Joshua Orpin – Superboy on DC Titans

Today we are joined by Joshua Orpin who plays Conner Kent of HBOmax’s Titans!

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Joshua Orpin – Video Interview

[00:00:00]

Joshua Orpin – COMBINED: Hello listeners, a spoiler country today in the show. We have a very special guest, Mr. Joshua orphan. How are you, sir? Hi, I’m very well. Thanks. How are you? I’m doing very well. I’m a big fan of yours. I’m loving with HBO. Max is doing with Titans. It’s such a fun show and it’s. Respectful to fans of the comic books and the DC universe.

And I just wanted to give you huge props and for doing an excellent job. Thanks very much. I’m really happy to hear that you’re enjoying it. It, like I said, it’s fantastic. And so the first thing I always ask my guests, when I talk to, especially the actors, is that with you, I read that you started acting at the age of nine.

Is that correct? Oh, Yeah, I’m just trying to cast my mind back. Yeah, I think so. It would have been around then I, during primary school. Yeah. The school plays and stuff. I don’t know where you account as starting, you know, I’ve I didn’t start getting paid for it until, you know, a few years ago I’ve been doing it when I was, [00:01:00] since I was a little kid.

Yeah. So, so what was it about acting that really stuck with you? This is it like when they call it the actor bug? When did it bite you? So when did you catch on, was it, it was Dan man. It was, it was, yeah, it was. I want to say maybe, maybe even younger grade, grade three ish. I think we were doing a. It wasn’t even the school play.

It was the curtain raiser for the school play. So it was the play before the play. And for some reason I think I had expressed some enthusiasm and my teacher was like, Hey, do you want to ride it? And I was like, hell yeah, I want to ride it. So me and a friend of mine. Got together. And we create, we wrote this little short little play, and obviously we wrote ourselves the lead roles.

And I think the thing was, it was, it was a pirates might’ve been pirates of Penzance or something like that. And at the time I was really into this film called Muppets treasure island. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s basically a version of the [00:02:00] treasure island story. And so yeah, we decided to play dries that.

The cost ourselves in the lead roles, and then we performed it and yeah, I guess that’s when I got bit by the, there wasn’t. Yeah. I’d never felt anything like that before being on stage in front of a lot of people and feeling that kind of feedback from, from a live audience, it was exhilarating. And yeah, ever since I’ve been having a great time doing acting, my favorite parts of that story is that it was a teacher.

They got to start it. And as someone who’s a high school teacher, myself, I, I just really liked to, there was a teacher who helped get paved the way for. Yeah. Yeah, no, it teaches an instrumental more often than not. I especially, well, at least the good ones, certainly

even the bad ones can have an impact too, but that’s very true. That’s exactly true for better or worse. I also read, like I said, there’s actually was a website that I found, it was like 10 things you don’t know about Joshua. And hopefully there’s [00:03:00] a ride. And I, one of the things that I did mention was that two of your heroes and acting is Hugo weaving and Hugh Jackman is that.

Yeah, they, they I think that might’ve been taken from from an interview where I I was asked what Australian actors do I look up to? And that’s certainly the case with those two. Because you know, growing up, I loved watching films and I love watching those kind of big, big action films. And obviously those two were a big.

Big franchises said few Jacqueline with X-Men and he got waving with the matrix at the time I was really into, and I’m finding out that both of those guys were Australian and. Also had a body of work that transcended just those big Hollywood films and kind of stretch back to Australian theater and television and films.

That, that was definitely a huge inspiration for me as well. In my kind of journey to becoming an actor. Now it was as a fan of their work. Is there something you can tell about how they’ve [00:04:00] approached the roles or. Watching them stream that helped inspire how you approach your own acting. Cause obviously they’re huge, equally successful, but also amazingly good, talented actors as well.

So did that help you and how you approach it as well? I’m not sure there’s, there’s much that you can glean in terms of technique from watching another actor perform. And you know, speaking just my personal opinion is when I’m watching the actors. That I really like, I’m, I’m fully absorbed and I’m invested in the character.

I’m not thinking about what they’re doing technically as performance I’m I’m in that, I mean, I’m in the story, I’m captivated. And that’s certainly the case with those two when I’m, when I’m kind of watching them on screen. I’m so kind of captivated and absorbed in what they’re doing and the story that they’re telling and the, and the character that they’re portraying that I’m not really thinking.

The technicalities of, you know, the, the craft of what they’re actually using [00:05:00] to bring those characters to life. So I guess, I guess not what you want, you know, that’s what you want you don’t. I feel like if you’re, if you’re thinking, wow, that person’s really good at acting. Then maybe they’re not doing their job, right.

In some cases, you know, you, you want to be invested in the character and you want to be feeling for the character. And I mean, obviously as our, hopefully every listener knows you off your. And Titus and people are probably looking at your acting going you know, that’s the guy that we look up to as being the future actors in our lives.

I mean, you probably already have gotten a few people going. I want to be like Dr. Orphan on Titans. That is just incredibly humbling. I don’t really know what to, how to respond to that. And I often feel that it’s undeserved because I’m still on my, on my own journey and I’m still learning every day that I, that I do the [00:06:00] job.

So I, I often am kind of like, wow, this is, this is incredibly humbling. And I I’m, I’m grateful to have impacted people like this. But at the same time, You know, I I’m still a work in progress, you know, I don’t don’t pay too much attention. Well, I will say, as a teacher who teaches students, you know, as I’m an English teacher, I teach writing and things of that nature.

What I always tell them is those who are good at what they do and will be good are the ones who never feel like they have gotten to that point where they’re done. I think just the idea that you’re still thinking of yourself as, so in the process of learning. It probably shows is a great sign that you are going to be good at this long-term I hope you’re right.

I do. And thank you. But it’s, it’s one of the things I love about acting too. Even the actors I admire that are, you know, in the late fall, later in the Korea. That’s still learning to acting is a craft that you continue to, to work out and get better at and discover new [00:07:00] things indefinitely. You know, there’s no re there’s no retirement, unless you choose to quit.

You know, you don’t have to stop. You don’t have to stop learning and growing. So, so at least obviously your Thanks at some point in time for on HBO max. So how did that role come about for you? And did I assume your addition for what was the addition? Like, what did you know about the character in the audition?

Very little. It came to me as a self-tape which for those who don’t know, that’s just where you get the camera can be your phone, just film yourself, doing the scenes in your bedroom or whatever. And then. Which is kind of more common, especially now during the pandemic. Almost everything is self typing for me being an Australian.

But I, I had auditioned for the first season of Titans in 2017, I want to say. I didn’t get the role, but the way the Titans seems to send their auditions out is that they, they write these dummy sites, these fake scenes. [00:08:00] And I’ve actually kind of spoken to the, some of the writers about this just out of curiosity since, but They ha they obviously know what the character is that they’re casting.

And they come up with these scenes with alternate, alternate character names, but similar kind of traits that they’re looking at and kind of just manufacture these little short scenes for people to audition. So in this case for super boy, I had no idea that it was the super boy. I knew that it was for Titans.

I didn’t know the role and the character I was auditioning for. I think his name was Ben and it was just two scenes. The first scene. It was, he was arguing with a friend in a high school locker room, and then the second sane it was him reacting to the news that his mother was dead. It discovered that his mother had passed away.

So yeah, I did the, I did the tapes and then found out after the fact that it was for super boy.

Well, once you got the role once again, I read that you poured into the calm books, especially Titans, and obviously I’m sure you’ve read a lot of for boy. What were you able to [00:09:00] glean from the comic books that helped you with your role? Like what insights did you get? Not only just your character, but the Titans as well.

Yeah, it’s interesting because the comic books spend so many years. And every new rider that kind of comes on board has their own interpretation and their own take on the character. So it’s not as if you’re reading one long kind of chronology of, of the character and that consistent the whole time. You get kind of different perspectives where they, where they each rider that you.

And examine and, and each time it’s a, it’s a new iteration of the character and they have a new, you know, kind of internal monologue or a way of speaking and, and new traits, some similarities. So it was less about kind of trying to get get an idea of who the character was by reading everything. It was, it was just kind of getting a sense of the history what’s been done before.[00:10:00]

And then kind of identifying the parts that I felt were interesting. And, or I guess integral to the core of who that character is, or has been over the years. And couple that with the fact that obviously they’re the creators of Titans have their own ideas and their own opinions, and they want to do something.

New as well. So they’re coming up with these scripts and regardless of whatever research that I feel like I need to do, they’re going to get me a script at the end of the day. And I’m going to have the work from that script. And it just so happens that in this case, Kind of the, the things that I had identified in the comics that I was interested in and the things that they had put into the script kind of coalesced in a way that I found quite unique and original.

And I was quite pleased by that. I read that first script for season two, episode six, and I was kind of [00:11:00] blown away by the originality and the kind of the fresh take on the character. And I was very excited. To to get to work on it. And I think one thing that I just love about the character of counter Ken super boy is that at the genetic level, he’s half Superman, half Lex Luther, which are the most intense of each.

I mean the most opposite characters humanly possible are these two Superman and Lex Luther. And you have to play a combination of both. And when you’re performing that. Way that you lean into more one than the other is our way that you’re incorporating both ideas of the evil mastermind and the wholesomeness of Superman.

When, when you’re doing this and bringing both of them together and your performance absolutely it’s situational. So I think that those instincts are, are inherent within him at all times. You know, he has the capacity to show great compassion. And also great malevolence at any given moment, depending on the situation.

So yeah, [00:12:00] it depends on the context. It’s important to have those things bubbling underneath because you know, they’re always there, they’re not going away. But on top of that on maybe on a more surface level, you also have to kind of think about Connor’s own perception of those things within them, because he’s aware of that, right.

He’s aware of. The duality of those, those two sides of him from each of his fathers. He’s also aware of how H and his father is a perceived by others in his life. So he’s kind of thinking, well, everyone seems to think that Lex Luther is a pretty terrible guy. So whenever I feel though, Impulses and those emotions that might be, you know, more indicative of the Lex Luther side of him, you know, coming to the forefront.

I should suppress that because that’s what other people want me to do. So you see what I mean? You can kind of layers and layers and layers get added onto it as he thinks about it. And as he thinks about other, what other people think about. But, [00:13:00] but at the end of the day, it’s I think it’s incredibly interesting and satisfying.

It’s, it’s, it’s a great framework from which to approach a situation or scene in the show. It’s. I have a lot to work with. It’s a lot of fun. And I mean, and just adding, even layers to your performance, you’re dealing with the fact that you are the character, not you directly, the character it’s quite literally in adult, but adult who I’m not sure of the exact timeline is only what, like a year and a half old, two years old, maybe.

I mean, I mean, I mean, how are you when you’re performing? Like, how are you balancing the fact that you’re on the one hand, this adult. Super boy, but the other hand you’re kind of your character is actually also in like, almost like an infant almost. I mean, he’s only two years old. He’s only been in the world for that span of time.

How are you also incorporating that too? Cause, I mean, like I said, he’s so multilayered that character. Yeah. That was one of the things that, that, you know, that. I referenced earlier about the new, [00:14:00] the script, the first script I got, I was like, wow, they’re really leaning into this NYPD that he has this innocence.

And I thought that was really apt and interesting as well. But yeah, you’re right. It is, it is, it’s quite fascinating because he has the capacity to be so intelligent and he’s booked spot, right. He can write things super fast and he can understand scientific concepts and he can apply engineering knowledge, all inherited from Lex Luther and, and diffuse a bomb in 10 seconds.

But he still doesn’t understand how relationships work. He doesn’t understand the concept of money when he’s, when he’s first born, but he can give you the definition of, of nuclear fusion or whatever it was. So I feel like it’s less of a an age thing. Cause, cause in Connor’s case, the actual time that he’s been on the planet doesn’t seem to be that relevant.

As you say, it’s probably around that one and a half or two years kind of time [00:15:00] period. But. It’s more about kind of the gaps in his knowledge and his, his situational awareness, because what, where he’s lacking is just awareness of how to behave and in terms of his interpersonal relationships and just that just the everyday day-to-day nuance.

Of how to function as a human being in society. And as time goes on, he’s gonna, he’s gonna learn more and he’s going to become more adept at that. And he’s going to, and he’s going to grow at perhaps an accelerated rate compared to other people like we’ve already seen this season that his. Kind of come into his own in terms of his romantic development or pubescent development for want of a better phrase.

So yeah, I think that we’ll continue to see him grow up mentally as the shark continues. Oh, speaking of relationships, I mean, people have watched recently. [00:16:00] That Superbowl and Blackfire have awfully started some sort of relationship relationship on some level. And I mean, honestly by far is a full grown adult who is probably somewhat worldly.

Super boy is just probably the first time in relation to, as he’s mentioned, how potentially damaging is the ratio of the Blackfire to super boy. I mean, from an emotional standpoint, well, regardless. Of how it turns out. So I’m not going to spoil it’s going to be incredibly formative, you know, it’s it’s, as you say, it’s his first real relationship.

Uh it’s it’s his first time being physically intimate with somebody and, you know, regardless of What happens, it’s going to be an experience that informs his understanding of relationships and sex [00:17:00] indefinitely moving forward. I think that the relationship with black farm in particular was a very interesting choice and I can kind of see where, why Connor engages in the way that he does.

We see in Blackfire and this kind of ties into my earlier point before that she kind of has a different view of him and his genetic makeup. And she’s not kind of, she’s not kind of held back by. You know, preconceived notions of who Superman is and who Lex Luther is. She sees Connor as a person made up of these conflicting emotions and, and she kind of approaches that in a way that none of the other Titans do.

Right. Because if you talk to any other Titans, they’re going to tell Kona, oh, it’d be like Superman, but kind of. Well, okay, thanks. Dead spoilers. I’m obviously struggling to be like Superman. What the hell am I supposed to do? Am I broken? What’s wrong with me? And then [00:18:00] along comes Blackfire and she’s like, well, you know, you run person, you don’t have to be Superman or Lex Luther.

You can maybe it’s okay to be whatever combo of both or even transcend those two things entirely and just become who you want. Now, I mean, obviously what we know of black fires that her own background is a little sketchy. She probably murdered, she murdered her parents for pending on who you talk to good or bad reasons.

I mean, I assume Starfire has a very different perspective than she does life. Doesn’t. Is her, you think she’s more interested in the Luther kind of aspects of super boy or the Superman version of him and as the actor who knows the character, that’s what that may be the writers is. Do you see this as a relationship that has a future within the Titan show?

Yeah. Yeah. I think that from speaking from black FYS perspective, It’s [00:19:00] almost kind of similar for her in that you can see when she arrives on and at Wayne Manor that everyone regards her would, this would this deep kind of trepidation and, and, you know, bordering on malevolence, especially Corey, you know, she she’s regarded as this as Cory’s evil sister remoted her parents.

And she comes in with all this history and everyone’s very aware of. But Connor kind of sees her and he doesn’t really know her at all has no context for who she is or what, what she’s like and kind of takes her at face value. And that I think is what Blackfire gets out of that relationship initially is that, you know, similarly to Connor, he kind of sees her with fresh eyes and he, he kind of sympathizes with that.

Does the relationship have a future? I don’t, I don’t know if I can say too much about that, but I think that will become apparent [00:20:00] by the finale of season three as a future. But regardless, it’s definitely going to be a significant You know, historical event for, for Connors growth and development as a, as a person.

I think I really liked what you said the most is that you’re the implication that could be, I kind of mentioned, and I think a lot of people would assume because start Blackfire has the history that Blackfire has influence on sewer boy would be most significant, but I think it’s their interest in.

I mentioned that it’s actually. Potential influence on her. That could be just an equally significant to that character. And I think that’s a really interesting way to look at that as well. Cause who’re boy, once again he he’s impactful of a character as well. Once again, he’s part Superman who is inherently inf you know inspiration to people and Superbowl has that in him as well.

And I think that’s a fascinating way to look at that as well. Yeah, for sure. And I think one of the things that initially. Strikes [00:21:00] Blackfire about, about Superbowl is that he’s not afraid of her at all. Everyone else in Wayne, man, I, everyone else that she has met since she’s landed on earth, it’s terrifying.

And with good reason, the con kind of Caesar and he’s completely unfazed. And I think that catches her off guard and in, in the best way, and kind of facilitates the blossoming of, of their relationship. But yeah, and one of the big storylines, honestly, for this season is going to be the red is the red hood and Jason Todd, who we all know.

You know, was Robin and, you know, the first two seasons and, you know, turn and we all know I’m for the listeners, all know what Jason Todd did to Hawk, which I feel almost, almost anyone else other than dove feels it the most is gonna be super boy. And in a recent episode, it made clear that Jason Todd wants to come back into the fold.

How, how do you think sewer boy? He’s able to [00:22:00] handle would be able to handle something like that. I mean, is it for forgiving? Forget, you know, oh, everything’s okay. Or is it, you know, Jesus Christ, you killed my friend. And I was the one who was there, you know, who hold that responsibility of trying to save them at that moment.

How does that impact Superbowl or that possibility? Yeah. Well, we see, and I think episode eight that he has that immediate visceral negative reaction when they’re all discussing that notion with Dick. He’s like, absolutely not. He’s he’s done. He killed Hank, that’s it. There’s no forgiveness to be had.

And then God kind of chimes in talks about, you know, what it means for them to be a family and, you know, no one, no one else did against me when I was brainwashed by Cabaniss and met at a bunch of people. And that strikes a chord with Connor because he too was influenced by cabinets to hurt people. And I think that.

Gives them a little bit of perspective and give some pause in that [00:23:00] moment. Ultimately, does he have the capacity to forgive Jason? I don’t know. I don’t know if he does. I think that that idea. Ties into whether or not he can forgive himself for letting Hank die among the other things, the other mistakes that he’s made in the past.

But you know, the notion of forgiveness and redemption is, is ingrained in this season as a, as a, you know, formatically as a whole. And we’re going to explore that idea. We’ll continue to explore it as the season progresses and it must be so wonderful to play a character as complex as Superbowl.

I mean, there’s so much going on with him, from lakes of given himself. There’s like I said, the ratio and then in the Jason Todd situation, it must just be. Thrilling to be able explore his character. Every episode it’s incredibly rewarding as an actor, he’s, he’s such a rich kind of, of character to play just all the [00:24:00] all the emotions, all of the, the thoughts in his head, just as we were saying before, all those different layers that you can apply to, to the character.

I mean, it’s, it’s incredibly satisfying and, and, and frankly just quite fun to, to explore all those things on a daily basis. And in any given situation, in any given scene, there are numbers, a number of avenues. To, to navigate, to explore. And there’s always different options when I’m, when I’m reading the scripts, I’m like, wow, how’s Connor going to react to this?

You know, it’s never black and white, so it’s yeah, it’s incredibly rewarding and I feel very grateful to be able to, yeah. Now on Titans we’ve had, we obviously had Batman appear on the show and obviously with Superbowl. Are you behind the scenes? Are you kind of pushing, you know, can we see Superman or like Luther show up?

I mean, is there any hope of this happening because I can’t help, but think that’s gonna be an amazing interaction. Okay. That would be [00:25:00] very cool. And I would be very excited if that were to happen. Am I pushing for it to happen? No. I don’t feel that it’s within my power to make it happen. Also this isn’t you kind of have to remember this isn’t it’s not the super boys show.

Right? It’s the Titan. So there’s, there’s a bunch of other characters. And, and if we introduce a Superman and Lex Luther, then it’s kinda like, oh God, that’s kinda, that’s gonna eat up a lot of the focus, you know, and where we’ve got these other characters and their storylines too. It’s, it’s tough because you know, in the same way that.

That Batman is so important to, to, to Dick’s development and his transition from Robyn to Nightwing and his story arc over the three seasons we’ve had Superman is, and Lex a boat in the same way, significant to Connor and his, his growth and development. I don’t know. I, I don’t know [00:26:00] if they’ll ever be introduced into the, into the show.

I mean, in the same capacity that like Bruce Wayne has been my guess is that if they are introduced, they might be kind of introduced as a, more of an implied presence. In the vein of, of what Bruce Wayne was like in season one, for instance But yeah, who’s to say it’s really a it’s that’s above my pay grade.

So, so, so what can our listeners look forward to in the next episodes of a Titans? Well, tonight’s episode is going to be massive. It’s really good. It’s different to any other episode of Titans that’s come before. Cinematically it’s it’s, it’s got all, it’s got a different look. It’s got a interesting storyline, different characters that we haven’t seen so much of yet this season.

And beyond that I’m very excited for people to see these final, what are we talking? Three, four episodes of season three. There were some [00:27:00] twists and times for Connor. You’re going to see. You’re going to see a bit of a new side of him as he, he lanes kind of in one particular direction.

You’re gonna see the, the further kind of consequences and the fallout of Connor’s fling with black folks. And you know, on the whole I hope Wigan by all accounts. I, I think we’re going to see a really strong conclusion to a really strong. Well, I, at least I’ve been loving. What’s been going on with Titans.

I think it’s a fantastic show. And I want to thank you so much for talking with me and our listeners. Definitely. If you haven’t checked out any feel max Titans, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. You better be tuning in, catch up. Like I said, I wanna thank you so much, miss orphan for chatting with me.

You were fantastic. Thank you. Thanks very much. It’s been a pleasure and same here. Have a fantastic night. Oh, you too. Thank you.

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