If you ever hear a booming voice on the New York Subway saying, ‘I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!’, then be sure to grab your phone and head towards it, because chances are that a fan has recognised Kevin Conroy and has asked him to do the voice that many of us will instantly remember from our childhood.
Conroy, who voiced the masked vigilante in Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and in the Batman: Arkham game series, says that people often stop him on the streets and ask him for a photo or a few lines of dialogue.
“I don’t know if it’s just because of the Internet or what, but people know my face all the time now,” he said. “I live in New York and I get stopped on the street all the time. When I first started doing this 30 years ago, that had never happened and it was a really anonymous job.”
He recalled a memorable moment when he was crossing Broadway one day and a police car turned on its siren to stop him. Ticket for jaywalking? Nope, the officers just wanted a photo with Batman.
A love for Comic Cons
City Times caught up with Kevin Conroy during his first ever visit to the Middle East for Middle East Film & Comic Con 2022 in Abu Dhabi, and asked him what it was like to voice a beloved superhero over all these years.
“You know, it’s funny when you do a voice, you put your heart and soul into the performance. You’re breathing life into an animated character, and you do it all in a booth, right? Then you send that performance out into the ether. But, you never get the feedback from the audience that you do on a stage. I am a stage actor, and I’m used to that juice that you get on stage – the constant feedback – which is so exciting in theatre,” he explained.
The first time Conroy received the kind of feedback that he highlighted with Batman, was at Comic Cons. “That’s the place you get to interact with the audience and you get that wonderful dialogue going with fans, so I love coming to Comic Cons for that reason. This is my first time in the Middle East and the amazing thing here is that everybody has been so gracious and thoughtful.”
Asked if there is a difference when voicing Batman in a TV series or a video game, Conroy said that there is a “huge difference” depending on the venue and format. When voicing for the animated series, or movies, Warner Brothers prefers to get all the actors in a room together.
“So, you’re all in a big recording studio and you have the other actors to feed off of,” he explained. “So, when (Star Wars actor) Mark Hamill and I do the Joker and Batman scenes, we’re actually in the room together and he gives me such a crazy level of energy to work off on. Acting is as much about reacting as it is about acting, and depending on what you’re getting from the other actor, it really influences what your performance will be.”
A full episode of a show can be recorded in around two hours in this case, but recording lines for a video game is a stark contrast.
The videogame game
“When you’re doing games, because of the way they’re built, they have to be completely clean,” Conroy said. “The recordings have to be completely independent, so you can’t work with other actors. So, you’re in the booth trying to imagine the situation you’re character is in, and you’re imagining what the other actors are doing. Then you have to give three or four different takes of each line separately, and it is so much harder. It’s something you really have to learn by doing; no one can prepare you for it.”
“But then you see the end result like in the games such as Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, and they are such incredibly beautiful games and I’m very proud of that performance,” he added. “But, the actual process of getting there? It is much more challenging.”
Who is the one person he would voice act with for the rest of his life if he had to?
“Mark Hamill (who voices Joker on Batman: The Animated Series and other DC projects). No question about it,” Conroy stated without missing a beat. “Mark is a generous, creative, and giving actor. He gives so much in the booth and you can see that, and you can hear it in his performance. He takes genuine joy in watching other actors do a good job.”
“There’s just such a sense of camaraderie when we work together, and we just get such joy from each other that Andrea Romano, our director, sometimes comes in and she says – okay, I’m going to separate you guys for a few minutes because you’ve become 12-year olds and you’re misbehaving, so I am going to have to stop you and separate you – and then we have to take five minutes because we just have so much fun together. So, that being said, I would gladly work with Mark forever,” Conroy revealed.