Phil Morris is a self-described fanboy actor. The actor is known for portraying Martian Manhunter on Smallville, giving voice to Vandal Savage, Imperiex, and several other DC Comics characters in animated adventures, as well as being a regular in the Star Trek universe since 1966. Now, as he makes his debut on DC Universe’s Doom Patrol as S.T.A.R. Laboratories genius Silas Stone, Morris said it’s no coincidence he keeps showing up in genre shows.
“I feel like I’ve done this homework since I was 7 years old,” said Morris in a recent interview. “I have 20,000 comic books. I am a fanboy, a rank and file member of this universe.”
Silas is the father of Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade), who also makes his first appearance in the streaming platform series. Describing Silas as a “cold and calculating parent who feels they know better,” Morris teased that not all is as it seems between his character and the son he is pushing to become a better super hero for Detroit (and potential Justice League recruit).
“The great question is, is Silas good or bad? Is he doing this for Vic, or to hurt Vic?” asked Morris. “In his mind, he is a good man; he needs to save the last member of his family that is alive. He has lost his wife, and vowed to her in his mind to keep him safe.”
“The best part of this character dynamic is the relationship he has with Victor – or the relationship he doesn’t have with Victor!”
But what Silas has in mind for Victor also involves teasing better upgrades, and being severe with his son, which means forgoing the “emotional underpinnings” of a healthy father/son relationship.
“That doesn’t work for Vic,” Morris said, who added his character’s actions hurt his son deeply. And complicating matters is the supportive relationship Timothy Dalton’s Niles Caulder has with Vic.
Doom Patrol also hints at a shared history between Silas and Caulder, but the two men’s scientific pursuits led them down different paths. He views Caulder’s work with the Doom Patrol as less honorable, “dim” science, said Morris. And despite the fact Vic has connected with Caulder, Silas doesn’t see his colleague as a threat in the father department.
“Silas is incredibly egotistical; not much threatens him,” he said. “Silas took a more bright, shiny path, and Niles took a darker, more controversial path … he thinks he could have helped the Doom Patrol even more.”
Speaking of bright and shiny, Morris said he has enjoyed his time in the DC streaming universe because there are fewer constraints, and more ability to explore themes directly. The show hits hard, emotionally, and viscerally.
“Coming from Smallville, there was a certain amount of a bright, primary color sensation, or feeling … they had to tap dance on the surface because of the kind of audience they were trying to bring on, and the advertising aspect – you can only go so hard at it when you have so many people looking over your shoulder.
“But Doom Patrol is freaky, man,” Morris added. “It is far out, weird, and dysfunctional. We go at it straight, no chaser.”
As for how Silas fits amongst the island of misfit toys, Morris said viewer will discover how “good” the scientist actually is. He joked that Silas is ethical “in the way the CIA is ethical.”
At the end of the day, he thinks he is doing the right thing, and whatever methods he employs to do the right thing is OK, but morally, is it?” he posited. “He doesn’t ask that question; that makes him questionable.”
Meanwhile, Morris said as a fan himself, he is enjoying the ride of being a conduit between Doom Patrol, and the larger DC Universe that involves S.T.A.R. Labs.
“It always thrills me when I watch any of the shows, and they bring on a new character, whether it’s Black Canary, or Aquaman, or The Flash – I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s…Dude, they’re bringing on…Oh, man!”
So, for Phil Morris, all that homework reading comics is paying off, both as a viewer, and as the newest arrival on Doom Patrol.
Listen to the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast discussion of Doom Patrol: