Actor David Giuntoli is no stranger to playing dark detectives having portrayed the character Nick Burkhardt in the TV series Grimm. So casting him to voice Batman, the ultimate dark detective, in the animated movie Batman: Soul of the Dragon seemed like a no-brainer. It’s no surprise then that Giuntoli was brought back to once again voice the Caped Crusader in the new Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham animated film, an adaptation of the Elseworlds comic miniseries.
We had the chance to chat with David Giuntoli about various topics including his approach to voice acting, the existential themes of the film and much more.
Taimur: Playing Batman in Soul of the Dragon wasn’t just your first time playing the character but your first major animation voiceover role. As an actor you never know how you’ll will be received. Being asked to come back must be a huge ego boost. How did it feel like to have another opportunity to play the Caped Crusader?
David Giuntoli: It’s fun to get a second crack at something. I have very little experience voice acting. Getting to watch the first film benefited me a lot in my second time voicing Batman because I saw you could go a lot further with these characters in voice acting than you could on the screen. It gave me permission to go bigger and bolder with my choices the second go-around.
Dar: In this Elseworlds film, Batman is basically an occult detective. You, of course, are no stranger to that type of role with your character Nick Burkhardt in the TV series Grimm. Did you find this version of Batman come more natural or easier to you?
Giuntoli: I didn’t think it was more natural or easier. I think we found him an interesting moment in his life. We meet Bruce after he was traveled the world for 10-20 years acquiring all of his skills to assume the guise of Batman for the first time. I don’t know if it was easier but it was certainly a really fun experience to get to play Bruce Wayne and Batman in this moment of time.
Dar: Depending on the comic book TV or film project actors will sometimes, not always, go to the comics as reference. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is a direct adaptation of a comic book miniseries. Did you read or consult the graphic novel in any form or just rely on the script?
Giuntoli: I one hundred percent relied on the script. I don’t really know the comics at all. I’ve never read any of them to be honest. As you said it’s a direct adaptation so it’s all right there. It seems almost redundant to go to the comic book after you have this hundred-page script in front of you. It did the work. It took me into the world. On a broader note on voice acting, when you’re onscreen you’re working off of a world that you are seeing. There is a set built and actors in the room with you. You all create this collective world and everybody informs each other’s choices. In voicing these movies it’s you in the sound booth in your own imagination. You’re guided hopefully by the level of directors I was able to work with, Sam Liu and Wes Gleason. It’s a trust fall on that level.
Dar: Most people know that Marlon Brando infamously never memorized his lines and had them fed to him. For the longest time I thought he was just being diva but only recently learned it was because he wanted to be in the moment. Not having to memorize lines is one of the advantages of voiceover work. Do you indeed find it easier to be in the moment with animation voiceover?
Giuntoli: I don’t prepare as much for voiceover work because you literally have a script right in front of you. I have experienced becoming too acquainted with the lines. It is scary because I am generally an over-preparer. Also, who knows with Brando? Maybe he was being a diva! [Laughs].
Dar: Obviously Doom That Came to Gotham is a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft. Have you read any Lovecraft or have any familiarity with his work?
Giuntoli: Zero. It’s just not my world. Weirdly, I work a lot in it. But I wasn’t steeped in it growing up. I grew up Catholic. I can’t remember if I was allowed to have comic books or not. Something fun though. My daughter is four. She knows her mommy [Bitsie Tulloch] plays Lois Lane on Superman & Lois. She knows that her daddy plays Batman in these movies. Sometimes when we’re in L.A. we’ll walk down to this old used bookstore in our neighborhood. The first thing she wants to do is go to these old comic books. She pores over them and we’ll end up buying one. I go through them and rip out the pages with the violence. My daughter is finding the love of comic books and makes this job so much more fun as a family.
Dar: Anyone who’s read Lovecraft knows that he doesn’t do happy endings. The ending of Doom That Came to Gotham isn’t completely bleak but I wouldn’t call it completely happy. I won’t give spoilers but while it does end on a dark note there is some optimism. How did you view the ending?
Giuntoli: I was recording this back in 2021/2022. I was thinking to myself that Batman and this Lovecraftian world was narratively ahead of its time. For mainstream storytelling, I think that the heroes are dark and the storylines are not so black and white. I think you’re right that the endings are a little pessimistic and I was impressed with that level of storytelling. The ending was not a “happy” clean ending. It’s grey and murky. It’s true to modern storytelling. I was very impressed.
Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is available now Digitally and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray.