Phil LaMarr, the enthusiastic voice of lead character Virgil Hawkins and his super hero persona Static, has many fond memories of the important third season of the popular animated TV series, which saw integral changes and important guest appearances for Static Shock.
In Static Shock’s fateful third season, the character shifted to an impressive, tricked-out new costume, and his partner-in-crime-fighting Richie developed powers of his own as he became the super hero Gear. The African-American super hero took an enlightening trip to his Africa, shared an episode with Superman, and combined forces with the Justice League.
“In the third season, everything sort of got spruced up,” recalls LaMarr, known far and wide for his voice performances in Samurai Jack, Futurama and Family Guy, and his live-action roles for MADtv and Pulp Fiction. “The writing was just as good as ever, but they really raised the stakes. Static’s costume went from homemade to a legitimate super hero costume, Richie became his own super hero in Gear, and that meant there was less sitting back at headquarters – we started going on a lot more duo-action adventures.”
LaMarr and Jason Marsden, the voice of Richie/Gear, had already developed a strong camaraderie working closely together on the Disney animated series, The Weekenders. Their on-screen/in-booth rapport in Static Shock was a natural extension of their “real life” relationship.
“Static Shock provided a second opportunity to play partners and best friends – which was great because we were already good friends,” LaMarr says. “Our friendship on the show was authentic. And there’s nothing better than getting paid every week to work with your friend.”
LaMarr says he truly coveted the role of Static – a super hero who spoke to his personal aspirations and cultural upbringing.
“As a comic book guy, Static was a dream come true – a character who really felt real to me,” LaMarr says. “I always thought Static would be what I would be if I got powers as a teenager. I loved Spidey and Bats, but I never wanted to be them. There are tortured souls, and everything they do is informed by that guilt. For Static, the worst problem was having to do homework.
“Moreover, it was so great to finally have a black super hero who didn’t have ‘black’ in his name. I could relate to him. Here’s a kid who is smart, who’s trying to do the right thing, dealing with relatable problems whether it was family or school or friendships. Despite that fact that it was a cartoon that revolved around super heroes, it felt real to me.”
Special Thanks To Gary Miereanu for the interview
PODCAST: Neil Gaiman
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