The actor we will be taking a look at in this weeks edition of cult actors is Simon Templeman also known as Simon Templeton. Now Simon has enjoyed a very long career across many different mediums, stage, film, and television, but I’d say his greatest success by and large has been in the sci fi and fantasy genres.
Whether that’s as Larry Bird in the sci fi comedy “The Neighbours”, or as the Vampire Kain in the acclaimed “Legacy of Kain” video game series, or as the Angel of Death in “Charmed”, or even as Doctor Doom in the old 90’s “Fantastic Four” animated series. Templeman is most recognised for his genre roles.
Like many other character actors, Templeman’s largest and most prominent roles tend to be villainous. His rich, distinctive voice and tall imposing frame make him a natural choice for villainous roles as well. Still despite his typecasting problem Templeman has managed to maintain a very steady career with arguably his greatest success being in the video game medium. Over the course of the past 20 years Templeman has practically become the go to guy for a video game badguy.
Whilst he has never really been out of work throughout his entire career, I must admit I do feel that Templeman is somewhat underrated. I think he should get a chance to play a really big villainous role like a Bond villain.
Still he has already been given the chance to play a number of memorable, offbeat and often frightening genre roles and in this article we will be taking a look at the most prominent examples.
1/ Doctor Doom/ Fantastic Four/ The Incredible Hulk
One of Templeman’s most celebrated roles. Templeman played the Fantastic Fours archnemesis in just 3 episodes of the second season of the Fantastic Four animated series, and two episodes of the Incredible Hulk animated series set within the same canon.
Neither series were a huge success when they first aired and in hindsight neither series is that fondly remembered. In all fairness to the Fantastic Four its second series overall was actually quite good, but it was just that its first series was so awful it never really recovered from it. However despite this Simon Templeman’s performance as Doctor Doom is still very fondly remembered by fans and critics alike to this day.
Templeman’s Doom is often looked on as the saving grace of the 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon by most people. The uploader and maker of this video below, a compilation of Templeman’s Dooms best moments has even said that he hates the 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon, but still feels this has been the best version of the character seen outside of the comic books to date.
Personally I wouldn’t say that Templeman is the only good thing about the second season the Fantastic Four. I think overall it was a good show and had it been allowed to continue it could have actually become the definitive version of the Fantastic Four overall.
I do agree though that Templeman’s Doom was the best thing in the show by far and really at the end of the day he is the only reason that the show is still remembered at all.
Overall I would rank Templeman’s Doom among the top 5 90’s animated comic book villains with the other 4 being Mark Hamill’s Joker, Clancy Brown’s Luthor, David Warner’s Ra’s Al Ghul and Michael Ironside’s Darkseid.
Templeman perfectly captured Doom’s arrogance, snobbishness and best of all his delightfully wicked, cruel sense of humour. Templeman’s grandiose delivery of flowery OTT lines like “Goodbye Fantastic Four time to join the choir invisible“, “I will now suck all the air out of the room and like the Martyr’s of Masada you may watch each other die” or best of all when he refers to Daredevil as a “primrose poppinjay” were all fabulous.
In his first appearance “And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them” Doom captures the Fantastic Four and places them on an island that is about to explode. The foursome survive thanks to Susan Storm creating a forcefield around them, but unfortunately the blast still strips them of their powers. Ben Grimm is at first delighted to be an ordinary Joe again, but Doom soon tracks the former Fantastic Four down and tries to finish them off whilst they are weak.
Though Daredevil intervenes and tries to help, Doom manages to capture all of the four and prepares to kill the heroes. With no other hope Ben turns himself into the Thing again and in revenge for ruining his chance at a normal life, the Thing crushes Doom’s hands and nearly kills him.
This could be the best episode of the series. Its full of great moments and lines, but the definite highlight is when the Thing crushes Dooms hands. I remember this moment very vividly when I was younger. When you’re a child you believe anything can happen and I did genuinely believe that The Thing was going to kill Doom. Obviously watching it back as an adult you know they would never do anything like that, but still even as an adult its quite shocking to watch Ben crush Dooms hands and break every one of his fingers.
I often find it is more effective to have the hero do something horrible to the villain. When the villain does something horrible to the hero you expect it, but when the hero snaps and completely loses it at the villain those are the moments you really don’t expect.
You remember the ninth Doctor trying to shoot the helpless Dalek more than you remember the Daleks million times trying to shoot the Doctor. You remember Robin shooting the Joker in “Batman Beyond Return of the Joker” more than the Jokers dozens of times trying to shoot Batman, and you remember the Thing screaming at Doom that he is going pay whilst slowly crushing his hands.
This scene does what the entire first season didn’t and it treats the characters of Doom and The Thing with the respect they are due. In season 1 both characters were treated as jokes. Doom in particular was a laughable character with a poor design and flat characterisation. Though he was voiced by John Vernon a very talented actor, overall the character was hard to take seriously as the FF’s greatest enemy. In this scene however we see how Doom not only comes closest to killing them, but also how he is the only villain who is able to push the team to the point where one of them was almost willing to commit an act of cold blooded murder.
It also shows us at the same time how The Thing is not a character to be taken lightly as when enraged he is virtually unstoppable, as all of Doom’s tricks and gadgets fail to even slow him down. Templeman plays this scene perfectly showing us how arrogant Doom is at first that he is almost annoyed someone like the Thing, who he considers totally beneath him would even attempt to challenge him.
Later when Doom’s most powerful attacks fail to even slow The Thing down, Templeman is equally superb at injecting a real sense of fear into Doom.
Templeman wisely however doesn’t overdo Doom’s fear as Doom is someone who would be too vain to ever, even in this situation show how scared he was. Doom doesn’t grovel and beg. He barely even screams, but you can still hear him a real panic in his voice when the Thing lunges at him in fury.
This episode also shows how the writers of the second series unlike the writers of the first series actually tried to develop the characters as after this episode Doom becomes obsessed with The Thing more than any other member of the Fantastic Four. Prior to the Thing crushing his hands it was Reed Richards who was his main enemy. The others were just an irrelevance and though he still looks on Richards as his main rival, the one who he actually wishes to hurt the most from this point on is The Thing, as he was the only one of the four who brought Doom to his knees.
In his next appearance we see Doom take great pleasure in watching the Hulk pummel the Thing.
In his final appearance, after Doom has stolen the Silver Surfers cosmic powers, Ben is the first member of the four he goes after before even Richards. Doom even mentions Grimm crushing his hands “feel the limitless power in these very hands which you once nearly crushed” he also tortures Ben horribly by locking him inside his body “feel it Ben feel your bodies metabolism get slower and slower until you become nothing more than a living statue unable to move, unable to speak for the rest of your days, please do keep an eye out for pigeons.”
Its hard to say whether or not “And A Bind Man Shall Lead Them” is the best episode or Doom’s final appearance “Doomsday” is. At the very least Templeman made a very strong debut with this episode.
In his next appearance “Nightmare in Green” Doom is able to trick the Hulk into attacking the Fantastic Four by convincing them that they have stolen his only friend. The Hulk nearly kills the Fantastic Four, until said friend is able to convince him what an asshole Doom really is.
This episode definitely isn’t as strong as the previous one, but its still tremendously enjoyable none the less. As in the comics the Thing doesn’t stand a chance against the Hulk and as I mentioned before its quite nice that they have Doom take such pleasure in watching the Thing be reduced to being so helpless, just like he was against the Thing.
Templeman also gets to deliver possibly his best line in the entire series when he witnesses the apparent violent death of the Thing at the Hulk’s hands and states “such a tragic tableau worthy of Shakespeare, Rabeleis or DOCTOR DOOM!“. Then there is also his memorable casual dismissal of Alicia, Ben’s girlfriends grief over his apparent death “You’ve done well friend destroying the loathsome thing as I knew you would” ” but Hulk make girl cry”, “she’ll get over it“. Overall a great episode that did a nice job of setting up the Hulk/Doom rivalry that would carry on into the later Hulk series.
“Doomsday” is the good Doctors final appearance in the series and fortunately it just might be his best. In this episode Doom steals the Silver Surfers cosmic powers and uses them to try and overthrow the earth. Now the first series had actually adapted this storyline from the comics already, however they decided just to do it again as they felt such a story deserved to be done properly. A reference is still made to Doom stealing the Surfers powers before, showing that they were still trying to keep continuity with the older series at least.
Unlike the previous season 1 episode, which merely had Doom use his cosmic powers to knock a few planes out of the sky; here Doom uses them to first torture Ben, humble the Fantastic Four and completely and utterly thrash all of earth’s greatest heroes including the Avengers and the X-Men whose jet he turns to stone.
He also brings evil gargoyles to life, raises the oceans floors, creates snow storms, blocks out the sun and carves himself into the statue of liberty before telling all of the worlds leaders that they have one week to surrender to him, or he will kill them all.
What’s really great about this episode however is the way it handles Dooms character. The vast majority of depictions of Doom portray him as simply being a psychopath who wants to conquer the world for no other reason other than because he is a psychopath. In the comics however Doom is someone who wishes to rule the world because he believes that he can make it a better place. Ironically Doom wants to help people. In the few what if scenarios where we see Doom does manage to rule the world, he is actually able to make it a better place in some ways.
With his vast intellect he is able to cure diseases modern science can not, he is able eliminate prejudices and inequalities and allow people to live longer, happier lives.
However at the same time he removes people’s basic freedom as he takes absolute control of every aspect of their lives and makes them his slaves. Whilst Doom is a tyrant no matter what, the Fantastic Four’s battle’s against him aren’t just a simple case of good versus evil.
Doom is someone who could actually be a great force of good in the world where it not for his extreme vanity. To date the Simon Templeman interpretation is the only version of the character I have seen that has captured this element of his persona.
When Doom says after acquiring the Surfers powers “ I now posses the power to end hunger, to eliminate crime, to abolish disease to create a perfectly content, perfectly ordered world all under the benevolence of my IRON WILL!” this sums up his character perfectly and Templeman delivers this line with such passion that you almost can’t help but be won over by Doom. Unfortunately this was not only Doom’s last appearance in the series, but also the last episode of the series .
Templeman would go on to reprise his role in just two episodes of the Incredible Hulk animated series. Neither one of these episodes were as strong as his Fantastic Four episodes, but the first one was still lots of fun. It sees Doom capture the Hulk’s cousin Jennifer Walters and use her to force the Hulk to try and assassinate the president of the United States for him.
Unfortunately for Doom, Jennifer is wounded in his attempt to capture her and Banner gives her a blood transfusion which causes Jennifer to change into the She Hulk. Together both She Hulk and the Hulk thrash Doom and foil his plans. Templeman is on top form as ever and gets to deliver some great lines such as telling the Hulk he has a “very left brain personality” or calling the American president ” a posturing corn fed commoner“. However this episode is probably most memorable for She Hulk’s rather sexualized transformation scene
Doom’s next appearance in the second season was sadly his weakest yet. Templeman is just as good as ever, but Doom is reduced to just a boring, one note character and worse his design is terrible too.
For some reason they make his mouth move in sync with his voice. For Templeman’s Doom to end on this note was rather sad, but still overall I think he gave us the best version of the character.
Templeman had been a big comic book fan growing up and said that his favourite superhero had been the Hulk, who he as a scruffy teenager could identify with. Hopefully Templeman will get a chance to play Doctor Doom again. I’d be happy to see him play the role in anything, another animated series, video game etc. More people need to see Templeman in action as Marvels most iconic villain.
John Bates/ Star Trek The Next Generation
There’s not really much to say about this performance it was a relatively minor one though Templeman did make the most of it. This only really deserves a mention as it does mark an appearance in one the most iconic science fiction series, but other than that sadly Templeman was wasted in this role.
Trevor Noseworthy 4/ James Bond JR
A more comical character Trevor is a snobbish, pompous, uptight spoiled brat who was jealous of the main character James Bond JR and constantly sought to humiliate him only for his numerous petty little schemes to backfire rather badly. Though not Templeman’s most memorable character, I think it nevertheless demonstrated his comedic side more than many of the other sinister characters he was to play throughout his long career.
Matthias Pavayne/ Angel
One of Templeman’s most frightening characters, Pavayne appeared in the Angel episode “Hellbound”. In his single episode Pavayne attempted to drag the Vampire Spike’s soul to hell. Pavayne in life had been an evil witch doctor who enjoyed torturing and killing innocent people. After his murder Pavayne’s ghost haunted Wolfram and Hart where he would send the ghosts of other people, after having had his “fun” with them to hell to prevent himself from going. Pavayne spends a lot of the episode hiding in the shadows taunting Spike.
However when Pavayne finally does appear he lives up to the build up. Templeman plays him in an almost detached, indifferent way when he is torturing Spike which just makes him all the more sinister. He has gotten so used to torturing people that he is almost bored of it, but still tortures Spike anyway because he doesn’t know anything else.
Definitely one of the most chilling moments is when Pavayne talks of having his fun with Winifred Burkle which provokes Spike to attack him more than his torture of Spike himself did.
Despite being one of the Buffy franchise’s most ghastly villains, one can still not help but be horrified at Pavayne’s fate. Pavayne is turned back into a human being when Spike pushes him into a machine that Fred had constructed in order to turn Spike back into a human. Pavayne not wanting Spike to escape threatens Fred’s life making Spike choose between the “girl and the flesh“. Pavayne believes that Spike will abandon Fred to save his own skin. I like the fact that Pavayne can’t comprehend the idea of someone caring about anything but themselves.
Spike catches Pavayne by surprise and knocks him into the machine instead rendering him a human and thus vulnerable. Angel subsequently in order to prevent Pavayne from becoming a ghost again locks him in a special container that will keep Pavayne alive, but render him unable to move, speak or interact with the world around him yet remain completely aware.
Ironically this is exactly the same fate Templeman’s Doctor Doom tried to condemn Ben Grimm too. You definitely do not have any sympathy for Pavayne who finally goes to the “hell” he so richly deserves, and that he sent so many others too for centuries. Still you can’t help but be disturbed at what happens to him.
Overall this was a great episode. A frightening and disturbing story that really built up a great atmosphere, but what elevates it to one of the greats is Templeman’s truly bone chilling performance. He brings Pavayne to life superbly and remains one of the shows most memorable guest stars.
Do keep an eye out for pigeons.
The Angel of Death/ Charmed
Ironically this is one of Templeman’s most sympathetic characters.
The Angel of Death is portrayed in Charmed much like Death is in Supernatural. He is neither good nor evil. He merely maintains the natural order. Templeman is able to make the character seem menacing and give him a real air of authority too.
He is not a conflicted character, he has no reservations about anyone’s time being up no matter how unfair it may seem to us, yet at the same time he does not seem a cruel, unfair or unjust character either. He feels more like something that is so above human beings, demons and white lighters that nothing we do matters to him.
In spite of his ruthless, no nonsense attitude, the Angel grows to develop something of a bond with the Charmed ones, simply because they are the only beings he has ever encountered more than once. Simone Templeman appeared in just 3 episodes, though the Angel of Death also appeared in a 4th, where he assumed another appearance as Simon Templeman wasn’t available. Despite this however he remains one of the shows most memorable and popular supporting characters and prior to the Neighbours was probably the live action role that Templeman was most recognised for.
My favourite scene with the Angel is when he calmly tells Prue Halliwell “don’t worry, its not your time. Not yet” which was an eerie foreshadowing of her death later that season.
Lord Nor/ Lois and Clark
Lord Nor who appeared in just two episodes of Lois and Clark was actually the shows version of iconic Superman villain General Zod.
Like Zod he is a Kryptonian who survived the planets destruction and ultimately seeks to lead his people to conquer other races. Its not the most well developed character and to be honest I much prefer his Doctor Doom. Still overall this was an enjoyable episode and a great performance from Templeman as another iconic comic book villain.
Kain/ Legacy of Kain Series
Templeman’s most famous voice work, the Kain series was arguably Templeman’s breakthrough role as a voice actor. Prior to this he had enjoyed some limited success as a voice actor, with his role as Doctor Doom predating this, but this was really the role I think that made him one of the most in demand voice actors in the business, particularly for video games. Kain is an ancient Vampire and the main character in the series which has to date produced 5 games, though in one game “Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver” he served as the main villain. Kain is much more than just a villain or a hero however. He is a very morally grey character, though to be fair everyone in the series is.
The character of Kain was met with universal praise from fans and critics alike and “The Legacy of Kain” video game series overall was a massive commercial success too. Though there have been no new entries released since 2003 the games still remain very popular. Templeman has repeatedly said that he would be perfectly happy to reprise his most iconic role, however he also sadly revealed that there are currently no plans for him to do so.
Loghain Mac Tir/ Dragon Age
One of Templeman’s most high profile voice over roles, Loghain is not surprisingly yet another villain, but he is portrayed as a much more sympathetic and tragic character than a lot of Templeman’s other villainous roles.
Indeed there are some fans who argue that he is not technically a villain either. I personally however would disagree and if anything argue that he is Templeman’s most destructive villain being responsible for the deaths of more people than Doctor Doom and Pavayne combined.
Still Templeman is able to inject a real gravitas into the character in certain moments such as in his relationship with his daughter, the way he faces his death with dignity (if the player chooses to kill him), and his heroic sacrifice (if they choose to spare him) that makes Loghain a very compelling character, who sometimes is actually able to justify his most heinous actions to the players amazement.
Jacob Danik/ Dead Space 3
Yet another villainous video game role, Jacob is a fanatic who believes he is creating a better world and helping humanity ascend to its next level somewhat like Doctor Doom. Templeman’s performance is definitely one of the highlights of the game overall. One of the cool things about this character is that he is modelled on Templeman physically. Like a lot of Templeman’s villains, Jacob is a very grandiose character who is somewhat fond of making big speeches.
Larry Bird/ The Neighbours
Templeman’s most high profile role to date as Larry Bird, father of a group of aliens stranded on earth and a leading character in the science fiction comedy series the Neighbours, is also unlike any other character he has played. Larry is arguably Templeman’s greatest performance as it has allowed him an opportunity to do things he never could do before such as showing off his more comedic side and even his wonderful singing voice. Seriously!
The concept for the Neighbours wasn’t particularly original. The idea of aliens coming to live ordinary lives among us has been done many times before such as in Coneheads and Third Rock From the Sun, but it didn’t matter as the show more than made up for it with its wonderful characters and crazy offbeat humour.
I think part of the reason Larry stands out as possibly Templeman’s best performance was because of the way he really threw himself into the role more than any other. It was his favourite character for many reasons. First of all it finally gave him a chance to do comedy which had been one of the few things he hadn’t done in his long career.
Also Templeman felt he could relate to Larry’s situation as much like Larry, when Templeman an Englishman first moved to America, he too was a stranger in a strange land. Templeman’s enthusiasm for the character of Larry Bird truly shines through in his performance and helps to make the character even more likable.
Sadly the Neighbours was cancelled after just two seasons, however at the very least the show has secured a devoted cult following and with Larry, Templeman managed to create a truly memorable comedic character.
Other genre roles
Templeman has played minor roles in many other sci fi and fantasy franchises including in Final Fantasy 12 as Judge Zargabaath, God of War 3 as Peirithous, Kai Lan the serpent in Jade Empire, as well as characters in video games based upon the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises and Gabriel Roman a major villain in the Uncharted video game franchise.
I do feel Templeman is somewhat underrated, but at the very least his many sci fi and fantasy roles such as Kain and Loghain have given him a very strong and dedicated fanbase.