KEVIN CONROY TALKS B:TAS
Am vengeance, I am The night, I am talking to voice acting icon Kevin Conroy lasy year at SDCC 2018.. Kevin has done a few other things, but he is mostly known for his definitive portrayal of Batman on B:TAS, and throughout the sprawling DCAU. He is most likely the voice you hear when you read Batman or anything, including this article, if you are me. Conroy leaps out of the Batmobile on his way to the Batman:The Animated Series (B:TAS) Blu ray release celebration to chat with Retro, Cool, Nerd for a few minutes.
“I’m so proud to have been a part of it for so long. It’s such an amazing character to be a part of. He’s so resonant in the culture. People love him. He’s the only superhero who has no superpowers. All he has is his wits. And his passion to do good. And that really resonates with people. I love being a part of the character”
B:TAS first aired in 1992, slightly after Tim Burton's Batman had swept the nation. We asked how did Burton’s vision and Keaton’s performance affect Kevin’s portrayal. Kevin responds,
“ I was not even aware of the Tim Burton Batman movie, which came out about a year before we did ours. I had not seen it at all. So I wasn't colored by it at all. The only input I had in it at all was the Adam West show, from the 60s and when I told Bruce Timm that at the audition he said ‘No, NO, NO, that’s not what we are doing!’ he said ‘We love him, we love that show, But that’s not what we are doing.’ He brought me up to speed on the legend of the dark knight, the whole Legacy of Batman. Bruce kind of educated me on that.”
Other notables had played Batman previously- Olan Soule, and Adam West, however Kevin was the first voice actor to use 2 separate voices for Batman, and Bruce Wayne. He tells us why he thinks this layer necessary,
“I said to Bruce Timm, because I had no preconceived images.
He the richest guy in gotham. The most handsomest. The most eligible bachelor. He owns half the city. He puts on a mask and no one knows it's him?
Seriously? Is this a joke? Couldn’t we make it more, convincing disguise? Maybe I could use a slightly different voice, maybe I could do it closer to my own voice.”
27 years is a pretty long time to voice the same character. The stories have become slightly darker but Conroy's dependable characterization and voice remains a touchstone for generations of Bat-Fans. We ask Kevin how has his performance changed over the years?
“The audience knows the character so well that if I wasn’t to be true to the character, if I was to phone it in, they’d know in a heartbeat. They would nail me. The challenge to me over the years in all these different venues, he's been to be consistent. To be fresh. I think having been a theater actor I’m used to doing a show 8 times a week, you have to learn to make it fresh each night. Each night the audience comes in, is the first night they’ve seen it. They paid 100 bucks for that seat, they want a show. So you always have to make it new. The challenge for me has been to keep him rooted.”
It is truly a mesmerizing experience to talk face to face with Kevin Conroy. When he speaks his baritone tentacles creep down my ear holes and wrap themselves around my optical nerves, squeezing until- I think I actually see Batman. We also talked about why his favorite stories are the Bruce Wayne centric Perchance to Dream (S1: EP30) and Mask of the Phantasm, how he knew nothing about the Batman character when he auditioned, and how Leslie Howard’s The Scarlet Pimpernel influenced his Performance. Watch the entire video here, I challenge you to not get hypnotized by that haunting voice live. I know I did.