In the latest series of promotional interviews to promote the Wonder Woman animated movie due out March 3, Warner Home Video has distributed a Q&A with Vicki Lewis (NewsRadio). Surprisingly, at least to me, she plays Amazon Persephone, described as “one of the key characters in the Amazon’s battle with Ares.”
Also surprising to me is that this is her second DCU appearance. She previously voiced Iris West, the Flash’s fiancee, in Justice League: The New Frontier.
QUESTION: When you read the Wonder Woman script, what was your first impression of Persephone?
VICKI LEWIS: I’ll be honest, I knew nothing about the mythology of any of this. I got the script, and often times I just kind of look at my part, but this is a fascinating story. I ended up spending half a night on Wikipedia going through the real mythology of the character. Persephone is a very fascinating character in Greek mythology and the comic books. I wasn’t a great student, so I love any opportunity at my age to learn something new. So that’s how I prepared.
[JDC: I’m unfamiliar with a Persephone in the Wonder Woman comic, and so is Wikipedia.]
QUESTION: What endeared you to the role of Persephone?
VICKI LEWIS: I do a lot of animation, and mostly I get cast as the whacky character. I play a lot of kids, or the strange neighbor next door, or the really off-the-wall person in the script. But this was really enticing because Persephone is a solid, commanding woman. It was an interesting process to find and place her (vocally) — she’s a powerful character, and the direction was ‘less is more’ in the grand scheme of this Greek tragedy. I’m very rarely asked to play the powerful, centered part of myself. It’s always there, but I don’t get to use it often (in performance). I played Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” so I think I drew mainly on that character. But this was a great experience. I expected to come in and they would ask me to act like an idiot, which is what I usually get paid to do. So this was an interesting recording session.
[JDC: And that’s a good part of what interests me about her in this role — it is very different from the performances I’ve seen her in.]
QUESTION: Was there a favorite moment for you during the recording session?
VICKI LEWIS: When you have 900 people staring at you through the glass of the recording booth, and whispering but you can’t hear them, you really want to make sure you give them what they want. And I felt like I got it, because I understood the emotion. This character, Persephone, has some very heartfelt and sad moments, and it was really vulnerable and really human. It wasn’t cartoony — it touched something somewhat real. So I was actually affected by it in a way I didn’t expect to be.
QUESTION: Was it fun playing the bad girl?
VICKI LEWIS: It’s always fun being the bad girl. When I was young, I had Barbie dolls and I made them fly. And then my friends deserted me because I turned them into witches. I was always THAT kid. I didn’t even know what a comic book was.
[JDC: Thank you, Vicki, for pointing out how silly that question is. Trust a PR person to stick with the obvious.]
QUESTION: Much of the fanboy populus is into gaming. Are you a gamer?
VICKI LEWIS: I’m not into the games like the kids play today, but I was addicted to Tetris. I had the Trio, and the Tetris was on it and then my fiancÃƒÂ© got me the iPhone for my birthday and I love it. But it doesn’t have Tetris. So I’ve kept the Trio’s battery alive to play Tetris. I used to be addicted to Pacman. We were doing “The Wizard of Oz” at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre, so we were stuck in the middle of Kansas and we would go to the House of Pies every night because they had a Pacman machine in their lobby. And we were obsessed with it.
[JDC: I believe that should be “Treo”, like the Palm smartphone. And I don’t know what this question has to do with the Wonder Woman movie, unless someone said “isn’t there ANYTHING geeky she can talk about?”]
QUESTION: You glide smoothly between stage, film, television and animation voiceover performances. All three require different techniques. What’s the trick to making the transition for voiceover work?
VICKI LEWIS: I started out in theatre in New York and then I did movies and I’d been out (in Hollywood) for nine months when I got NewsRadio and it was all a really interesting transition. Somebody who’d been around for a long time came up to me and basically said that the difference between stage and film and television is that on stage the proscenium is where you can see it. Film and television, it’s really got to be here (spreads her arms wide). In terms of turning that into voice work, sometimes the voice is very subtle, and sometimes I’m so loud they have me move away from the mike. So in voiceovers, you learn where the proscenium is in your voice. As far as acting, I’ve been working for so long that I can basically tap into any emotion. I’m like a little trained monkey at this point. So it’s just a matter of finding that place, and adjusting vocally as you would onstage or in film.
For voiceovers, like Wonder Woman, I feel really blessed that I’m able to do this and that Andrea (Romano) continues to hire me. She always lifts my spirits, she always makes me better, and she’s always so gracious. I keep thinking, ‘When is she going to see through me, that I don’t have any of this talent she’s thanking me for?’ She’s just so great, such an amazing director.
And now, here’s the reason I wanted to run this: an adorable picture of Vicki Lewis with New Frontier author Darwyn Cooke at WonderCon 2008.