With stories and characters sometimes adapted from the New Teen Titans comic book series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Teen Titans was a bit of a force to be reckoned with between 2003 and 2006 on the Cartoon Network. Now the Titans are back with a new series called Teen Titans Go! airing Tuesday nights at 7:30 on the Cartoon Network. The new show brings back the original voice actors from the well loved series, including Scott Menville, who portrayed the voice of Robin and reprises that role for Teen Titans Go!
We were able to speak with Mr. Menville earlier this week to talk about what it's like to return to playing the Boy Wonder in a new environment. Our questions to Scott are posted in bold; his answers are not. Enjoy the interview!
The Titans cast all first got back together for the New Teen Titans shorts last year; is that correct?
That is right. Yes.
What was it like to reunite with the old gang?
It was amazing. Any of them will tell you that from Day One on the very first series, when we all got in a room together, everybody looked at each other and was like "yeah. This is special."
Every actor is solid, and we all get along, we're good friends, and we all are actually hanging out from time to time outside of work. So getting together for those shorts was amazing. Greg Cipes and Khary Payton have talked about this a lot. For years, Greg Cipes has been putting out the positive energy, and just so confident that the show would come back, so when that happened for those one-minute episodes, we were all like "Wow, Greg. You brought it forth, man." So, anyway. That's a long winded answer to us basically being happy to be doing this.
Had you all done any convention appearances together in the interim years?
We did Comic-Con 2004, and then everybody except me did Comic-Con 2005. I was in a band at the time, and we were committed to play a big radio show in New York that weekend, so I couldn't make it. So, yeah. There's been two times where everybody's been there, pretty much.
How do you approach this series in comparison to the original Teen Titans series?
Honestly, we had to kind of find our footing for the first couple sessions, because the tone is very different. The first series was darker at times, and more serious, and this one is really pushing the comedy. So, I think the difference in approaching both is that we just had to really trust that we're being led in a good direction by our producers and director, which proved to be that we are, and everybody really just had to kind of roll off any inhibitions and just go for it.
I mean, there are times when we've all questioned "Okay. Would Robin really say this here? Would so and so really do that?" And more often than not, the answer is yes.
Would you say this series offers more opportunity to explore your comedic side, and had you done a series that was fun like that before?
Yeah. I think all of us have done comedic series before. I've definitely done wacky ones for other studios which have been a blast, and I'm on a couple other shows right now, aside from Titans, that are really pushing the comedy which is fun, but for Titans... I mean, Beast Boy and Cyborg have always gotten good comedy, but for Robin, to be able to explore the comedy of that character, has been so fun. It's been such a gift. Just the little taste that you guys saw in the first two episodes that aired, and what you're going to see [tonight], are great. They're funnier, and we get put in even crazier situations. I just can't wait for future episodes to be airing. It's a real treat. To have the writers writing and giving us opportunities as actors in these roles to go to areas that we've never gone to before, is really cool.
You mentioned that you performed with a band, and in the first episode of Teen Titans Go! Cyborg and Beast Boy cut into a song about pie. Is there any chance Robin will join in any of that at any point?
I think it's safe to say that you will see each Titan singing something at some point.
Might we ever hear the classic theme song on the new series?
There's a good possibility of that, in some shape or form.
How would you pitch Teen Titans Go! to someone who may not have given it a chance so far?
To somebody who's familiar with the original series, I would say... actually, I'm going to even direct it toward people who may be dubious and hesitant because they're attached to the original series.
I will say that I appreciate the love that those people have for the original series, and I take it to heart. Some of my favorite episodes on the original series were the dark, very serious episodes. However, in this series, you get to see what goes on behind the scenes a lot. You get to see what the Titans are like in their downtime, at home. You get to see the personality quirks that come out, that you wouldn't get to normally see on the original series. Look at it this way: You get to see the Titans in situations that you would never see before.
Yes, it is geared to a little bit younger of an audience, but that doesn't mean that the older audiences can't enjoy it. On the contrary, we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from die hard fans who were ready and set to not like this show, and people were like "Oh my gosh. I love this! This is great." So I guess I kind of look at it like a parent would look at two kids. You love them in different ways.
On that note, do you think we'll ever see the full sized, more serious Titans again?
I would love to. I don't know. That's up to the Powers That Be. But in the meantime, we have this wonderful, amazing show that is bringing such joy to us actors as we record them, and I mention again, it's only going to continue to bring more and more joy to the people who are watching.
What is a recording session like for a show like Titans? Do you do multiple episodes at a time, and are you all there at the same time?
I will say, one thing that is special about this show, is not every show that a voice actor works on, do you get to record with the entire cast. On Titans, unless there's some strange thing where somebody's out of town that week or whatever, we pretty much record as an entire cast, which is amazing, because then you can feed off each other. Cyborg can throw in an ad-lib that will make Beast Boy say something that's not necessarily scripted, and you really get to play off of each other. So that's a plus side, that we're always there together.
We usually record two 11-minute episodes. So, what you see in a half hour are usually both recorded in the same session.
Can you talk about how Robin interacts with some of the other Titans in this series?
Gosh, there are so many things that I want to say, but I don't want to get in trouble for spoiling...
Well, go from the first episode that we've already seen, maybe?
I think Robin, of course, is a leader, and often finds himself perturbed that as the leader, he's finding himself in very pedestrian, mundane situations such as sitting in a grocery store, taking a number, and waiting to get bread for a sandwich. That's something that I'm sure he's just baffled, that with all of his skills and powers and knowledge, why he would be the one to be sitting there doing that. So, you can look for more situations where Robin is wrestling with wanting something more or different than what's going on.
Speaking of things that Robin might want, will we still see some chemistry between Robin and Starfire?
I think you could not have a Titans series without that. That's something that's so ingrained in it. So, yeah. I think we will see some more of that tone.
Might we ever see Red X or Nightwing again?
We might! There's also a possibility of seeing some villains that we did see in the original series, popping up here.
Looking at your IMDb profile, I noticed you had voiced Bucky/The Winter Soldier on Marvel's Avengers animated series. Was that an intentional casting, considering you had been Robin?
I don't know, but I do know that Ciro Nieli was one of the producers on that, and he originally started out on Titans, so Ciro and I have a friendship and a relationship as we've worked together before. He absolutely knew I was Robin when he was bringing me in as Bucky, so that may have been some intentional casting there.
What can you tell us about this week's episodes "Driver's Ed" and "Raven's Daddy Dearest?"
Well, "Raven's Daddy Dearest," you get to see the return of Trigon, which will be cool, and also voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson who voiced him in the original series. I don't know how much I'm allowed to say, but it'll be a funny episode. "Driver's Ed," you get to see Robin, yet again doing a very pedestrian, mundane thing that everybody has to go through: Getting their driver's license. But Robin? Really? He drives the R-Cycle. Would he really have to go to the DMV to get a driver's license? I guess so. So what does he do? How does he handle it? It'll be interesting.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Right now, I'm recurring on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I get to work with Greg Cipes, Beast Boy, who is one of the Turtles. I'm not a Turtle, but I get to recur on that show. I'm on a new show for Disney Jr. called The Seven D, which is gonna be a really cute show. I play two regular characters on a new show called Angry Little Asian Girl which will be released sometime this year, which is for more of an adult audience.
How many episodes are planned for Teen Titans Go! so far?
Well, so far we've got the order of, I believe it's 26 half hours. Beyond that, we hope to do more.
What was your reaction when you saw how good the ratings were last week for the premiere?
Super excited. I know that I love it, and I know that the five of us Titans have a blast recording this, and our director Lisa Schaffer has a blast directing this, but there are other things where we've had a blast, and they were shows that were short-lived. So, you never know. I don't take anything for granted. I'm very grateful for the positive response and the outpouring from the fans. I can speak on behalf of Tara Strong, who is Raven. Hynden Walch, who is Starfire. Khary Payton, Cyborg. Greg Cipes, Beast Boy. We don't take that for granted. We're so grateful to the fans that people are loving this series.
A new Teen Titans Go! airs tonight at 7:30PM on The Cartoon Network. Take a look at some preview images below. Our thanks to Scott Menville for taking the time to do this interview!