When it comes to the version of the Green Goblin making his debut this weekend in the hour-long episode of “Ultimate Spider-Man, actor Steven Weber doesn’t want to reveal too much when we talk. He will say, “The conclusion of the series will make everybody’s jaw drop. [The animators] did an amazing job.” The update to the classic Spidey villain in the episodes “Revealed” and “Rise of the Goblin” remix elements from the existing versions of the character in both the 616 and the Ultimate universes.
Created when Norman Osborne’s machinations get in the way of Dr. Octopus’s plans, the hulking monster presents a new and even more formidable threat for Spider-Man as the first season of the Disney XD series comes to a close.
“I’ve been a fan of the Marvel Universe since I was a little child,” Weber confesses at the start of our chat. The “Wings” star, who’s done guest parts in everything from “2 Broke Girls” to “Falling Skies” with feature work in things like “The Shining” remake effuses like a kid about grown up with the Ditko iteration of Norman Osborne.
He says that in tackling the human side of the Oscorp CEO, he made him more of a “corporate evil guy,” inflecting his speech with a Mid-Atlantic dialect. Weber sees Osborne as a prep school prat all grown up, cold and cruel towards his son, driven by ruthless ambition in business. “He’s so focused, he’s actually put aside the majority of his humanity,” Weber tells me.
The relationship with Harry Osborne is particularly poignant to Weber who says he could never see himself being emotionally distant in that way, but it makes Norman more of a challenge for the actor. “It’s hard for me to think that he raised Harry in any other way than that extremely stern atmosphere. And yet we kind of discover later on that that there are interesting filial bonds between Harry and Norman.” Weber says that he extrapolated from that relationship a possible lack of love from Norman’s own father growing up, but he he believes that Norman does love his son in his own distant and manipulative way.
Weber seems thrilled at this week’s transformation of Norman from business jerk to full-on supervillain, describing Norman’s alter ego as “Not your father’s Green Goblin.” Gone are the stocking cap, the glider, and the high-pitched laugh, evolved into something closer to the Ultimate take on the character. For the actor, he’s the culmination of all of Norman’s evil, his ambition, and his dark drive in monstrous form. Weber jokes that if the new and old Goblins were to meet, the latter would likely come out at the bottom of that fight.
“[He] represents the culmination of what the audience expects a driven villain to be.” He says that the current Goblin represents an all-new threat to Peter: a combination of strength, size, and intellect in a way that could really put the teen hero through his paces.
Besides being emotionally challenging, the character also represented a vocal challenge–in the booth, the actor had to modulate his voice for the role of the Goblin, saying that by the time he was done, there was a “pink mist” left on the microphone from what was left of his vocal chords. He connected with the voice based on the concept art delivered by the animators. He says that he had to dig deeper, drawing on his knowledge of film monsters, comics, and fantasy to arrive at his new version of the Green Goblin. While he was proud of his work in the booth, he admits that he still hasn’t heard it played back in full, but he was excited hearing some of the initial playback.
In closing, I asked Weber who his dream team of animated supervillains would be comprised of. The lontime comics fan immediate called out the Rhino, Dr. Octopus, his take on the Goblin, and the Trapster (who he also voices on “Ultimate Spider-Man”).
The Green Goblin will emerge in the two-parter “Revealed” and “Rise of the Goblin” on Sunday, October 28th at 11 AM on Disney XD.