Teen Titans Go! To the Movies: Will Arnett on his 'childish' take on Slade
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The egocentric heroes at the center of Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! will be faced with their ultimate nemesis, Slade (costar and producer Will Arnett), when they make the jump to the big screen this summer.
Spinning out of the irreverent animated series, TTG!TTM satirically follows Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) as they travel to Hollywood in search of movie stardom. According to Arnett, Slade will play an “integral part” in their quest for big-screen stardom.
Below, the LEGO Batman Movie star teases his latest return to the DC Comics universe, explains how he came produce the movie, and why non-fans of the show should definitely check the movie out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Slade the actual Big Bad of the movie?
WILL ARNETT: Yes, Slade is sort of a longtime nemesis of the Teen Titans. Slade hasn’t really figured prominently in the series Teen Titans Go! yet so we kind of thought this would be a good opportunity to kind of lean into that a little bit and investigate that relationship.
I know this movie is about the Teen Titans trying to get their own movie. How does he figure into that goal or not?
Well, Slade does figure into that in a really great way. I’m fully against spoilers, so you’ll have to see the movie to see that, but Slade is an integral part of the story with regards to the Teen Titans trying to get their movie.
Deathstroke has been played by many people. How did you attempt to put your own spin on the character?
For me, it was just about finding what I thought was kind of funny about Slade. We landed on this version of Slade who, in a lot of ways, ridicules the Teen Titans and takes them to task for how lame they are as far as superheroes. This Slade is much more childish. He kind of lowers himself to their level with regards to being a nemesis. He’s not as potentially scary as he’s been in the past.
You’ve also voiced Batman in the LEGO movies. Which one did you have more fun doing?
You can’t pick your favorite kids. I’ve had a lot of fun playing — and continuing to play — Batman as we move forward in the LEGO universe. [This was] fun because Batman is not a villain. It’s fun to play the villain. They’re very different, I’ll say that.
How did you end up becoming a producer on the movie?
Well, it actually started with me being a producer first and playing Slade second. I met the guys over at Teen Titans a couple years ago. I was such a fan of the show because of my kids, and I really wanted to meet the guys. So, I got in touch with them and just kind of cold called Sam Register over at Warner Bros. Animation and said I’d really like to meet the guys. He immediately recognized I was trying to poach his writers, and he said, “You’re not going to do that, but we’re going to start to put together the Teen Titans Go movie. What do you think? Would you come and sort of jump in on the process and help us get this made?” I said, “For sure.” Then after that, we weren’t really sure. We didn’t have a script or anything at that point. We thought, “Well, if I was going to have a voice role, what would it be?” Then Slade kind of appeared and they had this great idea of how that would be and how the character would work and figure into the movie. So I said, “Yes, I’ll do whatever you guys want.”
How did you guys come up with the concept for the movie to be about trying to get a Teen Titans movie?
I think that [executive producers and writers Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic] just had a really great concept of “look, we live in a world where you can’t avoid the fact that there are a lot of superhero movies out there.” I think the idea that “Oh my gosh, another superhero movie — where would that fit in?” just really made them laugh. When they came up with the concept and pitched it, it really resonated and is so in line with the sensibility of the show and these characters that it just seemed like such a winning concept.
For people who may not be familiar with the TV show, can you describe for me what the tone of the movie will be?
We have these superheroes, some of them are relevant and some of them are not relevant to the audience. Of course, the leader is Robin and then Cyborg, but you also have Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven. These are characters that non-fans of the show won’t know, but they are a little bit, at least Robin and Cyborg, are supposed to be teenaged representatives of the characters we know. They’re versions that don’t take themselves too seriously, or when they do take themselves too seriously, it’s not at the right moment. In a lot of ways, it’s really a comedy show wrapped up in a superhero veneer. There’s just a lot of really great irreverent, original comedy and a lot of really great and irreverent original music as well, which is a really big part of the show and figures pretty heavily in the movie as well.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies opens in theaters July 27.