Stay on target
A large portion of DC fans will tell you that the best Batman isn’t Adam West or Michael Keaton or Christian Bale. It’s Kevin Conroy, the voice of the caped crusader in the landmark Batman: The Animated Series and the entire DC Animated Universe that cartoon spawned. 15 years later, that universe expanded with Justice League and highlighted another performer’s definitive take on an iconic DC superhero: Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman. For both the 15th anniversary of Justice League the cartoon and the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman the character, we got the chance to talk with Eisenberg about what it’s like to play everyone’s favorite animated Amazon.
What was it like auditioning for the role?
It was exciting and scary. There was a lot of pressure because it’s a really big job and you know it’s going to be a game changer. I met with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano. They explained what they were looking for. Bruce showed me a picture of Diana, how she looked in the series. They really wanted me to have the qualities of her being a princess and her being a warrior. So that princess quality of someone who grew up in this very cherished place, Themyscira, and this warrior quality of being this Amazon of extraordinary strength and fierceness. So I tried to balance that.
Did you base your performance off of previous portrayals of the character?
No, I never got told something like “Remember how Linda Carter did it.” I never got the sense that was important to them. They were creating a standalone show, and they were very clear about their vision for it, which was lucky for me because I didn’t have a lot of baggage going in. I wasn’t a comic book fan growing up. It’s not like I had all these ideas about the character. I was able to receive their ideas.
Have you become more familiar with the mythology?
I still find it pretty confusing. I do love the Greek mythology. I loved it in college. I really responded to that. I love that version of her. It’s so mythic. I did get more familiar because I read some things and the fans helped me a lot. I met some writers and artists and tried to educate myself a bit.
via DC Comics
How do you think your performance has evolved over the years?
When I started, I was terrified. I had been in some shows before, I had done some animation, but I had never been a series regular. I was really quite green. But that worked for the character because she was so young and naive. It was her first time leaving Themyscira, leaving her mother, about to leave this island and go to this unknown place on this unknown journey.
As the show evolved, I evolved as an actor. I got more comfortable, and I got to know the people I was working with better. Andrea and I had more of a shorthand. It was never not exciting to pull into the WB parking lot. It never lost its magic. It still has it to me when I go even now. There’s still that giddiness that I feel like I felt in 2001. But the fear is less, so that’s a good thing. That paralyzing fear, that’s not there as much.
What do you think has made Wonder Woman such an enduring icon?
She’s rare. She’s one of the only female superheroes. She’s standalone character. She doesn’t depend on Superman or Batman to define her. She’s not somebody’s niece or aunt or love interest. She’s her own person. What she believes in and what she stands for are timeless. People are drawn to the simplicity of good triumphing over evil, especially in a complicated world where we see that doesn’t always happen.
I also think she appeared as a beacon for so many people because she provides that sense that it’s going to be okay. She’s got your back. I love that she speaks to people on the fringes or maybe aren’t represented. Her fanbase is massive. When you meet the fans, if they watched or read her while growing up, she helped them get through a difficult bullying phase or political time. She’s always that beacon of hope. She is still is now and is even bigger because more people are aware of her now.
Have you met Gal Gadot?
I adore her. I just met her in our respective agents’ lobby. I introduced myself to her. She could not have been more gracious. I was lucky enough to get a photo with her.
I think we should give her the space to be extraordinary because I think she will be. When it announced she was going to be Wonder Woman everyone had an opinion whether it was positive or negative. With Batman v. Superman, she came out looking the best in that movie. People were so excited to see her, and with the new clips now they’re anticipating the Wonder Woman movie in the best possible way. I’ve talked to Patty Jenkins a little bit, and she has such respect for the fans and such belief and understanding in this character. I have enormous faith in the project. There are too many phenomenal components to not believe.
Do you have any words of advice for Gadot or any other actress who may play the character one day?
They have their own journey to go on, just like I did and still do. Gal has got a great team. I don’t think there’s anything I could tell her that she doesn’t know or won’t experience going down the road. She’ll hopefully be playing Wonder Woman for a long time. I think the essence of Wonder Woman is her strength but also her compassion. I think anyone who voices her or plays her has to discover that because that’s what makes her extraordinary as a character.
Would you be open to any kind of Justice League revival?
The truth is, I’m an actor, and at the end of the day there’s that hope that I could keep playing the role forever and ever. The reality is you don’t know. When you get asked to do it, like with Injustice or another project, you’re just overjoyed and grateful it continues. There’s no character I want to play more, frankly.
But I can’t fathom bringing Justice League back. We had five seasons. That’s a long run. Young Justice had two, and it was very much left up in the air. There were unanswered questions. We went off the air knowing we were going off the air. When we had the big finale where I get to say “The Adventure Continues” with all of us flying off the staircase. That was a real ending. It had music and a crescendo. It was quite dramatic. Young Justice fans didn’t have any of that.
What would be phenomenal would be an animated Justice League movie, especially with the live-action film coming up. All of us would relish that so much. Last year I was able to get everyone together at New York Comic Con for a reunion. We read from scripts for Justice League, and we were all together for the first time since 2006. It felt magical. After that experience, all of us, including 3,000 fans at the panel, felt like, “Gosh, when can we do this again?”
They could have all of us back at any time. That’s an actor’s life. You’re waiting for a phone call. They have their own reasons for doing things. I don’t know what they are because I’m not in those rooms (where it happens). I know that all of us cherish our time on the show and that we’d all love to have a reunion tour of some kind, in a show or a movie. It’s heartening to know people do care about who’s voicing what and when those people aren’t chosen to be on the show or movie again.
Revisit Justice League by buying the series on Amazon (the website not the warrior women).