How Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s Yuri Lowenthal Unleashed Peter’s Dark Side

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Yuri Löwenthal He always wanted to be Spider-Man, and he has proof. As we chat over Zoom weeks before the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, he excitedly snaps out a photo of himself as a kid, dressed in that trademark Spidey mask.

“It’s me and my sister. I must have been like five years old. That’s her as Batman. And me with the Spider-Man mask. If you had told that child that when he grew up, and possibly, also old man, who could play Spider-Man…” he trails off. “That doesn’t even count. “It really is just a dream that I hope I never wake up from.”

The veteran voice actor has played Peter Parker in several projects since 2011, but he really hit it big when he landed the lead role in Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man series, the first game of which was published in 2018. For his work, Lowenthal It was nominated for best performance at The Game Awards that year.

When he returned to play Peter for the long-awaited sequel, which premiered on October 20, Lowenthal couldn’t rest on his laurels. In the game, Peter tangles with Venom, a murderous alien symbiote with a terrifying hive mind. As the symbiote takes hold, Peter becomes increasingly aggressive (both verbally and in combat), a significant departure from the happy-go-lucky character fans are accustomed to.

Childhood photo of Yuri Lowenthal (left) and his sister.
Courtesy of Yuri Löwenthal

“I’ll be honest with you, it was hard for me, because Peter is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” Lowenthal tells him. Variety. “Making Peter unfriendly was difficult for me, because I had gotten to a place where Pete was easy. Pete is me. “We are friendly and helpful, and I understood all the decisions as we went along.”

“Getting him to where he is was difficult, because it seemed so contrary to who Pete is. I felt exhausted at the end of those sessions in a way I normally don’t. Psychologically, it was difficult to make Pete do those things and he tired me out in a way that he didn’t expect,” he continues.

Of course, Lowenthal didn’t work alone on creating the symbiotic Peter, collaborating with Venom actor and horror icon Tony Todd. A big smile crosses Lowenthal’s face when he mentions Todd. “Can we talk for a second about how wonderful Tony is? He’s so cool. Very cool. He is so Cold!”

“I loved working with him,” he adds. “That was a really important part of the process for us, because we knew it was an important part of the story. We really had to figure out how the symbiote affects Peter, not just as a general thing: in the beginning, how does it affect him? How does it affect you an hour after having the suit? How about two days after getting the suit?

In developing Peter’s dark side, Lowenthal was inspired by the properties of addiction. “At first, when Pete first gets the suit, it’s the best thing in the world. He’s excited: “I have all these new powers, I can be a better Spider-Man.” It’s a win-win! I’m the best! This is the best thing that has ever happened to me!’ That’s what drugs are like the first time, and then it starts to take its toll,” he says. “That bright new energy disappears. You are more of a slave to what it does to you than being in control of it.”

Marvel / Insomnia Games

However, Lowenthal didn’t have to live in that headspace for the entire recording. He also played on the opposite end of the spectrum, playing teenage Peter in a series of flashbacks. While the first Insomniac Spider-Man game began years after Peter became a superhero, these scenes give a rare glimpse of a naïve boy adjusting to his newfound powers. At one point, he even forgets where he kept his spare web shooters.

“I was excited that Insomniac decided to make that first game eight years after being bitten by a radioactive spider, because we’ve seen it so many times,” Lowenthal says. “You didn’t get to see that part of Peter’s experience and his life in that first game. And even though we didn’t need it, hopefully by seeing some of it in this game, you’ll realize how much you maybe missed it a little bit. It’s okay to come back.”

These scenes gave Lowenthal, 52, the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to sound significantly younger. “When I first came to Los Angeles to be a movie star, like everyone else, a lot of that work revolved around my appearance. I could not play that if it didn’t seem to me that. While in this world, if I can sound so, i could I know that. So, luckily, I’ve had some practice in the ‘sounding like a teenager’ department.”

In the flashbacks, fans also get more details about Peter’s friendship with Harry Osborne (Graham Phillips), who returns in this game after apparently being cured of the illness that kept him isolated for years. “We’ve talked about the relationship between Pete and Harry. We haven’t been able to experience it yet,” says Lowenthal. “It would be one thing to say, ‘Hey, Harry’s back.’ Remember? We love Harry! They are good friends.’ What a brilliant way for them to create the relationship we all need to feel in this game between Pete and Harry to make it all work.”

Spider-Man isn’t the only big project Lowenthal has released recently. He voiced the fan-favorite character Smoke in Warner Bros. Games. mortal kombat 1, which was released in September. However, Lowenthal admits that he wasn’t as familiar with the franchise as he was with Marvel.

“I’m immersed in Spider-Man. I grew up reading comics. He wasn’t a big Mortal Kombat player,” he says. “In my first session with Dominic Cianciolo, who was the writer and voice director, I thought, ‘I love getting to play a new character in Mortal Kombat!’ He says, ‘Oh, honey.’ Smoke is not a new character. We haven’t seen him in a long time, but he’s not a new character.’”

Lowenthal adds that roles like that don’t simply fall into his lap, even at his level of experience and notoriety. “I know everyone thinks that at this stage in my career I don’t have to audition for anything anymore, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If I’m lucky, I’ll still audition multiple times in a day.”

Marvel / Insomnia Games

And perhaps it’s this constant listening that makes Lowenthal feel so connected to Hollywood’s current labor disputes. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con in July, where Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 became the first game to appear in Hall H for a panel, he made an impassioned plea in support of amazing creatives. “We’re here this weekend, but we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and everyone at the WGA and the SAG,” he said. “We may be here because we have a different contract for games, but that may not last forever.”

Within months, that prediction became much more real, as members of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly in September to authorize a strike against 10 major video game companies (including Insomniac and WB Games).

“We are essentially fighting for the same things that the writers were fighting for. The same thing our film and television actor brothers and sisters fight for,” says Lowenthal. “I hope that the recent progress made by writers will help shorten our strike.”

“Something that I think will affect everyone in the future is the application of AI. “None of us are against technology,” he adds. “But I think because it’s so new and has such potential to exploit the people who helped create it — the performances that went into the machines to create it — we just need to establish some guidelines and an open line of communication between artists. , writers, creatives and AI companies, so we can all be on the same page.”

Yuri Lowenthal (right) with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 co-stars Laura Bailey, Nadji Jeter and Tony Todd at San Diego Comic-Con.
fake images

Lowenthal continues: “I know a lot of people say, ‘You all want more money.’ Sure, I’d love to get paid for the work I contributed to. But even more than that, it’s a question of consent. If you can suddenly take our data and force us to do whatever you want, it feels bad. I think anyone can sympathize with that and say, ‘Yeah, I’d hate to be manipulated into saying or doing something I never did or wanted to do.'”

On October 16, SAG-AFTRA Announced that will schedule more negotiation sessions on a new video game contract, in hopes of avoiding a second strike. For now, Lowenthal can bask in the glory of the new Spider-Man release.

“The people working on this game really love Spider-Man and they love telling these stories,” he says. “No one is slipping in that first game. Nobody says, ‘Well, that was enough.’ What they tried to do with this game was make everything better, and I just hope people feel that.”

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