Jay Lycurgo is ready to represent mixed kids everywhere as Tim Drake in HBO Max’s Titans.
The 23-year-old British actor, who is himself a fanboy of comic books and pop culture, never saw someone who looked like him on television or in film. Prior to his casting, Lycurgo tweeted about needing more people of color as superheroes because these kids need more role models. After he was cast as Tim Drake, the biracial actor recalled seeing a mixed race kid wearing a Robin suit and feeling proud about it.
“When I got cast as Tim Drake, [there was this guy] wearing the Robin suit and he said, ‘people used to laugh at me when I wore the suit, but now I can wear it with pride,’ recalled Lycurgo to The Nerds of Color over a Zoom call this morning. “I just went ‘well, there you go, man.’ I mean it just is so humbling and like, you know, it’s amazing that I can just have people look at someone and go ‘oh, that’s me. I can be that [person] as well.’ That’s amazing. There’s a great [and] amazing feeling.”
When we are first introduced to Tim, he is reading a book about Batman next to his delivery bike when he is interrogated by police officers. Instead of cowering away from the police, Tim gives them a relaxed smile and offers them free dumplings from his family’s Chinese restaurant. We then learn that Tim is of Black and Asian ancestry. Lycurgo feels really proud to be able to play both worlds of his background, which normally he is given one or the other.
“I’m just mixed race,” said Lycurgo. “I’m always going to be mixed race. That’s not going to change. But, it’s once people are allowing it to be more in the fold, and to be in bigger roles, it’s amazing that now people are being given the chance to show what I can do in a superhero role. It brings a different flavor. This is so great.”
Of course, just because Lycurgo looks the part, doesn’t mean the actor hasn’t done his research. There is a reason why Tim has been so heavily praised this season of Titans. He understands what Tim brings to the table compared to the other Robins and the responsibility in playing this iconic role.
“I loved how many people love Tim Drake and like me understanding why they did.” explained Lycurgo. “I think Tim has this purity and it’s really genuine.”
Both Dick and Jason became Robin through their trauma — with the tragic death of Dick’s parents to Jason rebelling and living on the streets. Tim comes from a more humble and family-oriented background. But, don’t discount Tim’s drive to become a hero. Lycurgo says there’s more to Tim than his healthy and stable family life.
“I just love that he’s just such a genius,” said Lycurgo. “They’ve given this kid that [is] 16 [who] knows everything. I’m willing to find out anything. At a young age, we’re so scared to be that person that takes the leadership role, but Tim’s ready to do that.”
As for Tim’s fighting ability, Lycurgo explains that fighting can be taught because Tim has the passion. “That’s what pushes him to learn more,” he said. “He’s just a curious individual. And, because of that, he learns more and more all the time that he [needs] training — and that means mentally and physically.”
We last left Tim Drake near-death at the hands of Scarecrow, as Tim was trying to prove himself useful to the Titans. The Titans find him and struggle to keep him alive. Lycurgo wouldn’t reveal the details of the scene or the aftermath, but reassures the audience that everything will work out.
“First, recovery,” said Lycurgo. “I think the main thing with Tim is that he needs to go back to the drawing board. I think that’s what it is. It’s not literally. It’s not like he gets shot and then it goes all back to the door and whatnot. He’s been hit by reality.”
Tim believed that being a hero would be easy. He would just save the day like Batman and Robin would. “But, it’s not [like that],” Lycurgo explained. “What are you going to do when there’s a gun? There’s a handgun right in front of you and you’re about to get shot? What do you do? Nightwing [knows] what to do, but Tim doesn’t have that training yet. So, it’s about now being faced with reality. And, if he really wants to do that and move forward.”
DC’s Titans airs Thursdays on HBO Max.
[PART TWO OF OUR CONVERSATION WITH JAY LYCURGO CONTINUES NEXT WEEK!]