He is vengeance, he is the night, and he is Kevin Conroy. There has been one definitive voice for Batman in the last 19 years and it has been Conroy. Since he first put on the cowl in 1992 Conroy’s voice as been synonymous with the Dark Knight. On the eve of yet another adventure, Superman/ Batman Apocalypse, of the caped crusader Conroy sat down with Mania to discuss his career and journeying to Apocalypse.
Question: Is it easy to fall into the character, considering you have played him for the last 19 years?
Kevin Conroy: Yeah. I love to say its not and that it takes enormous preparation (smiles) but it doesn’t. It is pretty easy.
Question: Is there a subtle difference you bring to each Batman? Is this one different than the one in the animated series?
Kevin Conroy: Andrea [Romano, Voice Director] and I always think, what is similar to be consistent. Because writers always bring differences, so that is a difference. It is my job to find the common thread because the audience knows him as well as I know him. The audience is very tuned into this guy and it’s very loyal. If there is a false note, they’ll pick it up like that. I don’t think that I can deviate too far from that core guy without it seeming unauthentic.
Question: You have often referred to Batman as a Shakespearean type character. Which character do you see him as and why?
Kevin Conroy: Well, it is just because I went through Julliard and I worked with the New York Shakespeare Festival and because that was my background. You always bring what you have to any role that you play. I just thought it was very Hamlet and he is. There are certain archetypes even if you are altering the story and that’s the archetype he fits into, the misunderstood hero, living in the dark, can’t get over the death of his parents. There are similar heroes in Greek tragedies. I just brought what I knew.
Question: You’ve played him for nearly twenty years. How does it feel to know you have influenced a generation of fans?
Kevin Conroy: I’m always amazed that people know what I do. I really am. I am amazed that they have a clue who the voice is. I brought my car into a garage recently and they told me that they needed my name and address. I said it was Kevin Conroy and he said that must be a weird name to have. So I said why? Well that’s that guy from animation, that’s the guy that does Batman. Then I said well that’s me. He said bullshit, prove it. So I started doing some voices standing in this guy’s garage. I asked him how did you know? He said everybody knows that. It is a no brainer. I’m still amazed that anybody knows because to me it is so anonymous. It is a privilege to be apart of something like that.
Question: Batman is clearly out of his element when it comes to Dakseid and Apocalypse. How does he cope with such a villain?
Kevin Conroy: Well it’s a team effort and with Superman he defeats him jointly. With Batman, who is the true hero; I just wanted to make that clear (laughs). I’m kidding. Superman has all these great powers but Batman doesn’t. His power is to rely on his wits. You’ll see as the film evolves he pulls the rabbit out of the hat at the end. That is the fun part about playing the character he is MacGyver like. He really has to think of something and create ideas; he can’t rely on super powers.
Question: In your opinion are there any villains that are too big for Batman?
Kevin Conroy: Are you kidding? Absolutely not (laughs).
Question: What was it like to take the character to Apocalypse?
Kevin Conroy: You have to see the movie to understand what Apocalypse is. It is pretty epic. It is a beautiful film and on a very grand scale. I guess what is unique about this one is that Batman needs to learn to work with others and not be such a loner.
Question: Did Superman/ Batman Apocalypse bring any new challenges to the character that you hadn’t encountered before?
Kevin Conroy: Yeah, because I am sharing the stage with a lot of other people. You will see that Superman has a lot of the film. When you don’t have as much presence in the terms of lines you have to make your presence felt each time that you are on. You got to make it really powerful. So that was a challenge. When I’m doing Batman and Robin, a Batman movie, or anything else I have the story to support me which is Batman’s show. This time, I was sharing it largely with Superman. It has more to do with his back story line than mine. You don’t want to take over, be obnoxious, or pushy but you still want to make a statement. So that was a bit of a challenge.
Question: If you had the chance, would you ever want to play Superman in one of the animated films?
Kevin Conroy: Oh sure. What actor is going to say no to a job? One day Tim [Daly, Superman] didn’t come on time and Andrea asked me to fill for him so we could record the other actors. I thought that would be cool (evil laughs). I did him really well and she said how did you that? I said it was just Batman without the balls (evil laughs).
Superman/ Batman Apocalypse will be released on DVD and Blu-ray/ DVD Combo pack on Sept. 28th, 2010.
The hardest part about interviewing Conroy was looking at him and not seeing an animated character (cowl and all) talking to you. His regular voice is so close to that of Batman’s that to close your eyes was to see the Dark Knight right in front of you. Robert, when not interviewing Superheroes, writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.