From Teen Titans Go! to Young Justice And beyond that, Khary Payton is definitely not a newcomer to voicing superheroes in television, film, and video games. Payton’s current voice role has him playing superhero Black Samson on Amazon Prime Video. Invincible, a veteran fighter struggling to stay in the game and mentor a new generation after losing his powers. The role is the second adaptation of a Robert Kirkman property in which Payton has participated, as he also played King Ezekiel in The Walking Dead.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Payton discusses the appeal of InvincibleThe postmodern, self-aware view of superheroes, what he appreciates about Black Samson, and how the Amazon Prime series sets itself apart from other superhero stories.
You’ve voiced quite a few superheroes before, but how does he take on the grizzled and embittered Black Samson in Invincible?
Khary Payton: I feel like I’ve been lucky enough to play animations that have had a very different tone, and I think if you add video games to that mix, the levels of gruesome are many and varied. Although kids know me these days for being Cyborg, being as dumb as he wants to be Teen Titans Go!, there have been many levels. I think we take it to another level with Invincible. That is the beauty of this work: there are many things that can vary, from show to show and series to series. I always say that I love the wonderful variety and I just enjoy it.
I’m glad you’re one of The Walking Dead guys to survive Invincibleseries premiere!
Payton: Yes, it was pretty bad! But as for Living Dead The actors are concerned, they understand that when it comes to a Kirkman show, you can never be quite sure when time is up. They, at least, were like “Well we can feel that, we get it. It was a pretty good show, nothing is promised; the next episode is never promised.” [Laughs]
This is the second Kirkman comic you’ve helped bring television to life. What is that secret sauce, especially with InvincibleWhat makes them stand out from the rest?
Payton: I think it’s vulnerability. What really draws me to the story of Invincible And it lends itself to the hideous and ghastly aspect of this is that if you really think about being a superhero, it’s not all about capes blowing in the wind, hands on hips, and cool poses. These things, if you take them seriously, take their toll. I think of athletes at the top of their game, the amount of torque and stress they put on their bodies, many times when they finish playing, these are people who have trouble walking, they are having trouble doing so many things due to stress. they exert on your joints and ligaments.
And that stress is real, and [we’re] taking it to another level when we talk about a world of superheroes. We may not be talking about ligaments, but we are talking about emotional stressors and that sort of thing. That’s what i love about Invincible: We see a child who is extraordinary but who also realizes that, with that extraordinary power, extraordinary pressure arises.
Was there a moment in the script or a bit of direction where you knew exactly how you were going to approach Black Samson?
Payton: No, I think when I got into the booth, I was a quick study. We talked about it in the booth and laughed a little at the idea of his name being “Black Samson”, because it’s from an old school time where there was probably another Samson, but he said, “Yeah, but I I am Black Samson. “All types of black comics had to have ‘Black’ in their name, otherwise people would say, ‘Who are you? “So he says,” Yeah, we did it in the past and it stuck with me. “Just the idea that it’s from the older generation and that it’s a little rough around the edges. Less about the style and more about the substance.
As you said, he really is that athlete.
Payton: Yes, it really has! It hurts to climb the stairs now from all the whips and scorn of time, man.
What do you think keeps Black Samson in the game? When we first see him, he has to wear that armor, which inadvertently saves his life, just to answer the call and train these young kidnappers.
Payton: I think that’s all he has ever known and it’s hard to put some things aside. Some people never retire: actors never retire, doctors never retire. I have to say “doctors”, because my dad is a doctor, and that guy is going to go to the hospital until he dies, because doctors don’t have free time, or at least doctors like my dad. He’s always making rounds, checking on patients, getting up early and taking care of people and he doesn’t know how to turn that off.
It’s like boxing: how many great boxers hung in their prime? None of them! Everyone fights too much because they don’t know anything else and they themselves were invincible at some point. And it’s hard to imagine that it might not be anymore. I think Black Samson is probably a bit different because he wasn’t actually saved by his suit! She took off her suit and got her butt handed over to her and it turns out that’s the key to getting back to being who she’s going to become again … but usually that doesn’t happen.
Of all the characters and superheroes you’ve voiced, what are you particularly proud of in your portrayal of Black Samson?
Payton: It’s great to see superheroes being vulnerable. Most of the comics we’ve seen, superheroes don’t bleed and Samson, like Invincible, definitely bleeds and these fights take a toll. And I think that’s ultimately what makes Black Samson and Invincible more human and more understandable to the audience and what makes it all fit together.
Invincible stars Steven Yeun, JK Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Mae Whitman, Chris Diamantopoulos, Melise, Kevin Michael Richardson, Khary Payton, Gray Griffin and Max Burkholder. The series is produced by Skybound and is executive produced by Robert Kirkman, Simon Racioppa, David Alpert and Catherine Winder. New episodes launch on Fridays on Amazon Prime.
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