Jack Quaid says it was a 'tonal whiplash' to make 'My Adventures With Superman' and 'The Boys' at the same time

Quaid explains why he prefers to put a "positive spin" on the Man of Steel and teases his upcoming appearance on "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

Jack Quaid voices the Man of Steel in the new Max animated series, My Adventures with Superman. (Photos: Adult Swim/Getty Images)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A grim and gritty Superman? That's so 2013. Heck, it's also so 1983. The Man of Steel's future looks considerably brighter in the new versions of the DC Universe that are coming to the big and small screens over the next few years. Case in point: My Adventures With Superman, a new animated series starring the Last Son of Krypton that took flight on Adult Swim on July 7. Set during Clark Kent's first days as a Daily Planet journalist — not to mention his first days wearing a certain blue-and-red super suit — the show presents us with a superhero who won't let his inexperience get in the way of doing the right thing. And that's the kind of Superman that series star Jack Quaid is proud to voice.

"What I love about the character is that he's a person who wants to do the right thing," the 31-year-old actor tells Yahoo Entertainment about his positive and proactive version of Metropolis's hometown hero. "To see a superhero doing something super and heroic is very heartwarming to me." [This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike.]

At the same time, Quaid is also quick to say that he's got nothing against the darker versions of Superman that have been attempted in the past, whether it was Henry Cavill's angst-ridden take in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel or Christopher Reeve's angry prankster in Richard Lester's Superman III. "A gritty Superman isn't necessarily out of character," notes Quaid, who sees plenty of bad superhero behavior on his other comic book adjacent-series, The Boys.

"I prefer the positive spin on him, but I think Henry's performance as both Clark and Superman was wonderful," Quaid continues. "Every conceivable iteration has been valid; this is a character that has existed for so long and you have to take risks and try new things because otherwise you're just repeating yourself."

Still, it's notable that new DC Studios co-head James Gunn is consciously moving away from the grittier Cavill era in his 2025 reboot, Superman: Legacy, which will kick off a new phase of DC's beleaguered cinematic universe. The Suicide Squad writer/director has spoken openly about embracing the character's "kindness" in his portrayal, and that trait will presumably be on the mind of the actor who has been announced as the next to inherit the S-shield previously worn by Reeve, Cavill and Brandon Routh on the big screen: David Corenswet.

Corenswet may not be a household name yet, but he's already a familiar face to Quaid. "We did a pilot together years ago that never got picked up," the actor says, referring to The Tap — a 2017 pilot for the USA Network that never made it to the airwaves. "When you meet him, your first thought is: 'Whenever they need a new Superman, this will be the guy.' He embodies so much of what makes the character special and I think he's gonna knock it out of the park. No matter what take they wind up going with, I know he's going to nail it."

We spoke with Quaid about his own take on Superman, and which DC hero his dad, Dennis Quaid, should guest voice. Spoiler alert: it's a character that is supposed to be a dark... knight.

Clark Kent (Quaid) is just beginning his career as a journalist and a superhero in the new Adult Swim cartoon, My Adventures with Superman. (Photo: Courtesy Adult Swim)
Clark Kent (Quaid) is just beginning his career as a journalist and a superhero in the new Adult Swim cartoon My Adventures with Superman. (Photo: Courtesy Adult Swim) (Adult Swim)

Anyone who grew up watching Superman: The Movie remembers the scene where Christopher Reeve shifts between Clark Kent and Superman simply by taking off his glasses. That's an iconic moment and has become so central to screen portrayals of the character's split identity. How did you want to approach the Clark vs. Superman divide?

Well, in this series he's a younger Clark who is becoming Superman for the first time. So I wanted it to be subtle — it would have been weird for my version of Clark to have this really exaggerated, "Hello, I'm Superman!" voice. [Laughs] Also, I don't think he really wants to put on this air of "I'm stronger than everyone else," you know? That's not really his vibe. I wanted it to feel like he's not quite comfortable in Superman's shoes just yet; he's still figuring that part of himself out. That's a slightly different direction for the character to take, but I also think it's one that audiences haven't seen a ton of either.

To that point, it's notable that when Clark appears in the Superman suit for the first time, his first words to his mother are: "Don't worry, it's still me."

Oh yeah. For scenes like that where he's with people that know that Clark is Superman, I wanted to make sure he wasn't putting on a voice then. Because why would he?

Speaking of Superman: The Movie connections, the first time that we see Clark use his powers as an adult in your series, it's to save a cat that's stuck in a tree. That's absolutely a reference to Superman's first night in Metropolis from the film, yes?

I mean, he's got to save a cat, right? It's also a classic screenwriting tip — the hero always has to "save the cat" in the first ten pages of the script or whatever. But I love that it's his first on-camera save. And I also like that it's sneaky: He doesn't want anyone to see him do it, but he has to do it. No matter what else he is trying to do with his day job as a reporter, he needs to be the guy to save a person or a cat.

Jack Quaid and Dennis Quaid attend a 2015 film premiere in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jack Quaid and Dennis Quaid attend a 2015 film premiere in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images) (Getty Images)

While we're talking other live action superheroes, before Michael Keaton was cast as Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 film, your dad, Dennis Quaid, was rumored to be in the running for the part. Did he ever share that with you?

I never knew that! I never knew he was a rumored Bruce Wayne. He's never talked to me about it. That would have been a weird alternate timeline for me. But I love Keaton's Batman so much. He's the perfect version of Batman.

Were you happy to see him suit up again in The Flash recently?

Oh yeah, that was awesome. Growing up, my signature Batman was Christian Bale just because those movies hit theaters as I was coming into my nerdom as a teenager. I was also a big fan of Batman Beyond when I was a kid, and I think Robert Pattinson is killing it as Batman now, too. I've loved pretty much every take on Batman.

Reid Scott already voices Clark's father on My Adventures With Superman, but if Batman ever makes an appearance down the line, maybe you could ask your dad to voice the role to close the circle.

Let's go for it! It might be cool. [Laughs]

Lois Lane (voiced by Alice Lee) chats up Superman (Quaid) in an episode of My Adventures with Superman. (Photo: Courtesy Adult Swim)
Lois Lane (voiced by Alice Lee) chats up Superman (Quaid) in an episode of My Adventures With Superman. (Photo: Courtesy Adult Swim) (Adult Swim)

Obviously, your mother, Meg Ryan, is a rom-com legend. Did she give you any pointers on how to navigate the rom-com elements of Clark and Lois's relationship?

No, not really. The executive producers, Brendan Clogher and Jake Wyatt, were wonderful in the booth in terms of knowing exactly the kind of romance they wanted Clark and Lois to have. They were very specific about the tone they wanted to hit, and I just had to try my best to bring what they wanted. We've seen that romance time and time again, but watching it play out in this version is great. They're just so cute together! I root for them immediately, and actually get kind of emotional watching their scenes. Alice Lee does such a wonderful job as Lois. I've actually only ever met her one time when I was coming out of a recording session and she was going in. And I've never even met Ishmel Sahid who plays Jimmy Olsen. I hope to one day, because they're both wonderful on the show.

You made a great rom-com yourself a few years back, Plus One, with Maya Erskine. It feels like the genre isn't as present in theaters anymore — do you hope it makes a comeback?

There have been a lot of rom-coms that have come out of the woodwork on Netflix and I think there have been a few on Prime Video. So it's kind of having a resurgence. And I would love to do another rom-com — Plus One was a great experience. I've been sent some scripts, but I feel like it has to be the right version of a rom-com and just different enough from Plus One to get me to do it. It's a genre that I love and have such a good time with, so I'd love to do it again.

Did watching Antony Starr play a demented Superman on The Boys all these years burrow into the back of your head at all while you were playing Superman yourself?

A little bit, but he's also playing such a maniacal, evil person on that show. So as long as I don't go full maniacal and evil it's very easy! All I have to do as Superman is just do the opposite of whatever Homelander does. It would be weird if I came in saying, "I want Superman to be a psycho," because that's definitely not this show. [Laughs]

But also, the way I like to think about My Adventures With Superman is that it's the kind of show that Annie and Hughie would watch all the time if it existed in The Boys universe. It would be their Ted Lasso, you know what I mean? It's a think they could watch and go, "Finally, something nice!" To see a positive take on a superhero would be wonderful for them. By yeah, it was definitely a tonal whiplash for me to go from a voiceover booth for this show to the set of The Boys. But I was so happy to get to play two sides of the superhero coin.

Besides your superhero nerdom, I have to ask about your Star Trek nerdom as well. You and Tawny Newsome appear on this season of Strange New Worlds as the live action version of of your animated Lower Decks characters. What was it like donning the Starfleet uniform for real?

That was crazy! There were rumblings that it could happen, and then it became real very, very fast. It's funny, because I've obviously played Boimler before, but I had never really inhabited him in my body. While I was shooting that Strange New Worlds episode, I realized that my mannerisms are not his mannerisms. So I actually watched Lower Decks so that I could copy the mannerisms that the animators gave his character and bring them to my performance. It was a fun challenge to be a live action cartoon.

That episode was directed by the amazing Jonathan Frakes, and he was so good at finding the tone that would make sure it felt like an episode of Strange New Worlds with the Lower Decks characters and not the other way around. And I will say that it's an out-and-out comedy. There's not thriller elements or anything else to it: It's just a full-blown comedy set on the Enterprise. I'm really excited for people to check it out. I won't spoil anything, but I had a lot of scenes with Ethan Peck, who plays Spock. So get ready for "Spoimler" — that's all I'm gonna say.

My Adventures With Superman airs Thursdays at midnight on Adult Swim and streams on Max the next day.