Much of the hype surrounding Titans, the first live action show on the superhero focused DC Universe streaming service, has surrounded Brenton Thwaites and his modern interpretation of Dick Grayson. Five episodes into its run, the series has been a slow motion origin sequence for the Titans team, but also very much a Batman show in spirit, telling not an origin story for Dick Grayson, but perhaps the first live action “second act origin story” in superhero history, as the former sidekick tries to come to terms with his past and figure out his future.
And while young Mr. Grayson already has plenty of issues with his former mentor, they come to something of a head in Titans episode 6, when he meets his replacement, a troubled young Robin named Jason Todd. The episode, with the fitting title of “Jason Todd” introduces the second Robin to Dick Grayson, and it spotlights the contrasting attitudes towards crime fighting that the two Robins have.
Playing Jason Todd is Curran Walters, who balances the youthful exuberance of a newly-minted Robin with the darker elements that drive the character. I spoke to Walters by phone earlier this week, and he told me all about getting into character with a Robin who may not be the best known, but who certainly has the most well known fate.
Den of Geek: Whenever I am talking to anybody about these superhero shows I’m always curious about how you got the part because there’s so much secrecy surrounding them. So what was the audition process like for Jason Todd?
Curran Walters: You go in. You do your lines, you take any notes that the casting director gives you. And you just wait for a call back or what not. Its really simple. I think they were going for a specific look and specific type of energy like they always do. And you know, thankfully this was a fun audition process. That was all that I could ask for and here we are.
Were you familiar with Jason Todd at all ahead of time?
When I got the audition I wasn’t familiar with Jason Todd. I was familiar Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, kind of the more popular names. But once I booked the role I dove head first into every comic I could get, every movie I could watch, every storyline, just to really get into character before I started filming. And I think that what make my presence on Titans so real it’s because I think I feel I am really Jason Todd. So I think the fans will love what they see.
Well, you definitely get to the underlying anger of the character and the resentment he feels and the stuff that drives him. How did you tap into that? Because you have a couple of really intense scenes in the episode.
Jason is this fun charismatic character who’s outgoing and he’s badass. But then he’s got a bad temper, reckless, he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Especially towards authority. My go-to in acting is drama so playing that dark side wasn’t all that hard for me. I think the back and forth between those elements was the hard part of the audition. It was us fun to screen things. It was not all that hard, I really felt as I was Jason.
There’s a great moment where you are talking to Dick Grayson about the improvements that have been made to the Robin suit and things like that. It’s like you are comparing notes and you are still kind of this enthusiastic character and this guy wants nothing more to do with it. But like what was it like for you. You get to put on this legendary suit for the first time. What was that process like and how does it feel? Is it as uncomfortable as it looks?
It is honestly not. It’s a lot of layers that go to it, with a lot of tights and stuff. I wasn’t sure I was actually Robin until I put on that chest plate and that cape, which was awesome. The suit in 100 degree weather would be miserable. But I loved it during the winter. The costume designers put so much work into it it.
What’s it like moving around in it?
They made it actor friendly. Everything was comfortable. It fit like a glove, it’s flexible.
Do you do any of those fights yourself?
Oh yes. The training. I did as much as I was able to do and comfortable with doing. A lot of the kicks and the punches, but not the back flips and the front flips. It was definitely cool to be able to interact with the stunts.
Did you have any fight training before you took the role?
I did a little bit of martial arts and boxing when I was younger with my dad. But that was about it.
You do good a job of explaining some of Jason’s backstory and obviously you did your homework for the role as well. Did they lay out anything for the character beyond just was on the page in that script?
Geoff Johns was helpful with any questions that I had, and so was Akiva Goldsman. I think they did this character justice.
The other thing about Jason, of course, is the character became most famous for dying and then returning. Did you feel any of that, the sense that this is kind of like a doomed character? That he is racing towards this inevitable destiny when you were playing him.
Of course. With Jason Todd, that’s who he is. He has this reckless sense of violence towards authority. But I think Jason’s whole character arc is brilliant. I just love the character.
Its not the kind of character that you usually see associated with superheroes. I’m old enough to remember when this character was first around in the comics and I think the people kind of reacted at the time to the fact that he doesn’t behave the way you would expect a Robin to behave. That gives you a lot of freedom. What was the most fun thing you feel you got to do in this episode?
100%. You remember when the characters was first around. This character hasn’t been portrayed in live action in 35 years. We’re giving the comic book fans what they want. We are giving them what they need. Each moment it was just putting on that costume, man. From being an actor to being an actor. Once you put that costume on you look in the mirror and you go “oh my gosh this is sick.”
They certainly leave the door open for you to return. Are you in future episodes of this season as well?
Anything is possible.