Garfield Logan a.k.a. Beast Boy may have originally debuted in the pages of the Doom Patrol comic, the self-proclaimed weirdest superheroes of the DC Universe, but he’s probably known best as a fan-favorite member of the Teen Titans. However, it wasn’t until the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon that he really found recognition in the mainstream outside of comics. Though numerous actors have portrayed Beast Boy in various media including animation and live-action, Greg Cipes has the honor of being the first actor to bring Beast Boy to life in media outside of comics in that aforementioned Teen Titans animated series.
After almost 20 years, the character is still synonymous with Cipes who continues to voice the character not only in the current Teen Titans Go! cartoon but the Young Justice animated series as well. While Go! is a much more humorous revamp of the original 2003 series, Young Justice explores the lives of the teenage and adolescent superheroes of the DC Universe while addressing real world issues and topics. In fact, the latest season has seen the normally lighthearted Beast Boy dealing with depression and PTSD.
Ahead of the release of the new Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse crossover animated film, we had the fortune to talk with Greg Cipes about his deep connection with Beast Boy and venturing into darker territory for the character.
Taimur Dar: Much of the magic of Teen Titans Go! can be attributed to the fact you record together. Obviously, due to the pandemic it’s all been remote like for this project. How have you adjusted working remotely for Teen Titans Go! when you’re no longer in the same room with that instantaneous back and forth.
Greg Cipes: We do record together over the phone. There’s technology that allows us to virtually be together. But with Young Justice, most of that series was done before I even had a proper soundproof room in my house. I was recording in my closet with blankets all around. I was dealing with being very sick from having COVID. I was one of the first people to get it really bad. I got to channel that into Beast Boy’s dark energy that he was dealing with in his own sickness. So it kind of worked well together. I paid the price but it was worth it. [Laughs]. But now we record together still virtually but in proper sound booths that are now in my living room in Venice Beach or anywhere. I’m in New York right now and there are studios where I can record.
Dar: Teen Titans Go! has reached a pretty major milestone becoming the longest running DC animated series. Those early episodes and first season are so vastly different. The plots are more straightforward compared to how crazy and meta the show eventually became. For you, was there a point when you felt that the show found its current voice?
Cipes: I feel like the voice is constantly changing because we’re so free-form and evolving with the synergy of the universe. We’re constantly staying fresh and shifting. One of the great things about this show is that DC and Warner Bros. allow us to be unhindered.
Dar: I remember in a past interview you mentioned how the different version of Beast Boy you’ve played each has his own animal energy. Could you elaborate?
Cipes: I definitely use the power of animal spirits and what each animal brings to the table gives me a perfect springboard to bring Beast Boy to life. I combine that with my own emotional bank which is vast and based on all the amazing experiences I’ve gone through in my life. I bring Beast Boy to life through that combination of energies. I’ve been playing him for 20 years. Being the first voice actor to bring him to life has given me a unique position to co-create a character with DC and Warner Bros. that’s never been brought to life before I made him who he is today.
Dar: I definitely feel like the comics have take inspiration from your take on Beast Boy. I’m fairly certain but I’d have to check, but I don’t believe that Beast Boy was a vegan before the Teen Titans cartoon. Now that’s become a part of his character. How do you feel about the influence you’ve had on Beast Boy in not just animation but comics?
Cipes: I love how my work has influenced every realm of Beast Boy because he’s me. The fact that he’s a vegan because of me and my love for animals is divine alignment. Whether you eat meat or not, we need to create a balance on Earth where animals are more respected and Beast Boy represents that for many generations now. This character lives on forever.
Dar: Over the course of Teen Titans Go!, Beast Boy has developed some unique catchphrases and lingo like, “That’s what’s up” and “Mama.” I’m curious if you came up with them and what inspired those phrases?
Cipes: I was very much inspired by characters like Bart Simpson and all his catchphrases. It was natural for me to want to come up with catchphrases that kids around the whole world would be using. Being Beast allowed me to channel these sayings like “That’s what’s up” and “Mama.” Even shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I got to come up with “Booyakasha” and came up with a catchphrase for that show too. I love coming up with catchphrases!
Cipes: Wingman is in every recording session, every business meeting, every flight, every comic con. We’re never apart. Naturally he’s the center of my universe. He makes it into everything that I do. And he inspires Beast Boy’s personality. On Young Justice I begged for them to give him an emotional support animal for his PTSD and all the trauma that he went through. The producers were like, “Yeah, let’s give him Wingman.” So it’s kind of a dream come true to have Beast Boy receive Wingman as his emotional support animal. He’s not a corgi but Wingman is a multidimensional being!
Dar: As you mentioned earlier, this latest season of Young Justice has taken Beast Boy to some dark places exploring PTSD. It’s a very sensitive but important topic. How was it for you as an actor tackling some really heavy issues with a character who is normally lighthearted?
Cipes: It’s paralleled what I’ve gone through my whole life. One way or another, what Beast Boy is going through in his world, I am going through it in mine. While I was recording these dark moments that Beast Boy went through in Young Justice, I was going through my own moments with tragedy and being sick. I channeled it into the character and into these scenes and it really just worked. People are responding in such a beautiful way to Beast Boy to being more vulnerable and this other side of Beast Boy that you’ve never seen before.
Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse is available now on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital and will be available to stream HBO Max on June 28.