Gina Torres, Superwoman
On Monday, I identified Gina Torres as giving the best vocal performance in this week’s Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Courtesy of Warner Home Video, here’s an interview with the women we know for her work on Alias, Angel, Firefly and countless other films and television series.
Torres had an unanticipated assist in bringing about the powerful, yet sultry voice of Superwoman, coming into the booth in the final days of a bad flu that slightly lowered her vocal range and added a smoky sexiness to the outstanding performance. Even more impressive is her perfect match with the voice of Owlman, James Woods – considering the two actors recorded on opposite coasts, weeks apart, and have never met each other.
Torres has also spent some time in the animated world, working with Warner Bros. Animation as Vixen on Justice League.
QUESTION: As you stepped into the sound booth to voice Superwoman, were you actually feeling wickedly sexy, delightfully cruel and ultimately powerful … or was that all just acting?
GINA TORRES: I’m so glad they called me to do Superwoman, (she laughs) because I was in the mood to get back in there and be a badass. Superwoman is one of those super heroes that knows her power, and is very comfortable in her power. And it’s all cat – it’s no mouse with her. She likes to bat around her prey and she really enjoys what she’s doing.
In the booth, you sort of have to become this person. When you’re not on stage with other actors and you’re not on camera, you really get to free up your body and do all kinds of things that maybe aren’t as pretty on camera. You get to have a good time getting your whole body involved in the interpretation.
QUESTION: Have you ever had a relationship with comic books?
TORRES: Do the Archies count? (laughs) I was a big Archie fan. I
love Veronica – I want to look like Veronica. Betty was great, but
Veronica was the girl. And that whole “Sugar, Sugar” (singing) thing was
great. I’m telling my age – I’m really only 28. My sister is older
(laughs). I was listening to her 45s.
I don’t want to disappoint
any comic book fans out there, but I’m a girl so I really wasn’t reading
the super hero comic books much. But it’s done great things for my
marriage. The husband loved the idea of me playing Superwoman. And my
girlfriends said, “Well, that’s just kind of you every day, isn’t it?”
So I’m happy.
QUESTION: So there was no super hero role
playing games when you were a kid?
GINA TORRES: I
absolutely played Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I had the lasso, the
whole bracelet thing, I even had my twirl down. I just knew that I was
going to be taken back to Paradise Island, because that’s really where I
belonged. I was this small little Amazon just waiting to express
myself, waiting for my true mother to come and get me. (laughs)
Can you give me an idea of what Superwoman’s motivations are in this
GINA TORRES: Let’s see. Superwoman is motivated by
power and money and sex, and sex and money and power. Who can’t relate
QUESTION: Good answer. Not that Superwoman is a
role model, but do you feel like women have enough super hero
representation these days?
GINA TORRES: What do you mean
Superwoman is not a role model? Isn’t she a role model? She rules the
world (laughs). She’s Superwoman! (laughs). What I love about super
heroes, and Superwoman in particular, is that in that comics world
they’re all curvaceous. There aren’t really any skinny bitches in the
world of comic books. They’ve got muscle. I like that. I appreciate
that. They’re strong. And it’s important to have strong images of women
out there, women who aren’t afraid of expressing themselves, women who
aren’t afraid of taking chances, women who aren’t afraid of their own
power. Unfortunately, being a woman in society means that sometimes you
have to sort of quell what is instinctually broad and magnificent and
magical about you. I think a lot of people feel that way. I don’t know
if that’s necessarily relegated to being a woman, because we’re all so
worried about fitting in and not sticking out. So what’s great about
this whole genre is that it’s all about sticking out. It’s all about
being magnificent to the highest power.
QUESTION: You’re a
terribly nice person by everyone’s perception. What’s your trick for
turning on the villainy in a performance.
GINA TORRES: Oh,
there is no trick to capturing villainy. (laughs) The rumor is that I’m a
nice person. I love that rumor. Everybody has different sides to them.
Everybody has that inner villain that you want to break out and express.
It’s a good time going out there and letting her come out. Lock good
Gina in the closet … and have evil Gina come out and play.
You’ve been in this universe before, most notably as Vixen for Justice
League. Do you have an attraction to the medium or just when the
situation presents itself?
GINA TORRES: I love voiceover
work. It’s wonderful, it’s expressive. It’s a way of using a part of my
instrument that I’m comfortable and familiar with. The voice is such a
vital part of crafting a character. I’m so pleased that I have the kind
of voice that prints well and that people want to hear. I’ve had friends
actually say, “You know, I was in the kitchen, and the television was
on and I heard you.” I love hearing that there’s something familiar
about my sound, and that to some people it’s soothing.
The DC Universe animated original movies have been blessed with
numerous members of the Joss Whedon alumni association – from Adam
Baldwin and Nathan Fillion to David Boreanaz and James Marsters, to name
just a few. Is there something about the Joss experience that lends
itself to this universe?
GINA TORRES: Joss has an
attraction to a certain kind of actor. Obviously, we’re all so very
different in our own way. But when he’s choosing a world, he really does
inhabit it quite completely. I mean, it is an entire universe. It is a
Whedonverse, which is why I believe he’s so successful when he creates
these worlds that one can get lost in. All the inhabitants in it
require, without sounding self-serving, a kind of intellectual whimsy.
You have to understand where you are and be true to it and at the same
time let it go and let it fly and enjoy it for what it is – for the
maniacal, for the fantasy, for the tragedy of it. I think all of these
actors have lent themselves to these kinds of projects because we’ve
been in that place. And so we can come here and say, “Yeah let’s have
fun. I know where we are and let’s just go and have a good time.”
You’ve got significant sci-fi fantasy experience. Is that by choice or
GINA TORRES: I would say that I was dragged
into the sci-fi genre. (laughs) I wouldn’t say kicking and screaming. I
actually went willingly. But it wasn’t something that I sought out. I
grew up in New York, born and raised, and cut my teeth in the theatre. I
did a lot of off-Broadway, and some Broadway. Sci-fi was certainly not
where I thought I’d be making my bread and butter for this period of
time. It’s been a pleasant surprise, certainly. I find that it’s a niche
that I’m comfortable with. What else are you going to do with a strong,
almost six-foot girl? Give her a gun. Give her superpowers. (laughs)
And you give her a hefty belt with things attached to it. Yeah!
Can you quantify the passion of the fanboys out there?
TORRES: That passion of the fanboy is immeasurable. And it is
priceless. And it is necessary when you’re doing these things because
you don’t quite realize while you’re doing the work that you’re in a
bubble. And it’s not until you’re released into the world that you
realize that you’re making an impact and that you’re making somebody’s
day brighter and someone’s universe broader. It is great fun to be
confronted with these guys and gals.