Delany, who stars in the CBS drama "Presidio Med," had an early call the day before on that series but made time to reprise her role as Lois Lane, which began six years ago on "Superman."
"This is just fun. I'd do this for free," she says. "We can do it anywhere. When I was shooting in Vancouver last year, I did it from there. I was a Lois Lane freak when I was a kid. It was like a dream come true. And there's something so liberating about not being seen. You take more risks, I think, with your voice. You don't worry about making a fool of yourself."
No one is going to retire to a Malibu estate on the strength of voice work alone, but it could easily help furnish one. Screen Actors Guild rates call for actors to receive at least $655 per recording session for one or two voices, which doubles for providing four or five. Actors -- who can negotiate for fees above the guild minimums -- also receive residuals for the episodes, which can repeat over and over.
Some of the actors who take part are comic-book fans. Others welcome the chance to play characters their children will savor. "The only reason JoBeth Williams decided to work with us was because her kids said, 'Mommy, you've got to do it! That would be the coolest thing in the world!' " Timm says.
From 'F.B.I.' to butler
For Clancy Brown, who has played menacing roles in films such as "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Starship Troopers," the opportunity to do cartoons arose around the time his first child was born, giving him an incentive -- despite the amount of production that takes place in Canada and other foreign locales -- to stay closer to home.
Brown auditioned for the role of Superman, which in the earlier version went to Tim Daly. Instead, he was offered his nemesis, Lex Luthor. "I thought, 'Geez, it's like the story of my life. Can't I be the good guy once?' " he says. (Brown's roster of voices also includes Mr. Krabs on the children's hit "SpongeBob SquarePants" -- a role, he says, that immediately put his daughter "with the in-crowd" at school.)
Zimbalist, the square-jawed star of "The F.B.I." in the 1960s and '70s, gave voice to Alfred the Butler in "Batman" and drove in from his home in Solvang to play him again.
"I always loved radio, but I never got very far in it," says the actor, who is 84. "This is just a pleasure. You get to work with wonderful people, and working with Andrea is a dream. I always tell her she plays all the parts better than anybody else. She reads them better than the actors."
Timm has softened his stance toward voice actors, saying he marvels at the range exhibited by someone like Phil LaMarr, an alumnus of the Groundlings and Second City who portrays the 14-year-old lead on the WB's "Static Shock" in addition to providing the sullen baritone of Green Lantern.
"It's one of the few jobs where you get to be bipolar," notes LaMarr, wearing a baseball cap and sweats. As for the higher-profile actors on the show, he says, "Bruce sort of made it OK to do cartoons."
Certainly, animation is more forgiving than live-action films and television -- a medium in which actors accustomed to fretting over wrinkle lines and weight don't have to worry about getting older, much less how they look or what they wear.
Besides, who wouldn't want to be a superhero, especially when you don't have to squeeze into those uncomfortable tights?
"I get two chances a week to save the world," Lumbly says with a laugh, alluding to his spy role on "Alias." "Two's enough."