For 17 years Kevin Conroy has leant his intimidating, gravely voice to the animated Batman. In fact, many would argue the Conroy is the Father of the Batman whisper. Many actors have tried and failed to re-create this raspy overtone (George Clooney went with smarmy and look how well that went). Now Conroy's voice is returning in the animated anthology Batman: Gotham Knight, on DVD July 8. After the jump Conroy explains how he got his Bat back after all this time, why he originally wasn't interested in voicing the hero and why there's a little Batman in everyone. Plus new pictures.
In a interview released by Warner Bros., Kevin Conroy shared a few details for fans on being the voice of Batman for so many years. The studio almost put someone else on the voice of young Batman until Conroy reminded him that he could be all forms of Bat-Age and Bat-Maturity.
On Bringing Back The Voice
Getting back into the Batman voice was not hard - after so many years, it's so familiar to me now that it's like putting on an old coat. As you live with a character over the years, you fill out the skin. You don't even realize you're doing it. Sometimes they ask during a recording session, "What sound would Batman make here?" or "What would he say here" and they trust me to do that. They know I've been living with him for so long, I know what he'd say, and how he'd react.
On Getting the Part
To tell the truth, after reading the original script, I really went to audition for the character voices - like Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Like most actors, I really love to be challenged, and I thought they'd be more interesting and really push me. And then Bruce (Timm) and Andrea (Romano) said they wanted to hear me do Batman. The only exposure I'd had was the campy Adam West live-action series, and they said that wasn't what they wanted. So I put myself into a very dark place in my voice, and my voice got deeper and darker and huskier, and it came out very mysterious. I really just took a stab at what I thought the voice would be, and then I saw Bruce and Andrea and Paul (Dini) running around the booth, so I knew I either was very good or very bad. That's how it started — just me in a sound booth, them on the other side of the glass describing the character, and then the voice just came out of my imagination. And it worked. So initially I was much more interested in doing the character voices, but luckily they talked me into Batman.
Young Bruce Wayne gets into a scuffle in "Batman Gotham Knight."
On Conjuring Up His Character
There's an emotional place I go to - Bruce (Timm) says he see it in me in the booth. It's much more a psychology than just producing the sound. Batman is very complex. The Bruce Wayne voice is the real put-on. This is a guy who saw his parents murdered in front of him, and nobody would be normal and together after that. He feels like a freak inside. So to do the voice, you have to take on all that drama.
That's why everyone relates to Batman - because everyone feels like a freak inside. Everyone has ghosts that they don't want to show anyone else. All of us feel like we have that inside us. For me, that's one of the most interesting aspects of the character - that a super hero would ultimately be based on that inner-freak that we all feel that we have.