JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II Interview: Armen Taylor On His Personal Connection To Jay Garrick And The JSA

JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II Interview: Armen Taylor On His Personal Connection To Jay Garrick And The JSA

Justice Society: World War II star Armen Taylor talks to us about his very personal connection to the role of Jay Garrick, being a mentor to Barry Allen, his future hopes for the original Flash, and more!

Justice Society: World War II arrives on streaming platforms on April 27th, 2021, and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray on May 11th, 2021. This next entry in the DC Animated Universe sees The Flash thrust into the midst of an epic battle between Golden Age DC Super Heroes the Justice Society and Nazis for an adventure that definitely doesn't play out the way you might be expecting. 

Picking up with Barry Allen in the present day, prior to the formation of the Justice League, the Scarlet Speedster discovers he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. Arriving in WWII, he finds himself joining forces with a Golden Age team made up of Wonder Woman, Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor, and Jay Garrick.

Talking of Jay, we were fortunate enough to catch up with actor Armen Taylor (One Punch Man) to discuss his role as the original Flash. Opening up on why the character, and Justice Society, mean a lot to him, Taylor also shares his hopes for the future and explains the work that went into bringing this speedster to life. He even opens up on his roles in Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Armen does a phenomenal job playing Jay in Justice Society: World War II, and it's clear from hearing him talk that this opportunity meant an awful lot to him in a prolific career which has included projects like World of WarcraftGhost in the Shell SAC_2045, and Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon.
 

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You’ve worked on a lot of big franchises over the course of your career, but what did it mean to you joining the DC Animated Universe as Jay Garrick?

It was very special. I grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, and I loved DC Comics growing up like Justice League. I’d read a couple of the old Justice Society of America books, and my wife’s late grandfather was a big fan. He grew up as a kid in that time when comic books were just coming out. He was a big fan of Jay Garrick, so I got to talk to him about the character before he passed and learned what the character meant to him as someone who grew up in World War II. It was really, really special getting to play this character. 

When you’re playing a character who has been around since 1940, do you feel that leads to some added pressure?

Yeah, it definitely feels like a responsibility, but in a great way. Any time you’re playing a character, there’s a responsibility to, if no one else, the creator and writer and producers and directors, to bring their vision together. That’s especially the case if it’s part of a well-known franchise and a character who has been alive as long as your grandparents have been. It brings a different level of respect and responsibility to the performance. 

In terms of your performance, what did you look to bring to Jay’s voice, and did his powers as a speedster factor into that at all?

It’s interesting. The writing was so great on this, and the way they wrote him lent itself to the speed with which he talks. Personally, I can and do talk pretty fast, so we got in the booth and the first sessions we played around with a couple lines to see where he lived and they went, ‘Yeah, kind of like how you normally sound with a little more energy. Go with the writing and go with your gut.’ It went from there. 

What about the mentor/mentee relationship between Jay and Barry did you find most interesting to explore?

It was so cool. I didn’t know it was Matt Bomer during the first session, but found that out when we came back and I did pickups and said, ‘Oh, cool, I’m actually watching him on Doom Patrol, so it’s cool that I get to be his mentor.’ It was a fun mental game to play given the star that he is. I enjoyed diving into, as Wes Gleason, our voice director, described it, their sheer geekdom over the Speed Force and how exciting it is to get to talk to someone else who has an idea of what life is like for you not as a superhero, but as your equal. It’s having someone else to say, ‘When we do this together, this is amazing!’ That unique excitement was cool to explore. 

Having got to know Jay, what is your take on what he brings to the Justice Society? 

I think he brings a degree of humour. Steve Trevor is the one mortal among them who can’t dodge a bullet or one won’t bounce off him. The other characters, like Hawkman, has a millennia on his shoulders and soul. Black Canary has seen some dark things and Hourman is struggling with, not an addiction, but only being able to use his powers for an hour at a time knowing he wants to do more and take on more. For Jay Garrick, this is who he is and who he’ll always be. He gets to add a little levity here and there because he’s not carrying that weight on his shoulders. 
 

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In terms of those characters who make up the team, which of them have you most enjoyed seeing Jay interact with now you’ve watched the finished film? 

[Laughs] I loved him and Wonder Woman. Matt Mercer is Hourman, and the description that was given to me for a couple of the scenes was, ‘Okay, to understand the backstory of this team, this is 1945, they’ve been at this for four or five years, fighting a lot, doing a lot of special missions,' and the general assignment for Jay and Hourman is, 'You go over there and cause a distraction and draw their fire, and we’ll go in and kick down the front door.’ There’s this back and forth with them saying, ‘Here we go again. Always getting shot at. This is our lot in life!’ That was really fun to play with. 

In terms of research for the role, did the comic books help you or did you turn to the work other actors have done as the original Flash on screen? 

For me, it really was getting to talk to my wife’s late grandfather. I got the call to play Jay, and less than five days later, I was in the booth recording him so I didn’t have a tonne of time. I got to talk to her grandfather who had grown up in that era and loved the Jay Garrick character and loved the comic books. He gave me his impression, but otherwise, I didn’t watch anything else. I remembered my own reading of some Justice Society comic books when I was an early teenager and drew on that and what I could learn from him from that period of time. 

It feels like this movie only really scratches the surface with Jay; if the opportunity presents itself to reprise this role, where would you like to see him go next? 

I’d love to explore, and if the opportunity presented itself, that would be amazing, how he got there. One of the things I loved about him is that the helmet he wears is his father’s from World War I because he was a soldier. He incorporates that into his uniform, so I’d love to see how he got to where he is, and then going forward, what he does now he knows more about this universe and his own potential thanks to Barry. Also, pitting the Justice Society against the Nazis is sort of what they were created for, but it would be great to see these characters, once this war ends, to see them enter the Cold War or potentially fighting more Metahumans. How do they deal with a world where no one requires you to be on the frontlines and there’s a war in secret? How do they go back to normal and try to create normalcy? 

We’ve seen Matt Bomer, for example, play both Superman and Flash, but do you have any other dream roles in the DC Universe after voicing Jay here?

Do I have any? No. Would I like to? Yes. I think every voice actor would love to get the chance to play Batman or Superman, or certainly, I think every voice actor at some point tries to do their best Mark Hamill Joker. I love the villains in the DC Universe, so getting the chance to do one of those would be really cool. 

On another note, I know you did some voiceover work for the recent Spider-Man games; what did it mean to you to be part of another iconic franchise like that?

That is a great franchise to be part of. Like this, you know the number of fans out there and how much it means to them. There’s always that little extra pep in your step when you go into a session like that because you’re carrying a piece of a very big experience. A very small piece, but a very big experience for millions of people. It’s a different level of A-Game, I guess. 

Also Read: JSA: WWII Director Jeff Wamester Explains His Fresh Take On The Golden Age Team
Also Read: Matt Bomer On Playing The Flash, How It Compares To Superman, & More
Also Read: Elysia Rotaru On Her Badass Black Canary And Why She Loves She-Hulk
Also Read: Liam McIntyre On Getting To Play A Badass, Very Different Aquaman
 

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