Kevin Conroy Talks About Voicing Batman Over the Years and ‘The Killing Joke’ at MegaCon 2016
Our very own Tara Lynne was the moderator for Kevin Conroy’s panel at MegaCon 2016. Check out some of the highlights from the panel where he talked about his experiences as a voice actor and being Batman.
When asked about the upcoming animated movie The Killing Joke, Kevin Conroy was very excited about the project and working with his costars. “We have a blast together […] He really physicalizes Joker. And before you know it looks like he’s going to devour the microphone. He takes over the room. I love working with him,” he said about Mark Hamill, who voices the Joker. “The artwork [for the film] harkens back to Batman: The Animated Series.”
He also talked about how unexpected it was that he landed the role of voicing Batman when he started his acting career. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans […] The first role I auditioned for in animation was Batman.” Due to Kevin’s classical training he related the character to Hamlet, whom he called “a classic tragic hero throughout history” and was basically hired on the spot.
While answering a question about why Batman still resonated with the audience through the years, Kevin mentioned Joseph Campbell, a philosopher who studied mythology. According to Kevin, the reason behind Batman’s longevity was due to the fact that all civilizations “have told stories using the same stories” as if there were a “collective consciousness” behind them all. “He’s the arc of Heroism that’s been told so many times.” He also talked about people coming up to him and thanking him for how Batman helped them make their lives better.
He spoke about the difference between voice recording for animation and games. “In cartoons, movies, etc. you record together […] It is so much fun.” While in games there are numerous variables and everything has to be recorded. In Arkham Knight, there were 37000 lines. It took two years to record, and they recorded everyone separately.
On being asked if he felt a certain ownership to the character of Batman, and others he has played, he replied that he loved seeing what other actors do with the roles.
He also mentioned Mask of the Phantasm as having his favorite Batman moments. “My favorite Batman moment is in Mask of the Phantasm […] He’s at his parent’s grave and he’s pleading with them to release him from his sacred vow to avenge their deaths because he’s finally fallen in love and he wants to lead a normal life. He wants to come out of the cave and yet he can’t. It is such a beautiful moment.”
The audience also asked him about him taking on the role of Captain Sunshine. Kevin recalls that he only knew they needed his Batman voice for the role but when he started reading the script he realized that it was something quite unexpected. “Oh my God! This is a gay Batman. It is everyone’s parody of Batman and Dick Grayson.” He had to tell himself to take the job numerous times. “I can’t do this job. Warner Brothers will kill me if I do this job.” But being an actor he decided to do it in the end.
An audience member asked him about how it felt that with other amazing actors (who played the role) he was still considered the best Batman. “If it’s true then I’m very honored. But I think it has to do with the character. He is such a complicated, dark guy that the audience just relates to him […] It makes sense that the voice that gives that human element to the cartoon would be the one that resonates most with the audience.”
He also talked about how, being an actor, he needed to be more vulnerable, but to survive the entertainment industry he had to form thick skin. In order to prep for emotional scenes, as the Batman franchise grew darker, he had to be ready to tap into his emotions. “It’s about getting in touch with your emotions. Your genuine emotions and giving that to the character. The better the actor you are, the more vulnerable you are.”
Let us know what you thought of Kevin Conroy’s panel at MegaCon 2016! Are you excited for The Killing Joke? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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