe Negative Man, based on that there is never really any qualms with him at any point, but you’re going to really enjoy the relationship between him and Robotman the most, because the banter’s flying.
Is there a certain episode that you’re really looking forward to fans seeing?
We’re still shooting the series as we speak, so we still have five episodes left to shoot. We’ve shot ten so far. But I’m really looking forward to Episode 5. It’s just a really exciting episode for Vic and his character arc and journey.
Do you look at Cyborg in the cartoons in a different way, now that you’ve played him?
I do, yeah! Because Cyborg in the cartoons, you don’t really get to understand the psyche and the drama behind everything, because you see Cyborg within Teen Titans for example, and he’s just this jolly superhero kicking ass guy, but there are so many complexities to him which you don’t really get to see in Teen Titans, and now playing him and understanding that battle and what that is, I look at the version in the cartoon completely differently, because it’s like “okay. Well what’s happening behind all of this superhero facade which he has?” Which we don’t really get to experience in the cartoons, but we really get to dive into that in the series.
Do you think having appeared on Doctor Who prepared you for the fandom that a show like this might have?
Oh, for sure. Doctor Who — up until that point, I have yet to experience the real kind of DC fan base, but prior to this, Doctor Who fans have been solid. I can’t wait to relive that experience with the DC Universe and the DC comic fans, and see what this whole thing brings.
Doom Patrol Episode 2 “Donkey Patrol” lands on DC Universe Friday, February 22 — visit their site to subscribe! Photos from Episode 2 can be found below.