Conroy: His Voice IS The Night, Part 2
Talking about his role in Superman/Batman:
Dark Knight with a sunny smile...
We just ran a conversation we had with Conroy at Comic-Con
about Arkham Asylum, and here comes this from Gary Miereanu
-- an interview covering Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
the debate rages among fans over who might be the best live-action
actor to play Batman, there is no such controversy when
it comes to the voice of The Dark Knight – Kevin Conroy
stands unchallenged for that title.
the voice behind the landmark series Batman: The Animated
Series, Conroy set a standard that has cast a wide shadow
over any other actor attempting to fill the role for nearly
two decades. Conroy once again dons the animated cowl for
the September 29 Warner Home Video release of Superman/Batman:
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, United States President
Lex Luthor uses the oncoming trajectory of a Kryptonite
asteroid to frame Superman and declare a $1 billion bounty
on the heads of the Man of Steel and his “partner
in crime,” Batman. Heroes and villains alike launch
a relentless pursuit of Superman and Batman, who must unite
– and recruit help – to stave off the action-packed
onslaught, stop the asteroid, and uncover Luthor’s
devious plot to take command of far more than North America.
acting career has covered a lengthy gamut of performances
on stage and screen, including soap operas and television
series like Dynasty and Tour of Duty. His first audition
for an animated voiceover role was in 1991 when he arrived
at Warner Bros. hoping to land some of the character roles
on an upcoming series, and walked out as the title character
of Batman: The Animated Series. As they say, the rest is
a grand and glorious history for Batman fans across the
pleased with his return to the role is Conroy that he made
his first appearance in six years at Comic-Con International
this past summer to promote Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,
and the crowd greeted their beloved Batman voice with multiple
standing ovations. For those fans that couldn’t hear
Conroy’s words in person, here’s the recap of
a chat with the actor during that weekend …
MIEREANU: You’ve been doing this
role for nearly 19 years. Are there still challenges to
doing the voice of Batman?
there any challenges to being Batman?
CONROY: I guess the biggest challenge to doing
any kind of animation voice work is that you only have your
voice to tell the story. And you want to keep it real and
you don't want to get cartoony, especially now because the
audiences are much more sophisticated. Anything over the
top is going to read over the top. So it's a very fine line
that people walk.
Batman, I think the biggest challenge is the timbre of the
voice that I established early on. I just kind of improvised
it and it stuck. It's very deep in my register – very
throaty – and whenever it gets emotional, it’s
a difficult sound to create with a lot of volume technically
without blowing your chords out. So there's all kinds of
tricks you learn along the way of how to produce a sound,
how to produce it without injuring yourself, and how to
juice it enough. It's a delicate, funny balancing act.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was actually easy because
of the cast that Andrea (Romano) put together. Tim (Daly)
and Clancy (Brown) – all of us have worked together
a lot over the years, and there's a real shorthand when
you're dealing with people who have done a lot of it and
know what they're doing. Which is really a pleasure. Andrea
doesn't have to say very much for me to know what she wants.
MIEREANU: What do Tim Daly and Clancy
Brown bring to their respective roles?
CONROY: Tim brings to Superman that strong voice,
but there's also a real humanity to Tim as an actor and
that really comes through. So there’s strength but
there's a great sensitivity, and that's unique about his
take on Superman.
is great at being crazy. He's a very talented actor. He's
got that great sound, that resonate voice. And yet when
you've got that kind of power under you, you can afford
to be very casual with it. It makes his sinister quality
so much more frightening when this guy with this voice is
just being very debonair.
MIEREANU: What can people expect to find
different about Superman/Batman: Public Enemies than most
CONROY: There's definitely more humor in this because
of the relationship they've created between Superman and
Batman. It was really fun doing it with Tim because it almost
became like a buddy cop kind of thing. There are not a lot
of people that Batman can fool around with like that –
that can take it and can dish it back. So I really enjoyed
that aspect of the script.
MIEREANU: Batman and Superman have all
these amazing foes. And yet Lex Luthor has no super powers.
What makes Lex a great villain, and how does Clancy make
CONROY: Actors always want to play the villain
– they’re a lot more fun. Think about it. The
hero is just about being a good guy and, in life, we all
want to be good guys. But when you're playing at something
other than yourself, it's fun to do what is taboo.
Edgar in a production of King Lear that John Houseman directed
for Lincoln Center. Edgar is the good son in Lear and it's
probably the hardest role in the play. I thought I did a
pretty good job at it – although one critic was particularly
later, I did a production at the San Diego Shakespeare Festival
of Lear and I played Edmond, who is the force of evil throughout
the play. The plot really revolves around Edmond's machinations.
It was so much more fun to play Edmond because of the joy
he took out of being evil. This guy is planning the downfall
of his family, and laughing about it, and delighting in
it. And it was a real blast to me. A couple years earlier
I was busting my back for Houseman, doing Edgar every night,
working so hard on a role that the audience doesn't care
about. They want to cheer Edmond and how evil he is because
it's so much fun.
brings that joy to Luthor and the more ease he does it with,
the more frightening it becomes. And he's really good at
MIEREANU: So what does Kevin Conroy bring
CONROY: I guess I am basically most comfortable
when I'm alone. As a kid, I was very much a loner. I love
long distance running and long distance biking. A director
once pointed out that those are all very isolated exercises
you do for hours at a time.
Batman taps into that quality of me, because my initial
take on the character was that Batman wasn't the performance.
Bruce Wayne was the performance. Batman is where he's most
comfortable. The cave is where he's most comfortable. And
he puts on this persona of incredible sophistication to
be able to deal with the world just like I think everybody
puts on a mask to deal with the world. Everyone has a private
self and a public self. With him, it's taken to a real extreme.
I think I related to that aspect of him. I am basically
a pretty shy person – I think a lot of actors are.
That's why they get into acting – because it's easier
to be free emotionally when you're pretending to be someone
else than to be free emotionally when you have to be yourself.
And I think Bruce has the same problem.
MIEREANU: Is there still a cool factor
for you to be the voice of Batman?
CONROY: Oh, yeah. It’s something that I'm
reminded of a lot from people who enjoy the show. That's
a very cool thing. I don't ever take for granted how cool
a job it is and how lucky I am to have landed in it. It
was the first animation job I ever auditioned for –
and it just happened to all come together so well. But it
was just pure chance.
MIEREANU: Were you a comics reader as
CONROY: I had an interesting childhood in that
my parents were older. I was a late child, and they were
children of immigrants. So the connection of the family
to Ireland was very close. I have an Irish passport –
I went to school there a bit when I was younger. So my parents
were very old world, and they grew up during the Depression.
They were kind of like my friends' grandparents –
my family kind of skipped a generation that way.
put in very conservative Catholic schools – the nuns
had habits to the ground, and the boys and the girls were
separated. It was very old school. And comic books just
weren't allowed. It just wasn't part of my world. I didn’t
read them (not) because I didn't like them –
I didn't even know about them. (he laughs). Comic
books weren’t part of the planet that I was raised
on. Of course, once I heard about them, I liked them a lot.
MIEREANU: Do you have a collection of
CONROY: I'm no dumb actor (he laughs).
Do you remember the Warner Brother stores? One of the most
lucrative parts of those stores was the galleries –
they ran them like real art galleries. They'd have people
who did the voices come in and do so signings, and when
they asked me, I said, “Do I get some kind of compensation?”
rare awkward moment for the Bat.
were trying to get us on the cheap, but I thought there
had to be something to make it worth my while. I said “Why
don't you give me a cel?” And they said “Oh,
that's a great idea.” So I said, “Why don't
we make it two?” (he laughs) And so I started
doing appearances at the stores and my compensation was
two cels – and now I've got about 60 or 70 cels.
very cool. I have a great apartment in New York and they're
all on this wall. Everyone who walks into that apartment
turns into a 12-year-old boy. They all walk in and say,
“Oh. Wow. Cool.” And it is. (he laughs)
MIEREANU: What makes Batman the greatest
Oh, that's easy. The thing that makes Batman unique as a
super hero is that he has no super powers, and the darkness
of his personal story. Everyone relates to having a personal
dark story – his is just much more dramatic than most
people's. Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one's
journey is easy. It's how they handle it that makes people
unique. Batman took adversity and turned it into something
enormously powerful and positive without any superpowers.
Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to
release the all-new Superman/Batman: Public Enemies on September
29, 2009 in a Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def edition, a special edition
2-disc DVD, and a single disc DVD. Warner Home Video will
distribute the action-packed movie, which will also be available
OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download
that same day.
Public Enemies is based on the popular Jeph Loeb/Ed McGuinness
comic series/graphic novel. Animation legend Bruce Timm
(Superman Doomsday, Green Lantern) is executive producer.
Michael Goguen (Justice League: The New Frontier) is supervising
producer. Sam Liu (The Batman) is directing a script written
by Stan Berkowitz (Justice League: The New Frontier).
more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s
official website at www.SupermanBatmanDVD.com.