Cool costumes and superpowers aside, there's nothing easy about being a superhero — just ask Ms. Marvel, one of the few female members of the mostly testosterone-driven Superhero Squad.
But even if the job comes with its hardships, at least voice actress Grey DeLisle gets to have a good time. She supplies the voice for Ms. Marvel on "The Superhero Squad Show," Marvel's family friendly animated series that airs Saturday nights on Cartoon Network. Despite the show's lighthearted tone, DeLisle plays Ms. Marvel as a strong, serious and organized superhero leader — except when magic love potions make her fall in love with creatures like M.O.D.O.K., that is.
CBR News spoke with DeLisle about her career as a voice actress, her work as Ms. Marvel and the Enchantress on "Superhero Squad," what fans can expect from the upcoming two-part season finale, and also her recent roles on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and "G.I. Joe: Resolute."
CBR News: Grey, you've got an incredibly impressive voice-acting resume on the geek circuit even going beyond "The Superhero Squad Show." How did you get started on this career path?
Grey DeLisle: I used to just scream all the time for everything. When I was in second grade or something, I'd get a hall pass and start screaming bloody murder in the bathroom. Every teacher and janitor would come in and ask what was going on, and I'd say, "I'm just… screaming." They asked why I would do that, and I said, "I don't know!" [Laughs]
When I moved to Los Angeles, I did that a lot because I have this bloodcurdling scream. Little by little, I got parts here and there. I started out doing standup comedy, because I was good at impressions, but I wasn't very funny. My impressions were good, but I wasn't that hilarious. Someone told me that I do great impressions and I should do some voiceover. So I met one person and did one just here or there, but once they start to get to know you, you start getting the call a lot more.
People like Tom Kenny and I, we're low maintenance with no attitude. We'll just come into do our job, so people call us because we're easier to work with. There's a smaller group of people that get called a lot. Working with [casting director] Jamie Simone, I think he just kept keeping me in mind for these superhero type roles. I was probably just at the top of his head for these types of roles and it's been great.
What was it about "Superhero Squad" in particular that made you want to work on the show?
It's funny, because I couldn't put my finger on it. I was reading the script and I wasn't getting the tongue-in-cheek nature of it until I saw it come to life with the actors and when I saw the pictures where all the characters were squat. It was very unexpected — it wasn't like any of the other superhero shows that I've done. It was very creative. It's a smart little show that caught me off guard.
And I was telling [another reporter] that I was so star-struck by celebrities! [Laughs] Most of these celebrities, I feel like they're above the cartoon thing, but they've got big time and fun geeky people like George Takei and Adam West. My favorite part of working on the show is getting to meet these celebrities. I was so excited to meet Stan Lee. I got to the studio and there weren't a lot of cars in the parking lot, so I said, "Is it just me recording by myself?" And they said, "Oh, Stan Lee is here." And I said, "Stanley? Who is Stanley and why does he go by his first name — is he too good for a last name?" And then it dawned on me — "Oh my god!" [Laughs] He was so fun and talented.
That must be part of the fun of this job, the collaboration process with the other voice actors.
Oh, it's like a big radio play. Some shows have too many conflicting schedules that you have to record by yourself, which isn't a lot of fun. But this show, they make every effort to let the actors play with one another, and we improvise so much. Tom Kenny is so funny. Everybody always has their funny little thing, which makes it 80% more fun. The writers are really creative and fun about letting us play and taking our input, so it's a big goof-off session. I've worked with most of the people in ["Superhero Squad"] several times before and I see them in my personal life, so I can't believe that we get paid for it. All of the stuff I got in trouble for in high school, I get paid for it! [Laughs]
You play Ms. Marvel on "Superhero Squad," among other roles. What have you discovered about the character over the course of working on the series?
I really relate to Ms. Marvel. I hate to admit it because she's such a tight-ass and she's so bossy. [Laughs] Not to get all astrology on you, but I like to keep things orderly in my house — I don't like mail and crap on the table — and I'm always picking up after my husband and sons. We have two boy dogs, so I'm the only girl. And at work I'm the only girl, because usually they only hire one woman for a session because they can do the kids and don't really need more than one woman. So in my life already, I identified with Ms. Marvel, which is embarrassing to admit. [Laughs] But she's got a sweet side. She's cute. She can be annoying, but you've got to hand it to her, she keeps that ship pretty tidy.
She sure is cute with M.O.D.O.K.!
[Laughs] That was a great episode! It was really fun, because we don't usually get to see Ms. Marvel have fun, let go and get googley. She looks down on that stuff so much. You get a lot of scripts to read at once and I hadn't gotten to that one yet, so I figured I'd just read the scripts in between takes and I'd try to figure out what's going on. [Supervising producer] Cort Lane pulled me aside right before I started recording and said, "This episode is so great because you fall in love with M.O.D.O.K.!" And I go, "What?" [Laughs] That was a fun surprise; I didn't know I was going to get to do that. That episode was a highlight. I adore Tom Kenny, who plays M.O.D.O.K., so it was fun to improvise with him. "You're just a little muffin basket!" Things like that. [Laughs] We had a lot of fun making googley noises. That episode was definitely fun. It was definitely a favorite.
You also play Enchantress, a very different character from Ms. Marvel. How do you switch gears between the two?
She's so after her man. I think the accent helps a lot. She's in my lower register, so it's easy to get in touch with those darker emotions. She's slower, more calculating. Ms. Marvel is always trying to get everything done, but with Enchantress, I get to slow down. It's a welcome relief when I get to play both parts, because she's such an opposite side of the coin.
In addition to voice acting, you're also a singer, and you got to combine the two skills as Black Canary on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" in the "Mayhem of the Music Maestro" episode.
That was a blast. It was so fun. And the music was so beautiful! When I was learning the music, I thought, "Wow, this is really special. The writing is amazing. This is Broadway quality writing." I was really honored to be included. When it got such an amazing reaction at Comic-Con with a standing ovation, I was so proud to be involved. That was a lot of fun.
"Superhero Squad" and "Brave and the Bold" are both family friendly shows, but you've done some more serious or dramatic voice work as well, like "G.I. Joe: Resolute." That project in particular has some hardcore content, especially compared to "Superhero Squad." Is it hard to tap into these darker tones?
I'm such a bubbly and happy person in real life that it's kind of fun to go to my dark place and do something violent. [Laughs] Even when people are like, "If you're angry, hit the pillow!" Well, I don't want to hit the pillow! I'll just cry. [Laughs] It's a pretty easy gearshift. A lot of times in an episode, you play a lot of characters, and sometimes you'll be asked to do two characters back-to-back and switch between voices. It's par for the course; I think everybody is kind of used to it.
The "G.I. Joe" stuff, we did that in one day and there were only four people or so there. I think I played close to four characters — Scarlett, the Baroness, and there was one more that I can't remember. The cocky little young one.
It was Dial Tone, right?
Yes, that's it! That was really fun. We got there really early and said, "Let's get this done." We pulled out all of the tricks.
The two-part season finale for "Superhero Squad" is coming up soon. Can you talk about your role in these episodes?
Ms. Marvel is always trying to save the world — I'm a rescuer, I'm always taking care of my flock — so Ms. Marvel tries to build a big arc to rescue all of the people of earth before Galactus comes and blows it up. [Laughs] That's my role in that final episode. But we don't know if she's successful or not — you'll have to tune in on February 13th!
Grey DeLisle plays Ms. Marvel and The Enchantress on "The Superhero Squad Show." The final two episodes of the season, "Last Exit Before Doomsday" and "This Al Dente Earth," air on February 13th and February 20th at 7:30 PM, only on Cartoon Network.