“You’ve destroyed my childhood”: X-Men ‘97 Magneto Voice Actor Had to Overcome His Deepest Fears for the Role After Replacing Late David Hemblen

Magneto’s role was taken over by Matthew Waterson after the passing of David Hemblen in 2020.

x-men ‘97 magneto

X-Men ’97 could secure most of the original cast from X-Men: The Animated Series, who returned to the show with great enthusiasm to essay the roles that they took over two decades ago. However, given that some actors had passed away in the time between the two shows, a slew of parts, including that of Magneto, had to be recast for the sequel series.

Magneto in X-Men ‘97 (Image via Marvel Studios)

Matthew Waterson took over the role of Magneto from David Hemblen, who passed away in 2020. Watterson had some anxieties about essaying the role of Magneto, which he aired with Comicbook.com, discussing what he expected the fan reaction to be, and what he ended up receiving from audiences.

Matthew Waterson wanted to keep the voice unchanged for Magneto

Magneto in a frame from X-Men '97 series (via Disney)

Matthew Waterson was very particular about the fact that he wanted the voice of Magneto to remain unchanged. The idea was that if someone were to jump into X-Men ’97 right after watching the original animated series should not be able to tell the difference. He said, speaking to Comicbook.com: “So what we’re really looking at is trying to make sure that if somebody sits down and watches the show from ’92 to ’97, and they just bowl straight into this one, that it doesn’t sound like a totally different person.”

X-Men ’97 picks up right where the original animated series left off, picking up after Charles Xavier’s departure from Planet Earth. This put the X-Men into the hands of Magneto, who tried to change for the sake of his old friend. The character would go on to genuinely try to help humanity until Bastion declared war on Mutantkind with the attack on Genosha.

However, there was one creative touch that took the pressure off Watterson to sound exactly like David Hemblen, which the actor explained was a small yet crucial part of the character.

Matthew Waterson wanted Magneto to sound slightly different

magneto x-men 97

Matthew Waterson was happy to talk about the creative process that went into crafting Magneto, emphasizing one detail that allowed the actor some leeway when it came to following in on the footsteps of David Hemblen. He said: “There should be some little difference in him, because his whole outlook is kind of shifting, or at least, he’s trying to shift it. So we want the voice to sound like the same person, but maybe that they’re coming at things from a slightly different aspect.”

This took some of the pressure off the actor, who was concerned about how fans would react to the choices he was making for the character. When it comes to shows recasting characters, especially as beloved as Magneto, there is always the chance that the newer voices fail to live up to the standard set by the original.  He said:

“Following somebody like David, who did such a phenomenal job, and is so beloved, there is a stress to that. And there’s always, you have to reconcile yourself to, ‘In an ideal world, a third of the people love what I do.’ A third of the people are like, ‘Eh, it’s fine.’ And only a third of the people are saying, ‘You’ve destroyed my childhood, and I will forever hate you.’ “

It is safe to say that Magneto was well-received by fans, with Old Testament Magneto making his return after escaping from Bastion, despite his efforts to make peace with Charles Xavier’s dream of human-mutant coexistence.

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