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Interviewing The Teen Titans: Voice Actors Talk Favourite Episodes, Raven’s Popularity and South Africa

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Warner Bros. is releasing a special episode on 11 May that follows the Teen Titans taking over the company’s anniversary party. Ahead of its release, we had the great opportunity to chat with the voice actors who play the Teen Titans: Tara Strong (Raven), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Greg Cipes (Beast Boy) and Scott Menville (Robin) about their favourite episodes from Teen Titans Go!, what makes Raven so unique, South Africa and more.

The cast joined me on a Zoom call to talk about their careers and the journey they’ve all come on since the very beginning of the acclaimed Teen Titans over 20 years ago. More than just a cast of hired voice actors, they were comparable to a tight-knit family who bonded through their work on the series. “We’ve grown up together, we’ve lived big lives together, we’ve had marriages, divorces, kids, ups and downs,” said Raven’s voice actress Tara Strong. “We’re not just a family on television, we’re a chosen family in real life and we were there for each other.”

Playing The Teen Titans and Growing The Characters

“Being able to portray these characters that bring such joy to people over the last few decades is something we don’t take lightly,” Strong continued. “We’re so grateful and we love meeting fans at cons, we love our fans around the world. It’s very exciting for us to be talking to South Africa! The fact that people love us there is pretty wonderful.”

Teen Titans Interview Voice Cast South Africa Favourite Episodes

When I asked them about the process of getting into character (like method acting) and staying in character even when they’re not recording, Greg Cipes, who voices Beast Boy, jokingly replied, “I never leave my character, bro [laughs].”

“I think that the characters are more into being so much a part of who we are,” said Cyborg’s voice actor, Khary Payton. “Jumping in and out of character is pretty easy at this point. I think we know the characters so well and over the years, the characters have kind of taken on bits and pieces of our own personality. You know, Beast Boy didn’t call anybody ‘mama’ when we started, then he would call Tara ‘mama’ all the time and next thing you know, Beast Boy is calling Raven ‘mama’ and everybody else.”

Teen Titans Interview Voice Cast South Africa Favourite Episodes

Payton talked about Teen Titans Go! allowing the voice actors to improvise and ad-lib a lot more. “Especially with Teen Titans Go!, we’re able to ad-lib so much that a lot of our own voices end up, like literally, like our own cadences, the way we might inflect and the way that we might tell a joke ends up coming out in our characters. I think over the last few years, there’s always been a piece of ourselves, especially comically, that’s come out through Teen Titans Go!.”

Scott Mensville, who voices Robin in the series, added, “We know these characters so well at this point, that we don’t even rehearse before we record. We do our homework, our prep work at home when we get the scripts and then we just come in and start going with the episode!”

On Raven’s Popularity

Speaking specifically to Tara Strong, I asked her what makes Raven, arguably the most fan-favourited member on the team, so unique to the other characters that she’s voiced in the past (including Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls and Harley Quinn). She replied:

“The voice for Raven came to me very magically in this serendipitous moment where I was reading for her and Starfire, and I thought I was gonna get book Starfire ’cause the character description said ‘grown-up Bubbles’ and I am grown-up Bubbles. I was already playing Batgirl and some tragic teen characters so I wasn’t sure how to differentiate Raven. I did my audition just relying on my acting. I left the booth, then a godshot hit me and said ‘go try this!’ so I asked our director at the time if I could try one more thing, and she said ‘yes.'”

Putting on her Raven voice, Strong continued, “There was this weird little guttural roll that came out with everything so the biggest difference between Raven and my other characters is I have to maintain this space in my voice that can’t get too big. The biggest challenge with Raven is in fight scenes, to maintain this character because it has to sort of stay low.”

Teen Titans Interview Voice Cast South Africa Favourite Episodes

“Tara can do whatever the hell she wants with her voice!” Payton chipped in. “To keep it in this very specific place and still be so dynamic is awesome.”

Raven’s popularity on the show seemed to catch the attention of the rest of the cast, who were surprised to see how many cosplayers around the world opted to cosplay her at conventions. “Everywhere I go, there is someone dressed as Raven,” said Payton. “We might not see any other Titans but I will absolutely see 3 or 4 Ravens everywhere! She has tapped into the zeitgeist of the people.”

Tara Strong acknowledged that Raven’s popularity might’ve reached out to people who could relate to her the most. “I do think that Raven spoke to people who felt alone or different or ‘weird’, and gave someone an outlet to be okay with being by themselves, okay with meditating, okay with not fitting in and still maintaining who she is in all situations. I think a lot of people relate to that and we always meet people at cons who say ‘Oh my gosh, I never met someone like me until I saw Raven’.”

Teen Titans Interview Voice Cast South Africa Favourite Episodes

“It’s these five misfits who are five outcasts that found each other and formed this family,” said Menville. “I think everybody can relate to, if not all five characters, at least identify with one of them like, ‘yeah, that’s me.'”

Favourite Episodes

Teen Titans Go! has a very upbeat tone compared to other darker DC animated projects and its earlier original counterpart, Teen Titans, so I asked the cast which episodes they had the most fun recording. The answers were, expectedly, about Waffles or the phenomenal Teen Titans Go! 200th two-part episode where the real life cast was animated into the series.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, my personal favourite is the Teen Titans Go! 200th two-parter because they animated us voice actors as ourselves,” replied Menville. “And to me, it’s kind of a yearbook. It captures a moment in time of our crew, our animators, our producers, and it shows a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. There are a lot of inside jokes in that episode that we got to ad-lib or throw in or that the writers put in. That was kind of a bucket list, having them animate us and put us in there.”

Teen Titans Interview Voice Cast South Africa Favourite Episodes

Greg Cipes talked about the well-known Waffles episode. “I think my favourite episode is the simplicity of the Waffles episode. The only line we say the whole episode is Waffles! Waffles Waffles!

“That was us early on realising what we were dealing with,” said Payton. “With Teen Titans Go!, if it’s silly and goofy and makes you laugh, they just don’t care. They’re like ‘Make it funny no matter what!’ and you never know what they’re gonna throw at you. They were like, ‘You know what, Khary and Greg? Sing Waffles.’ [laughs] They just throw stuff at you and fortunately, I’m working with four of the most brilliant creative people that just have in themselves to come up with amazing stuff on the fly.”

“It’s not the kids that sing Waffles, it’s the adults that sing it and scream at us from across the street!” Payton added. “It’s so cool, generationally, we had the kids and their parents. It’s crazy that we’ve been on so long that we’re talking about several different generations of people now.”

What About South Africa?

Leaving the interview, Payton left me with a message: “And tell South Africa that the Teen Titans love them, and I think it’s so cool that we got such a great following in South Africa! That just warms my heart.”

“I think we should all go for South Africa Comic Con,” added Tara Strong. She asked me if South Africans would like if they’d come down for Comic Con, to which I enthusiastically replied: “They would love it!”

Teen Titans Go! is available for streaming on Netflix. Keep an eye out for the Warner Bros. 100th episode special airing on 11 May 2024.

Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Hub, writer at GLITCHED. Former writer at The Gaming Report and All Otaku Online. RPG addict that has wonderful nightmares of Bloodborne 2.

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