» Blog Archive Kevin Conroy returns to voice Batman in Public Enemies -
The Big Kahuna Comic Book News, Movies

Kevin Conroy returns to seminal role as the definitive voice of Batman in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Batman: The Animated Series star reunites with Tim Daly and Clancy
Brown brings in all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie for
distribution Sept. 29

While 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.

As 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: Public Enemies.

Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation will present the
all-new Superman/Batman: Public Enemies 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 on Sept.

In 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.

Conroy’s 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 nation.

So 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 …

You’ve been doing this role for nearly 19 years. Are there still
challenges to doing the voice of Batman?

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. For Batman, I think the biggest challenge is the timber
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.

Recording 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.

What do Tim Daly and Clancy Brown bring to their respective roles?

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.

Clancy 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.

What can people expect to find different about Superman/Batman: Public
Enemies than most crossover stories?

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.

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 him greater?

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. I played 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 unkind. Years 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. Clancy brings that joy to Luthor and the
more ease he does it with, the more frightening it becomes. And he’s
really good at that.

So what does Kevin Conroy bring to Batman?

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. I think 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. And 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.

Is there still a cool factor for you to be the voice of Batman?

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.

Were you a comics reader as a kid?

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. I was 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 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. (he laughs)

Do you have a collection of Batman paraphernalia?

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?” They 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 cell?” 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 cells – and now I’ve got about 60 or 70 cells.
It’s 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)

What makes Batman the greatest super hero?

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.

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email


Enter your email address: