Comics

The Marvel Life: Drake Bell

The "Ultimate Spider-Man" star talks his new film and more!

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Marvel fans know Drake Bell best as the long running voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man on the animated series “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Others remember him from his work on “Drake and Josh,” his music career, and numerous other television roles. We recently spoke with Drake on a press tour for his new film “Bad Kids of Crestview Academy,” a sequel to “Bad Kids Go 2 Hell,” about the movie, his favorite experience meeting a Spider-Man fan, and more.

Marvel.com: Were you a fan of the first Bad Kids film? What drew you to this role?

Drake Bell: Actually, no. I wasn’t familiar with the first film. I had to go back and check it out once I found the project, which was actually really cool because I had no idea that there was a comic book aspect to the movie when I got involved and that was probably one of the coolest things about the movie itself. It was like “Oh wait, so you guys are going to want me to go to all these comics cons?” They showed me the comic book. I’m a huge comic book fan and have been for all my life. My dad was into comics. They made all the characters from the movie into little comic book versions. I think the comic book aspect really turned me on as far as getting involved.

Marvel.com: So tell me a little bit about your character. He’s got some aspects of Peter [Parker] a little, right? Am I wrong?

Drake Bell: He’s a little sleazier, I would say. Peter’s like a nice boy, a good kid. I think my character in this movie is a lot more chauvinistic or a misogynist. The way he talks to Sammi; he’s biting his lip and saying all these dirty remarks to her. I don’t think those are things that Peter would ever say probably.

Marvel.com: For fans who have seen the first film, how would you get them to like this? And for fans who haven’t seen the first one, what would you say to get them to see this one?

Drake Bell: I would say that if you dug the first one then you’re definitely gonna dig this one. And people who haven’t seen the first one…I read the script before I saw the first film and loved it. And then watching the movie, I mean, you don’t even really need to see the first film to enjoy the second film. It’s got everything. It’s funny. It’s got great comedy. It’s got hot girls. It’s got blood and gore and flamethrowers. It’s got everything you could want out of a movie like this. If you’re into this genre, you’re going to love it.

Marvel.com: You’ve got to be one of the longest running Spider-Men of all time, if not the longest running, right?

Drake Bell: Yeah. It’s pretty awesome.USMWW 322-2

Marvel.com: That’s a pretty great mantle to have.

Drake Bell: It’s nuts to me. Like I said, growing up being a huge comic book fan, I loved Spider-Man. I remember that I used to go into my brother’s room when he’d go to school and I’d sneak his comic books out and read them and try to put them back exactly how they were so he wouldn’t know that I had touched them. He had all these awesome Spider-Man comics and I loved the character growing up. Of course I loved the Tobey [Maguire] movies, and then being able to go into the booth and play Spider-Man and be like “Oh my god, this is crazy. I’m playing Spider-Man.” But then when you see it, because it takes about nine months for you to finally see the episode that you recorded; when I finally saw the first episode it blew my mind. When you’re in the booth and you don’t get to see it, you’re like “Okay. I’m Spider-Man. I get it. I’m playing a super hero.” But when you see it, you’re like, “Holy crap, I’m Spider-Man! This is one of the most iconic super hero characters of all time and you can hear my voice coming out of him.” This is a trip. It’s so cool.

Marvel.com: Has there been one moment for you throughout the years that stays with you? Is there someone you worked with on the show that really stuck with you or a fan you met at a convention?

Drake Bell: There’s so many. Getting to work with Mark Hamill and Tom Kinney and Tara Strong; Paul Dini. I can’t even think of the list of voice actors that comes in. And they’ll be standing around you and you’re literally like “Oh my god, this is my childhood! You made Pinky and the Brain. You were Toucan Sam. This guy was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” The voice talent that came onto the show was mind blowing; the people that I got to work with. That and also just seeing how diverse the fan base for Spider-Man is was really cool for me. I remember I was walking into the Chateau Marmont one night and this big, I mean this big bouncer, big cowboy hat, big belt buckle, cowboy boots, jeans…I’m talking big and ripped. Five times a day at the gym, you know? He walks up and I start to go up and he goes “Hey! Hey buddy!” I was like “Whoa, what’d I do?” He was like “Can I talk to you for a second?” I was like “Yeah, sure.” He pulls me off to the side and he’s like “Hey, I just wanted to let you know, you’re by far my favorite Spider-Man voice that I’ve ever heard, man. I’m telling you, I’ve seen every episode. I’m a huge fan of ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ and you just do a great job. I just wanted to tell you.” I’m like “Bro, that’s a kids show.” [Laughs] So it was really cool going to these comic cons and going to places; I walk around all the time and I see kids wearing their “Ultimate Spider-Man” shoes and they’ve got their “Ultimate Spider-Man” backpacks and then teenagers come to Comic Con and they’re into it and then the adults are too. Like I said…this bouncer going like “Yeah man, I’ve seen every episode.” I’m like “Damn, who’s not into this show?” It’s so cool.

Marvel.com: Obviously, Tom Holland is playing him in the next film. What advice would you give to anyone who would ever play Spider-Man moving forward?

Drake Bell: I would say, “Just have fun.” Playing Spider-Man for me, I just remember what I heard in my head when I read the comics. You can’t make Spider-Man too serious. Even when he tries to be a serious super hero and intense and all this, he’s still –if you read the old comics—he’s always quipping, he’s always making jokes. I think that’s kind of what’s cool. I don’t know anything, haven’t seen anything of the new film but I think with them going younger… he’s in high school…I think that’s a good idea because Spider-Man isn’t this older Tony Stark. He’s just a kid. He’s this young kid who all of a sudden got these powers; and he accidentally got the powers. So how would a kid react to that? Would he all of a sudden be like “Oh, I’m going to be this intense super hero?” No, he’d be this wisecracking teenager kid that he is. Just now he’s cracking jokes at the Green Goblin instead of his buddies at school. So I think that’s what I would say. Have fun and remember that he’s a teenager. He’s just a kid.

Follow Drake on Twitter at @DrakeBell and catch “Bad Kids of Crestview Academy” available now in theaters and On Demand.