Malefic J’onzz, voiced by actor Phil LaMarr, first debuted on The CW’s “Supergirl” season four finale and has continued to wreak havoc in National City with his shape-shifting abilities throughout season five. As lead visual effects vendor, Encore VFX helps realize the malicious green Martian in his native form, which is full CG.
In preparation for his season four reveal, Encore VFX began modeling Malefic J’onzz before LaMarr was cast, collaborating with Showrunners Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller on developing the character’s general appearance. It needed to be clear that he was the brother of established character Martian Manhunter but had experienced a rougher existence. Encore VFX Executive Creative Director and VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian led the design process, then the final character animation and design were informed by LaMarr’s voiceover performance.
“We used the recorded performance of Phil’s voiceover sessions as the emotional guide for Malefic, mirroring the nuance behind each line reading,” detailed Encore VFX Producer Brian Reiss. “In early episodes, Malefic is only shown in his alien form, so the character’s head is completely digital. Animators used the stunt actor’s real body as a guide, matchmoving each frame of the actor, then animating the head. The performance is all brought to life after Phil records his dialogue and we use that to drive our animation, even for action sequences where Malefic is in flight or dematerializing into the Phantom Zone and the character is full CG.”
While LaMarr is no stranger to providing his vocal talents to series and features, rarely is it for an animated character that’s incorporated into a live action project. LaMarr shared, “It was funny because when I finally saw Malefic’s Martian face, it almost looked like it had been modeled on me. In fact, there were a lot of people who, when they saw my name in the credits, thought that I had played Malefic on-camera with makeup! The work of Encore VFX is really great.”
To achieve LaMarr’s likeness, Encore VFX scanned the actor as well the character’s costume. This allowed artists to create an exact replica of each for reference and more seamlessly transition between shots with a full digital double and those in which a stunt double body is used.
Tune into “Supergirl” episodes on Sundays at 9 PM Central on The CW for a look Malefic J’onzz in action. For more information on the series, visit: https://www.cwtv.com/shows/supergirl/