TCA 19: ‘Doom Patrol’ Finds Wonder in the Strangeness of Life

Doom Patrol‘s first episode drops February 15th, making it the second original series on DC Universe’s streaming service – Young Justice: Outsiders was, after all, a sequel to the Cartoon Network show. As such, comparisons to Titans will be inevitable, given that member of the new team made their debut on that show in the first place. But while both groups bond through their powers, the latter spend much more time getting in touch with their emotions as well as each other’s, and the weird Big Bad makes his presence known much sooner. The actors and producers were on hand at the TCAs last week to explain just what to expect from the newest DC show.

Cyborg: once more, with feeling

Brendan Fraser, who voices Robot Man and plays his human counterpart Cliff Steele, credited fellow actor Riley Shanahan with doing the “heavy lifting” by acting as the body inside Robot Man’s suit. “I don’t wear the suit that often, pieces of it in episodes, but stay tuned.” While he claimed his biggest challenge has been not boring audiences with his vocal performance, Diane Guerrero has faced a much bigger challenge playing Crazy Jane and all of her alternate personalities. “I just saw how complex and dynamic this role was, and I really wanted to challenge myself,” she gushed. “And believe me, this show has challenged me.” Executive Producer Sarah Schechter chimed in to praise Guerrero for her audition, citing the range it took to play 64 different characters. “The second we saw her tape, it was sort of over for us. And we couldn’t get it out of our mind. I don’t know what it says about [her], but [she] really naturally understood the character.”

As for Joivan Wade, he has the weight of the Cyborgs who have come before him to live up to. The young actor remained optimistic, saying, “It’s a great opportunity for me, personally, to be able to have my own take on it, and really bring it to life in a way that hasn’t been seen yet.” He explained this his iteration of Victor Stone is one who’s just come into his powers, a long way off from an established member of the Justice League. “You can really see a clear distinction between this version of the character and other versions. And it’s really exciting to be able to experience this as opposed to what we’ve already seen on screen.”

April Bowlby, who has taken on the role of ex-Hollywood darling Rita Farr, the biggest obstacle was getting into character rather than having to put on Elastigirl’s prosthetics. “Most of it is CGI,” she confessed. “It’s only happened once with the prosthetics. Most of it is CGI and we have a great stunt team, so they teach me how to move as a blob and they take from that and create the CGI around it. I’m very supported in the effort; it’s mostly not me at all.”

Regardless of the characters’ – and therefore actors’ – individual struggle, the story revolves around how they come together to form a tight bond thanks to their shared experiences. Wade compared that fictional camaraderie to the very real atmosphere on set. “I wasn’t around for the first episode, and as soon as I came on set for the second episode, in the same way that Vic comes into this family of the Doom Patrol, Joivan came into this family of amazing talent and great people which just accepted that. It feels like a family on set every day.” He was confident that chemistry would shine through the screen and, in the first two episodes at least, it most certainly does. That community was extended to the suit actors as well, whom Fraser commended for their fantastic albeit unseen performances. “Their performances really pressed through what is effectively a mask of costume in the mech suits,” the star said. “After watching it, you really don’t need the facial expressions that would come with a living, breathing actor to get across what the meaning is.”

Might Doom Manor reside on Danny Street?

Perhaps the biggest challenge of Doom Patrol comes from its biggest subversion: filtering the origin of a group of superheroes through the perspective of villain. Alan Tudyk’s narration as Mr. Nobody accounts for a good portion of the humor in the show, but it’s also impossible to take his words at face value because he despises the subjects of his discourse. As showrunner Jeremy Carver teased, “It very, very much goes to the heart of what Mr. Nobody’s intent is this season.” Fraser spoke a few words in defense of the resident baddie, adding, “He’s just as much of a misfit as we all are in their own way from how they begin.” Tudyk himself agreed with that assessment. “As you continue to watch they’re even more and more alike. They have things in common.”

Finally, some comic book fans may be wondering if Doom Patrol will adhere to the canon version of Niles Caulder, a rather dark and sinister figure when all is said and done. Without giving too much away, Carver teased that, “The show is dipping into different versions of the Doom Patrol from the years. A great jumping off point is the Grant Morrison run in the ’90s.” He explained that they would “rather let the story grow itself week to week and let the fans discover the show for themselves,” but did hint at which iconic characters might be making the leap from page to screen. “We dip into the Silver Age, where we are seeing the Celsius and Lodestone characters. We’re going to see some other characters that have graced [us] over the years, such as Danny the Street [and] Beard Hunter.”

Doom Patrol premieres Friday, February 15th on the DC Universe streaming service.