Whether it’s Wynnde in the Young Justice animated series or Spider-Man in various projects, Robbie Daymond has voiced his fair share of superheroes. With the Legion of Super-Heroes animated movie, Daymond adds yet another superhero character to his resume as Timber Wolf, the surly instructor for prospective members of the eponymous team.
The Beat had the chance to speak with Robbie Daymond not only about his performance as Timber Wolf but also his career and various other topics. Check it out!
Taimur Dar: As I was watching the film, it struck me that your Timber Wolf performance has a certain Wolverine vibe. I would love to know if that fan-favorite member of the X-Men was indeed an influence.
Robbie Daymond: The best part of these interviews is that I get to learn stuff too. If my last interview was to be trusted, it turns out that Timber Wolf was first in the DC Universe and then was used as inspiration for the Wolverine character. Obviously, DC and Marvel borrow from each other from time to time. I think that those similarities that you are seeing are not completely unfounded. It’s just the other way around because Wolverine became such a massive core character in the Marvel Universe and I think Timber Wolf isn’t used nearly as much.
Dar: That leads perfectly into my next question. The average person probably isn’t familiar with Timber Wolf, in contrast to other characters you’ve played like Spider-Man. With a character like Spidey, you’re living in the shadow of decades of other actors. Do you find yourself less constrained voicing under the radar characters like Timber Wolf?
Daymond: I’ve been lucky in my career getting to play a lot of characters that people might “know.” I don’t ever feel scared that I’m going to do something that someone isn’t going to like or be compared. That’s their performance and this is mine. I always trust the creative team to know what they’re going for and hopefully my version of an existing character stands alone. With Spider-Man and Timber Wolf I got to try a few new things.
Dar: Did you look into the comics or do any research for the character or rely primarily on the script?
Daymond: That’s always the question— how much do you research? For this, thankfully I’m a certified nerd myself so I had a little bit of knowledge. But I was able to look back at the character and see what the vibe was and if he was voiced by anybody else. But you don’t want to over research because then you might end up pigeonholing yourself into an interpretation of the character that doesn’t match the adaptation that you’re working on. Know what you’re going in for but keep yourself pliable enough to take direction from people who are a lot more knowledgeable than you like the directors.
Dar: Speaking of directors, you and voice director Wes Gleason go way back, so how would you describe your working relationship with him on this project?
Daymond: I’m guessing that my involvement in this was in no small part due to Wes. [Laughs]. He’s a great guy and an incredibly skilled voice director. He is really good at making me feel comfortable in the studio and opening you up to new and interesting reads. He’s a great scene partner. Sometimes he’ll read the scene with you if you don’t have the other actors. I can’t speak highly enough of Wes. He deserves all the accolades he’s had over the years. Every time I go into a session and see him on the other side of the glass or Zoom, I know it’s going to be a good time and I’m going to be proud of my performance.
Dar: You taught at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre and in this Legion animated film, Timber Wolf serves as a teacher for the students at Legion Academy. Was that something from your life you were able to incorporate into the role?
Daymond: That’s an interesting question. I taught all through graduate school. When I moved to Los Angeles I taught for a couple of years at the New York Film Academy. So I do know what it’s like to have a classroom full of students, especially young people who can be surly, impulsive and annoying sometimes. [Laughs]. The big difference for me is when I was teaching I was young! I went into graduate school when I was 22 and continued teaching until I was about 28. I guess the difference between Timber Wolf and myself would be it’s a little bit easier to command respect when you’ve got some years. But as a 22-year-old it can be tough to wrangle in a class of 18–22-year-olds. I even taught a few non major courses [and] had people who were my parents’ age. There’s something to commanding respect and I think the only way to be able to do that is through knowledge and expertise. That’s why people know when someone is faking. People don’t like incompetent people in power positions. But for the most part I think Timber Wolf knows what he’s doing.
Dar: Awhile back you got to voice a Lakota character in the Casagrandes cartoon. Indigenous representation definitely seems to be at the forefront in media, especially in the last year with projects like Reservation Dogs and the Prey film. I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective.
Daymond: It’s always a positive thing. We’re all looking for representation in media. If you’re asking about my personal opinion and experiences, I feel like my relationship with it has shifted over the years. I am of mixed ancestry but I also don’t present as Caucasian/White so sometimes it’s hard for me to find my place. I can’t go out for certain types of roles but I am Indigenous. As it’s shifted over the years, I recorded that Casagrandes episode maybe four years ago, I don’t think I would take on a role that would specifically speak of tribal representation if I wasn’t from that tribe. That’s something that’s shifted for me and my evolution on what it means to be an actor and a person of color. I think we have to get it as close as possible and give those people the opportunity. If you’re talking about a modern Native American living out in the world where their tribal ancestry is not a core part of their character, then I absolutely am comfortable playing those characters. But I would love to give the chance to a card-carrying member of a certain tribe to have that opportunity first.
Dar: Besides the action roles you’re known for, you’ve done a lot of work in kids and preschool shows lately like Pretzel and the Puppies and Nickelodeon’s Baby Shark. As a father of two kids, I’m curious if you’ve consciously been choosing projects that your own kids can enjoy?
Daymond: I have a two- and four-year-old and I want them to be able to watch that obviously. Some other pre-school shows that I’m in that they’re watching are Chico Bon Bon, Spirit Rangers and Do, Re & Mi. Honestly, I do personally think that’s just a shifting in the media itself. They’re changing the demographics. It’s no longer 7-11, it’s 6-10. The younger viewers are getting onto more live-action media earlier. So it makes sense that there would be a shift to focusing on preschool shows for working voice actors. Those shows are just the bookings that are presenting themselves. I think that’s a larger sign as part of the shifting of animation in general excluding the things we are talking about now.
Legion of Super-Heroes is available now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital