Voice actress Tara Strong has played numerous DC Comics characters in animation over the course of her illustrious career, but it’s probably fair to say she’s probably best known for Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Raven. In the new Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse crossover animated film Strong has the opportunity to voice all three characters in the same project.
We had the fortune to chat with Tara Strong about the crossover. During our conversation, Strong not only discussed her triple roles but also praised the comic creators who work influenced DC animation such as George Pérez who recently passed away.
Taimur Dar: Obviously you’ve voiced Barbara Gordon/Batgirl numerous times. I know growing up you collected Batgirl comics so it’s a character near and dear to your heart. I see a lot of your own personality in this iteration of Babs like her enthusiasm and unabashed fandom. Does the DC Super Hero Girls version seem like a natural extension of yourself?
Tara Strong: For sure. She’s pretty silly and fun. I love in this movie when she asks Beast Boy to become all the different animals and she gets really excited about that. [Laughs]. It’s so cute! She’s so cute! Of course when I played her originally it was very dark and serious. So to get to explore her silly and younger side has been really fun.
Dar: Both Batgirl and Harley Quinn are characters you’ve both voiced numerous times. If I heard correctly, Lauren Faust wanted you from get-go for Batgirl but was hesitant about having you also voice Harley.
Strong: I think she was concerned because she really wanted Batgirl to be higher than my previous Batgirl. And she wanted it to be very high energy and a higher pitch. Initially, it’s not that she didn’t believe in me, she was worried that maybe a Harley sound if it was going to be high would sound too close. But then we went even higher with Harley and sillier! Thankfully she was like, “Yeah, that works!”
Dar: Did you record both parts in real time or separately?
Strong: I think it was probably both depending on how many lines per episode you have as each character. Sometimes you go through the whole show as one character and then you go through it as the other character. But if it’s just a few lines sometimes you flip-flop back and forth. I can’t remember what we did primarily on DC Super Hero Girls but I think we would go through as Harley and then Batgirl unless it was just a couple of line in between.
Dar: Both Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls have lighthearted humor but there’s a great scene in the film with Raven and Zatanna where they have this emotional heart-to-heart discussion about overcoming the darkness within themselves. It’s a scene that all of us can probably relate to especially after the last two years. Did that scene resonate with you?
Strong: Yeah because we all have dark things that we need to deal with in order to become our best selves. It doesn’t mean that that isn’t a part of us. When a cartoon makes something that people think about or that they’re the only one like that or that they struggle with [and] make it visual in front of your eyes and something that entertains and feels familiar, it’s a really beautiful moment. That’s what that moment is. It’ a really beautiful moment where we say, “I have darkness too and it’s OK. I’m just learning how to harness it.” I like that spiritually there was a shout-out from Raven saying, “Do you think you happened here by accident? That it would be me to help you overcome your fears so that you could win this fight?”
It’s also a cute moment because they’re both purple and cute. [Laughs]. It’s sweet and funny when she says her spiel and she turns into that Raven monster. First of all, I want that on a t-shirt! Secondly, when she comes back out of it and they don’t say anything and then laugh, it’s just a special little moment. It just shows you how thoughtful and clever this movie is.
Dar: How did the experience recording remotely differ from recording together with the rest of the cast?
Strong: We are very fortunate that we were able to work through COVID. The voiceover business didn’t miss a beat. We’re very grateful for that because we know that a lot of businesses have had a lot of hard times. We feel very lucky that we were able to do that. It’s very different from being in the room with everyone and feeling everyone’s energy and playing off each other. However, we do get to work together on Zoom. So we still get to hear each other and listen to each other because it matters if someone says a line like, “We got to go!” If they do something unexpected you want to be there to respond to it. Being able to connect on Zoom just like we are right now has been a life force for so many people.
— tara strong (@tarastrong) February 23, 2019
Dar: You may have heard that seminal comics creator George Pérez who was instrumental in revamping the Teen Titans in the ’80s passed away. I know you’ve met him at conventions and even had him on your Ship-It Show podcast. It’s really touching to see voice actors like yourself give proper credit and praise to these comic creators who aren’t really known by the general public. Dwayne McDuffie is another creator who passed away 10 years ago whose work had a tremendous impact on me but like Pérez I was too shy to ever talk to him an conventions or even online. I’d love to hear anything you’d have to say about Pérez, McDuffie, and comic creators who are no longer with us.
Strong: George was the nicest, sweetest, most authentic human. The first time I met him was at a con. He had a charity donations jar at his table and that’s all he was doing. He was raising money for charity. He was very sweet and smart and charming and so talented. When I found out he designed the Teen Titans, it’s like he created generations of joy. What a magician to visualize and bring to life these characters with the artistry of his hands. What a magical guy. When he came on The Ship-It Show he said, “You know Tara, I don’t normally do podcasts but for Raven I will.” He was a really sweet guy and I’m happy he knew near the end of his life that he meant a lot to people because he really did. He was a good kind soul.
It’s really sad that [Dwayne] McDuffie died. It was a really sad moment. He was very young. And he still had a lot to offer the animation world. [He and his wife Charlotte Fullerton] were just the loveliest couple and my heart breaks for her every time. She’s just done so much in his honor. It’s quite beautiful but really sad. And you’re right, creators and comic book artists and artists on the shows that we love often don’t get the love that they deserve. Thank God for the Internet! The Internet has opened that up quite a lot!
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.