What does it really take to play Batman?

Words: James Luxford
Photo: Flickr/spadge6868  

With Batman returning to the big screen in The Lego Batman Movie, we ask Kevin Conroy, the brooding voice of Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham games to tell us about his experiences playing the Caped Crusader 

THE RED BULLETIN: How does one go about becoming Batman?

KEVIN CONROY: I auditioned for the role in 1991. I was in LA, working on a series, and my voiceover agent suggested I audition for a new animated Batman. My only exposure to the character had been the ’60s series with Adam West, but they said they were going back to the film-noir origins. My naïveté helped, as I had no preconceptions. I was able to improvise and place myself inside the painful world of childhood loss, and I found myself using this deep, husky voice. It seemed to rise up from a dark place and just felt appropriate. 

But your Dark Knight has his lighter moments, and The Lego Batman Movie is a comedy. How do you make him fun?

Attitude. You must remain true to the character, but give him a tweak. When I first came up with different voices for Bruce and Batman, it was to make his disguise more convincing, but then Bruce ended up being more playful. A lot of irony in the voice.

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Have you ever been recognised in public?

Not early on. I mean, I have no idea who voiced the cartoons of my childhood, but with the internet, everyone is just a click away. Recently, I was crossing Broadway with my dog when a police officer flashed his lights. I thought, “What have I done now?” Then he piped out of his car, “You’re Kevin Conroy. This is Batman! How about a picture?” I love how people respond to the character. He’s so beloved. I feel so honoured.

© YouTube // TheAnimator727

So, could your Batman beat the others in a fight?

Seriously? My Batman is the baddest badass Batman. But it’s interesting to see how each actor brings something unique. My favourite Joker, of course, is [co-star] Mark Hamill, but Heath Ledger was wonderfully crazy in a different way. 

Lego Batman isn’t the only character to have been given a new lease of life…

Deadpool (2016)

© YouTube // 20th Century Fox

Ryan Reynolds’ first portrayal of ‘the Merc With A Mouth’ – in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine – was a disaster, but fan power plus leaked test footage ensured a solo movie got the green light. The R-rated result broke box-office records.

Better Call Saul (2015)

© YouTube // Netflix UK & Ireland

The origin story of Breaking Bad’s fast-talking lawyer has become a solid hit. Originally conceived as a half-hour sitcom – it’s now an hour – the series averages double the viewers of its predecessor. 

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Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) 

© YouTube // bmoviereviews

Yes, George Lucas actually gave the furry ‘stars’ of Return Of The Jedi their own vehicle with a made-for-TV movie in which they helped two kids find their parents. Despite being panned, it was given a sequel.

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02 2017 The Red Bulletin

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