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Twisted Metal Has Its Own 'Darth Vader' - With A Sickening Twist

Contains spoilers for "Twisted Metal" Season 1, Episode 2

The "Twisted Metal" games have a revolving door cast of characters, as befits the car combat franchise's nature. However, one character has remained a constant throughout the series, and he's so iconic that there was no making Peacock's "Twisted Metal" show without him. Needles Kane, aka Sweet Tooth, is a massive, murderous man who drives a weaponized ice cream van and tends to wear a distinctive horror clown mask. His head is also on fire because that sort of thing just happens in the world of "Twisted Metal." 

Since Sweet Tooth is effectively the series mascot, his live-action version is destined to get plenty of attention from the fans. Unfortunately, as a larger-than-life character, he's also very difficult to get right. Despite this, the show found a way to adapt the character in a way that conveys both his hulking size and unstable personality: By giving him the Darth Vader treatment of a hulking physical performer and a talented voice actor. With the combined forces of Will Arnett and pro wrestler Samoa Joe, "Twisted Metal" has created a live-action Sweet Tooth for the ages ... and the fact that both Joe and Arnett approach the job with a manic edge brings a fittingly sickening twist to the iconic killer clown.

Unhinged voice acting combines with unrelenting physical performance to create an unforgettable killer clown

Before Hayden Christensen took over the role, Darth Vader was famously portrayed by the combined talents of David Prowse and James Earl Jones, who lent his booming voice to the iconic villain. Though "Twisted Metal" takes a similar approach, neither Samoa Joe nor Will Arnett approaches the role with Darth Vader-style ominous minimalism. On the contrary, their Sweet Tooth is carefully crafted to be ... a lot. Arnett has a field day using his voice across the register, throwing in some guttural growls he seemingly borrowed from the animal kingdom in order to fully convey Sweet Tooth's highly unpredictable, volatile personality. The performance is simultaneously funny and sinister, and so good that it needs a physical performance to match. Fortunately, Samoa Joe delivers. 

"It was almost like commedia dell'arte watching him work because his face was covered, and it was all body gestures and stuff like that," star Anthony Mackie praised the wrestler's performance in an interview with Rolling Stone. "It was really, really impressive, the work he was able to do and the way he brought this character to life." Sweet Tooth is a highly physical character, and Mackie also confirmed that Joe definitely brought the goods on that front. "In Las Vegas after the apocalypse, and just seeing him with that backdrop with that reality was really jarring," Mackie admitted. "And, as much as he was acting, I don't know if he was just beating me up because I'm in 'The Avengers'. I don't know what it was, but he was pulling no punches, flinging me around like a bag of potatoes. It was fun, though! I can say I got beat up by Samoa Joe and I lived to tell about it."

Arnett's unpredictable, manic voice acting and Samoa Joe's dedicated physical performance combine to bring Sweet Tooth to murderous life, just like Prowse and Jones combined their talents to create Darth Vader. The end results have their differences, but they're both very, very effective.