“The Flash,” one of the big hits from the fall season, is hiding a secret. If there is ever a musical showdown with other TV programs, they have an all-star team.
The heavyweight musical member of the group is Jesse L. Martin. You might not be aware of his singing credentials since Martin has been playing TV detectives — first on “Law & Order” and now on “The Flash.” But he showed a little of that skill with his guest-starring role on “Smash.”
His breakthrough came in Jonathan Larson’s Broadway musical “Rent” in 2005. He reprised the role in the feature film version of the musical.
As for his current cast, Martin says: “We want to star a flash band. Everyone can play an instrument and sing.”
Series star Grant Gustin has an extensive musical theater background.
But so far there have been no plans announced for an all-singing episode of “The Flash.” That’s OK with Martin, who who wants to focus on the detective part of his current job.
He played a detective on “Law & Order” but the CW series is different. All he had to worry about in the NBC drama was the usual batch of murderers, rapist, thieves and thugs. “The Flash” deals with criminals who can clone themselves, manipulate the weather and create deadly mists.
“ ‘Law & Order’ was so very interesting to me because what I got to do was explore New York along with getting to work with some of the best actors New York City had to offer,” Martin says. “I did that for 10 years so as far as I am concerned that’s done. Now, here I am in a whole new world and I get to do things I’ve never done before.”
One of those things is to act in front of a green screen. This is a way that special effects — such as The Flash being able to run 600 mph— can be created.
It’s a long way from the nightly shows on Broadway. Martin didn’t think of himself back then as only a stage performer. The one thing that was on his mind was just landing a job that would earn him is Actors’ Equity card.
“Once I got that, I thought I had totally made it,” Martin says. “Now, I have more than I ever imagined.”
He can imagine another return to Broadway. But that will have to be worked in with “The Flash,” which is off and running at top speed.
Adsit sounds off
Generally, it’s easy to recognize the celebrity hired to provide a voice for an animated movie. Was there any question as soon as you heard Buzz Lightyear that Tim Allen was the guy talking for the space toy?
That’s why producers spend the extra money to get a known actor rather than turning to the people who do voice work for a living. They bank on those who are fans of the famous actors to show up to hear their work.
No matter how good your ear is when it comes to picking out actors doing voices, there’s no way you could have guessed who does the talking for Baymax in “Big Hero 6” unless you stayed to read the closing credits.
The man behind the movie’s hero — a soft-bodied robot — is Scott Adsit, best known for portraying Pete Hornberger on the NBC comedy “30 Rock.” He’s been a professional actor for almost 20 years but only recently got into voice work.
Actors are often given drawings or small models of what their character looks like to help them come up with a voice. But because voice recordings start years in advance, most are working on pure instinct. Adsit was surprised when he saw the final product.
“It’s so much grander than anything we saw in our heads when we were recording. That’s the thing — there’s so much going on that we just never even imagined,” Adsit tells me during an interview at the Disney Animation Studios. “I mean we knew what was happening in each scene. We knew what the relationships and all that, but all the bells and whistles and the tiny, bits of acting that the animators did for the characters, it enhanced what we did so much.”
Giving a voice to Baymax was different than a lot of animation work. Often, cameras are put in the recording studio to capture the facial expressions and gestures the actors make while delivering the lines.
Baymax doesn’t have big movements or facial expressions. Adsit jokes that he could stand in front of the microphone in the recording studio with his hands in his pockets.
Because the delivery of lines was all that mattered, Adsit put all his energy into getting just the right qualities in his vocal performance.
“I think before I went in, I was thinking he would be a bit harder and, more robotic. But then I saw that design and I said, ‘Oh, I got this.’ You know this is just a helpful, benign caregiver,” Adsit says. “What cemented the voice in my head was when I saw him in his soft form.”