Xolo Mariduena can now be heard voicing a character on "Batwheels." Photo courtesy of WarnerMedia
NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Cobra Kai co-stars Jacob Bertrand and Xolo Mariduena say they wanted to lend their voices to characters in the new animated series, Batwheels, because it is the first DC Comics adaptation made especially for preschoolers.
The show focuses on the talking, anthropomorphic vehicles driven or flown by various Gotham heroes and villains, such as Batman (Ethan Hawke), Robin (AJ Hudson), Batgirl (Leah Lewis), Catwoman (Gina Rodriguez) and Mr. Freeze (Regi Davis).
Bertrand plays Bam, Batman's trusty batmobile, while Mariduena voices Snowy, Mr. Freeze's ice cream truck.
"I really like how high-energy the show is. We get to have a lot of really fun, cool, wacky storylines," Bertrand, 22, told UPI in a recent phone interview.
Mariduena, 21, added: "Intellectual property like Batman is usually so dark and so gritty and usually skews in the opposite direction when it comes to demographics, but being able to use something like Batman and the cars [that the humans] drive to make a more light-hearted version is cool, too."
The actors said they also liked that the show explores essential themes, such as teamwork, heroism and friendship.
"There's something really special about the superhero universes and what that means to a lot of children and, hopefully, we'll be able to put a good message out there," Bertrand said.
The actor described Bam as the "super-fun-loving, super-happy" leader of the Batwheels.
"He's very, very dedicated to his Batwheels, all of his siblings," Bertrand said. "He's always looking out for them. He's very much a hero's hero. He has all the coolest gadgets, in my opinion, and I think he has some of the best catchphrases by far."
Mariduena joked that Snowy is "way cooler" than Bam, despite being a "little oafish."
"Even though he is one of the villain's cars -- Mr. Freeze's ice cream truck -- I think maybe he joined the Legion of Zoom because maybe he got tricked into it, like a timeshare," he said.
"He thinks: 'Oh, no! I'm too nice for this. I don't belong here.' He wants to be part of the good guys, but he's too loyal. He can't do it. He's a very sweet villain."
"We're still going to throw you in jail," Bertrand teased.
There wasn't any animated footage finished by the time he and Mariduena taped their dialogue, so they based their performances on the character descriptions the network provided.
"There's something really funny about a villain whose car can't go past 20 miles an hour. He's got big, old kind of dumb eyes. There was something really fun about exploring. 'What the heck would an ice cream truck sound like?'" Mariduena asked.
The pair recalled that most of the young male cast members of Cobra Kai auditioned for voice parts in Batwheels.
"Jacob booked it," Mariduena said. "We were all freaking out, and then a week later I found out that I booked a role in it, too. We were like, 'What?' Two shows back to back! Now every show we're going to do for the rest of time, we're going to try to book together."
Bertrand recorded his Batwheels lines in a closet in his home with audio equipment the television network sent him during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
"I was recording for a week or two and Xolo found out he booked it. So, he got to come into my recording closet," he said.
Although they used the same studio setup, they recorded their lines separately.
"I just got to sit in there and watch him work," Bertrand said. "After every take, I would go: 'Yay! Great job, Xolo!'"
The actors said voice acting is a great -- and flexible- - way to stay busy and creative in between their live-action jobs.
"When you can't see someone's face, there are so many other tools you can use to really distinguish these characters and bring some life to them," Mariduena said.
"Jacob and I are just really just kooky dudes. It suits us well to go have a place where we can just jump up and down in a recording studio."
"This is perfect for us," Bertrand laughed.
New episodes of Batwheels air on Cartoon Network's Cartoonito Mondays and HBO Max Tuesdays. All five seasons of Cobra Kai -- in which Bertrand and Mariduena play Hawk and Miguel, respectively -- are streaming on Netflix.