Freedom Fighters: The Ray, a new animated series with the actor Russell Tovey providing the voice of the main character, is to debut Friday. The series is about a band of DC Comics heroes who live on Earth X, a parallel world in which Germany won World War II. Six episodes will be available on CW Seed, the CW network s digital content site.
Fans of the DC TV universe were introduced to this version of the Ray in live action and played by Mr. Tovey during the two-day, four-part Crisis on Earth X crossover last week, which included episodes of Supergirl, Arrow, Flash and DC s Legends of Tomorrow. (The Ray was originally introduced in Smash Comics No. 14, published in 1940.)
Amid fighting Nazis and evil versions of the title heroes the story made time for quiet moments, two weddings and some gay, lesbian and bisexual representation. White Canary (Caity Lotz) had a dalliance with Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), the sister of Supergirl, but the biggest surprise was the reveal of the relationship between the Ray and Citizen Cold (Wentworth Miller), which included an onscreen kiss. Mr. Tovey answered some questions about the episode and the future of the Ray by phone on Wednesday. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Are you a big superhero fan?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a superhero. That s always been something I astral projected. So when this came up, it was an easy yes especially for what the character stood for. It magnified my excitement in portraying him. Most of my acting mates everyone wants to play a superhero. It s definitely one of the boxes you want to tick. It feels wonderful to be ticking that box in a big way and with a big, pink triangle.
The depiction of the relationship between two of the gay heroes, the Ray and Citizen Cold, stood out during the Crisis on Earth X story line.
It made me very happy. Wentworth is just one of the nicest guys I ve worked with. He s so supremely Zen and open. We had the best time and we hung out outside of filming and he s become a friend. I said, People are liking us; the Ray and Cold together. He was thrilled. It s kind of crazy that in 2017 that s still seen as the unseen. Someone tweeted me or Instagrammed me a message. They are gay parents. Their son was watching the show and ran in to them and said, There are two superheroes who do what you do, when they kissed each other. He was so happy about it. So many people have been so supportive of seeing two superheroes who are gay played by two actors who are out. It seems like it became a bit of a moment. I couldn t be prouder to be one half of that moment.
This project was announced in August last year, but it is finally coming to fruition. How do you feel?
I was nervous. I love The Flash. I watch Legends of Tomorrow. I ve seen a bit of the Arrow and of Supergirl. To be part of that world, I felt the pressure of portraying a superhero what that means to fans, what this character will mean going forward. I wanted people to connect to him and want to see more of him and embrace him as part of the DC Universe.
How was the reception?
Someone forwarded a link where there were some guys trolling me. Someone was like, Why have they revoiced Russell Tovey? Maybe he couldn t do the American accent? I was like: You ve actually complimented me. It is my voice. They didn t need to revoice me. As an English actor, going into an American production with a huge American audience, that was something I wanted to get right.
What can we expect from the animated series?
We meet the Ray and we meet him on Earth X, where we met him in the crossover episodes. [The animated series will also introduce the Ray s parallel earth counterpart, Ray Terrill, a housing lawyer.] The Ray is dying and he transfers over to contact Terrill and give him his powers. You then see how Terrill becomes the Ray.
Will we see the Ray s relationship with Cold?
You may see a relationship blossom is all I can say. You re going to see a lot of Ray Terrill s friendships and how, in a parallel world, they are different. The scripts are so well written, beautiful and moving. When I read the scripts, I was sobbing at one point. I was really, really touched by the story. This is a guy who is gay and what he s going through and what becoming a superhero does to him.
What are you hoping the impact of this will be?
I m just so happy that it s out in the world. On prime time TV, you ve got two superheroes that are gay kissing and who are played by gay actors hopefully one day that will be normal. I want the Ray to become someone that gay kids watching TV who might feel a bit out there and not accepted or who don t understand themselves can relate to.