05th Jun2018

MCM London 2018 Q&A: Kevin “Batman” Conroy

by Xenia Grounds

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We’ve seen a growth in Comic Con(s) and the size in the UK. Is this a bit of a departure?

Kevin Conroy: Well, this is my first UK con so I don’t have anything to compare it to. It’s intense. It’s more than I thought and it’s great. The fans are wonderful. The Batman fans are in general. They’re very passionate. They care about the actors. They really do, they’re very considerate so I love meeting them. When you do voice work, you never interact with the audience. You send the performance into the eather and you don’t know how it’s received so the only time I get to interact is at these things. It’s why I like it.

How often do you get to listen back to your work?

I’m really bad at watching myself on film or listening to myself. I’m really bad. I think most people are that way. I really have a hard time listening to myself.

What is it like recording for the show compared to the video games?

It’s night and day. Warner Bros has a policy of always having the actors together in a studio which is actually kinda unique. A lot of voiceover studios that like to get completely clean takes as it makes post-production editing easier if each voice is recorded separately. You don’t get the same kind of performances if you don’t have the actors together because actors feed each other and it affects your performance and how you relate to the other characters. Mark Hamill and I feed off each other so much, we work together so well. I know I wouldn’t be as good a Batman if it wasn’t for him. He makes me better so I love being in the booth with the other actors. It’s very fulfilling.

Doing the games, because of the technicality of how they’re built, they have to be separate takes so you have to be isolated for a game. For example, Arkham Knight was the third part of the trilogy. There are 157,000 lines of dialogue in Arkham Knight because depending on how the game is played, all those variations have to be played. I was in a booth alone and had four hours block of time. I was trying to keep the Batman character alive, you’re trying to keep the situation alive in your head. You’re doing line after line after line after line. The director saying ‘Can you do it with a little irony?’ Line after line. By the end of the day, you forget how to speak English. Your mouth is not forming words anymore and you’re still trying to keep the Batman character alive and stay in his world alone in the vacuum. It’s really hard. It’s four hour blocks and you get an hour for lunch and then it’s another four hours. You do that for a week and then you get a few weeks off while they’re writing more stuff and then they bring you in again. Arkham Knight took two years of that to build and of going into those sessions a couple weeks a month. It’s almost like drilling teeth. It’s just no fun building games but then you see the result and you think ‘Oh, my God! Look at how beautiful and how exciting it is. I’m a part of this. I contributed to this. I’m so proud of the performance.’ Especially as I know how hard it is to do that performance. It’s not a joyous process. Recording the shows is a joyous process. It’s fun. It’s why you become an actor. Building games is not why you become an actor but the result is very beautiful.

What’s been your favourite Batman game to voice-over?

A lot of people disagree with me. Everyone looks at things with their own perspective. I look at it with an actor’s perspective and my performance. Arkham Knight and the way it resolved was a real acting challenge for me. I was really proud of how Mark and I worked with each other and how sick that ending was. I mean, it’s a beautiful game but Arkham Asylum was a lot of people’s favourites because it was the first one and it introduced everyone to that world. You saw this amazing rogues gallery of criminals all in this asylum and Batman is trapped in there with them and it was a great idea for a game. From my perspective, Arkham Knight is my favourite. I was really proud of that performance.

What is your opinion on Batman vs Superman and the character of Batman?

*Laughs loudly* There’s no comparison.

Have you seen Justice League? They kind of tone him down as well as Superman.

Yeah, *Stammers* they’ve… yes… let’s face it, Batman is complicated, he’s got issues, he’s dark and he’s got problems and he overcomes them all which is what everyone loves about him but he has no superpowers. Superman is square-jawed, farm fed, he’s just so boring. He’s got no issues. He can see through walls, he can jump over planes, he can fly. What’s the challenge for him? Tim (Daly) and I, we kid each other a lot over this. He’s like ‘Batman is so screwed up.’ And I say ‘Superman is so boring’. You’re right. In the most recent film, they dirtied Superman up a little bit which I think is really smart because he was dull. I feel so lucky to have started with Batman. This is the first animated role I ever auditioned for. I got the brass ring! Everyone asks ‘What other superhero would you want to play?’ Are you kidding? What other superhero is there? I got the best one! I started with the best one! He’s so complicated. There’s so much meat to bite into. It never ends. I was just really lucky.

Throughout your career, you’ve partnered up with so many iconic superhero characters. Other than Batman, what other superhero character has made the biggest impact on you?

It’s a hard question to answer because it’s hard to distinguish the characters from the actors. Tim Daly is just a lot of fun to work him. I have a really good working relationship with him. The same way I do with Mark Hamill so I love working with Tim. He used to do a blog. I don’t know if he still does. The Daly Show. We did an episode and it was so funny. Batman was haunting him around his apartment. I guess it would have to be Superman because him and Batman have a very sibling rivalry kind of relationship. It’s the most defined. I don’t have the same defined relationship with the other characters.

You said at the time that you were conflicted about the dark version of Batman in The Killing Joke. Have you changed your thoughts on that?

It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy with it but I was aware of how controversial it was. I appreciate that a lot of people were disturbed. I wasn’t but I appreciate that people were. Batman has a very broad audience. The first Batman animated series was on prime time on Fox. It was never designed to be a kid’s show but they knew there would be a kid’s audience too. They had to keep a very adult show with very adult storylines and sophisticated artwork but they could never show a child in danger. They had to go by certain standards of practice in the States that you have to respect if you know you’re going to have audiences of under twelve.

The issue I had with The Killing Joke is that it was a great mature story but a lot of the audience is still under twelve and it’s a rough story for people that young. I have a lot of friends who said ‘I love that movie you did but I’m not gonna let my kids see it for ten years’ I didn’t have problems with the story but I understand people who did.

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