Ricky Church chats with Dana Delany about Superman: The Animated Series…
Superman: The Animated Series recently passed two big milestones as it celebrated its 25th anniversary and was finally released on Blu-ray this week. Led by the minds behind Batman: The Animated Series, Superman is a near-definitive take on the Man of Steel and his vast mythology with its approach to telling serious stories and advancing character development. As the second series in the DC Animated Universe, it also laid a lot of groundwork for what would come later with guest roles for other superheroes along with what was the first team-up between Superman and Batman in modern animation.
We got the chance to speak with Dana Delany who voiced Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series and other DC projects. Funny enough, Lois was not her first entry into the DC universe as she played Andrea Beaumont in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Bruce Wayne’s first romance before he became Batman who has a mysterious and complex background of her own. We chatted with Delany about Lois’ popularity, why her relationship with Superman has been an enduring fixture on pop culture for so many decades, Andrea’s complexity and her new series for HBO Max The American Guest where she is starring as Edith Roosevelt. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: Superman: The Animated Series is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What sticks out to you the most regarding the show’s legacy?
Dana Delany: Gosh, a few things. I think the look of the show, definitely. I think that the look really lasts and sustains because it was such a combination of retro and modern at the same time. I feel like the look holds up. I think the music holds up. The Shirley Walker score is stunning. It’s like watching a feature film. I also feel like the politics hold up. When we started shooting it the Gulf War had just ended and we definitely were dealing with politics, we were dealing with weapons of mass destruction and certainly Lex Luthor could be compared to Donald Trump or anyone else like that today. I feel like all the politics hold up very well in a very fine way so I think it’s kind of a classic.
For sure. Now you played Lois Lane, of course, and most people probably don’t realize it or remember it a whole lot, but Lois Lane has been around for as long as Superman. She appeared in Action Comics #1 with Superman. Why do you think she’s been such an enduring character as well?
Well, what I like about Lois are two things. I like that she has always been a career woman. Always. That’s how the comics started. It was not unusual, actually, because women had to work during World War II, but I think she stood out because she cared about her career as much as she cared about having a man in her life. Also I think she stands out because she’s human! She’s the human among all these superheroes and she certainly manages to hold her own! I was watching a couple episodes last night and I was really noticing how she was not a damsel in distress. Lois really fought a good fight right up until the last second. The only time Superman swooped in to save her was when she was falling out a window and picked her up. She could hold her own in terms of fighting back.
Something I loved about your take on Lois is how you covered so many aspects of her character. You covered her wit, her no nonsense attitude, her bravery and also her vulnerability. I watched an episode where everybody thought Clark Kent died in an explosion during an investigation and Lois has this great scene talking to Superman where she’s like “I always teased Clark, but I always liked him.” How did you tap into Lois’ characteristics? Did you read much of the comics prior to the role?
I grew up on the comics. I’m a Lois fan probably since I was four years old. When I was a kid Lois Lane had her own comic and they were 10 cents so every Sunday after church I got to go to the drug store and find a Lois Lane comic. I also grew up watching the TV series in the 1950s so I watched both Lois Lanes, Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill, so she was huge and still is, but she was a part of my psyche from a very, very young age. I feel like I know Lois.
Cool! As well as playing Lois in Superman, your role continued into like Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman series and other material. Was there anything more you wish you could have done with Lois during your time? Like cover Superman and Lois’ marriage or anything like that?
Yes! I would like to play Lois for the rest of my life! I would be happy to! I really love that character and I understand that everybody wants to bring on their own Lois, they want the new girl, but if anybody asked me to be Lois, I would play her until the day I died because the great thing about animation is it doesn’t matter how old you are. Nobody knows, your voice doesn’t really change. I think Lois has never-ending stories for her, especially with what’s happening politically in the world. I would love to play Lois’ take on that.
Awesome. Now aside from playing Superman’s love interest, a few years before Superman you played Batman’s love interest as Andrea Beaumont who turned out to be more than a love interest, of course. What do you find interesting about Andrea? What was it about that role that has really struck you and going from her to Lois?
Well, when I did Andrea it was the first part I’d ever done in any animation so that was new for me. It really struck me that the creators, the same people who did Superman: The Animated Series, it was Paul Dini, and he’s why I got the job, he suggested me, and Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano, they wanted it very real. That was their direction. They didn’t want any comic book acting. They wanted it very real, very human, and that’s pretty much what I did. I approached it like I would do any movie. There was no difference and that character was very complex and very secretive, also tragic and beautiful. It’s not just a great, tragic love story. Lois was a whole other thing. Lois was snappy and fast and quick talking and she’s in charge and it’s kind of like yin and yang. That was fun to be able to play those different things.
Now in regards to Superman and Lois, the two of them are one of the most popular couples in all of fiction. As you probably know, there is a show literally called Superman & Lois on right now! What do you think it is about that pair that makes them so compelling and makes you want to root for them?
Oh, well, it’s funny, there’s so many answers to that and so many of them are probably inappropriate now that I think about it! (Laughs) I think it is that juxtaposition of him being a superhero and her a human being and yet she is his equal. Completely his equal and he needs her in a lot of ways. They need each other in different ways. I think they really compliment each other and God, I mean, every woman wants a superhero! But I’m sure that comes with problems also, you know, nobody’s perfect! I mean, she has to keep his secret too which is interesting to me. There was a lot of double entendre jokes. I was watching the series last night to catch up on it and especially when Superman and Batman meet and they’re these two hunky guys and they’re in costume and tights. There are so many double entendre jokes and the fact that she has to keep his secret, it’s very interesting to me.
Awesome. Outside of superheroes, right now you’re starring in the HBO Max series The American Guest playing Edith Roosevelt. You even wrote a piece about the Roosevelts and Edith recently. What was it about the Roosevelts that attracted you to this show and then to write such a piece about them?
Well, this show was shooting in Brazil and I love Brazil so I really wanted to do that. I wanted to work with my friends, Bruno Barreto who directs, Matthew Chapman who wrote it and also Aiden Quinn, who I’ve had a crush on my whole life! It’s a great love story that I think a lot of people don’t know really. I wanted to get that out there because most people know about Eleanor Roosevelt, but they don’t know about Edith Roosevelt and I feel like she deserves some attention.
Thank you very much to Dana Delany for speaking with us!
Superman: The Complete Animated Series is now available to own on Blu-ray and digital. Read our review here.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.