Hari Payton Interview — “Young Titans, Go!” and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse


As the world is once again in danger from Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom, DC Super Hero Girls must turn to Teen Titans Go! for help. The latest crossover, dubbed Mayhem in the Multiverse, shows Luthor trapping most of the world’s superheroes in the Phantom Zone with the help of the dangerous Kryptonian spirit Cytonia, locked in an ancient amulet.

Hari Payton, who made a name for himself in the world of voice acting thanks to roles in everything from “Young Justice” to “Invincible”, and who received recognition as Ezekiel in “The Walking Dead”, takes on the role of Cyborg. Refined and full of enthusiasm, he helps the team on its best days.

Ahead of the film’s release, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with Payton to discuss Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, the growing legacy of his show, the impending end of “The Walking Dead” and more.

Screen Rant: I was absolutely delighted with the film, I’ve been a fan of your work with Cyborg for many years. With that said, Young Titans, go ahead! Now almost a decade behind you, what has it been like for you to explore this character through two radically different tones over the years?

Hari Payton: To be honest, I feel like Young Titans and Young Titans, go ahead!, the difference in tone is [key]. In the first show, sometimes it was very serious, and sometimes it was very stupid, and we just leaned towards the stupid side of the old show, and then just took it to another level. But really, it’s just different sides of me. [Laughs]

At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that Teen Titans Go! The five of us from the Young Titans got together, started drinking, went a little overboard, went a little crazy, woke up the next morning and thought, “What the hell just happened?” And we just keep doing it 11 minutes at a time.

This is probably the funniest description I’ve ever heard for Teen Titans Go! for now.

Hari Payton: [Laughs] I think that’s pretty accurate. When you think about them, at the beginning of each episode they’re already drunk, they’re already high, and you think, “This is going to be good.”

I’m going to go back and look at it through this lens. So, what was your first reaction when you received this script?

Hari Payton: It’s funny, man, I immediately laughed because I thought: “This is the most honest script I’ve read.” The script literally sounds like this from the very beginning: “Hello, this is a show in which we would like to take the popularity of one show and the popularity of another show, and hopefully thanks to this both shows will become more popular.” [Laughs] We’re not joking at all, we’re going to be as honest as possible, and it’s a joke, and I like it.

This self-referential humor turns me on every time. Were you at all, I don’t want to say disappointed, but was there any part of you that would like the Young Titans to play a more prominent role in the film than they eventually got?

Hari Payton: When we were singing a crossover song and it was something like, “Yes, we want to be part of the movie,” but the thing is, you wouldn’t have this song if we didn’t stick to the Formula that we decided. But the most interesting thing is that all of us who participate in Teen Titans Go! in fact, they starred in several episodes of the DC Super Hero Girls show. So we really had that experience, so it was great to use it in a different direction. I thought, “Oh, man, we didn’t hit it at all,” but I like it. It was a joke that literally by the end we were like, “Hey! We’re just being used!” I loved it, I loved it.

How do you think things are going with both Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls, who are more and more resonating with the public, the longer these shows go on?

Hari Payton: I think, firstly, that the age of superheroes is something we can all relate to because we were all at that age. Spider-Man has always been my favorite superhero, and one of the reasons for that is that in high school he wasn’t such a huge, muscular superhero, he was a skinny kid who was just a nerd, and then he put on this mask and he comes to life. I really felt a kinship with him because I was a skinny little kid who was into comics and science, and I was a little shy. But when I got on stage, man, I came alive. In this, Spider-Man reminded me of myself.

I think we can see ourselves in these characters because we all feel a little different and a little special in middle school and high school and a little bit like losers. Titans and DC Super Hero Girls, they’re living the dream, they’re teenagers, but they’re single, they live with their friends and go to school at some private school, and they… they live on an island and in a big superhero building, and they have to take care of each other and themselves.