Kevin Conroy is Batman legend. Though most would not notice him on the street, Conroy’s voice is instantly recognizable as Bruce Wayne / Batman from Batman: The Animated Series, animated films such as Mask of the Phantasm, and the Arkham series of video games. For many, Conroy is the best Batman out there. I consider him the best balance of Bruce Wayne and Batman, at least, as some actors nail one side of the coin but falter on the other.
Conroy had his own panel at Denver Comic Con this past weekend, and LRM asked him if he preferred working on the show, movies, or video games. And boy, did Conroy become animated himself, giving the crowd the Bat-Voice and more in his extensive answer:
“What a question! You have no idea! When you’re in a booth with other actors, like I said, you’re in a playground. It is so much fun. Acting is as much reacting as it is acting. You’re as good as what you get. So, there is a lot of give and take, a lot of interaction, a lot of fun that happens with the other actors. So doing an episode of the show takes about two hours to record. There is no pre-rehearsal, you go in and it is a cold reading with the other actors. You each do your homework, but you record the day you get there. So, you don’t know what the other people are going to necessarily do until you hear it. And that’s going to effect your performance. So, it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of discovery. There’s a lot of interaction.
Doing a game? The game recordings have to be completely clean because of the way the games are played, the way they’re built in a computer. Depending on how you play the game, it’s going to go different ways, different directions, different lines will come up. Different avenues for the character. So each soundtrack has to be completely separate. So you record it alone. You’re alone in a booth. And you’re alone in a booth for four hours at a time, and you’re given an hour for lunch, and it’s another four hours. So it’s an eight hour day, alone, saying line… after line… after line, after line… after line…
So it’s like, you know, “Get out of the Batcave!”
“Great, Kevin, love it, can you do it with a little irony?”
“Get out of the Batcave.”
“Ok, keep the irony, can we get a smile?”
“Get out of the Batcave?”
I’m not kidding. For eight hours!
“I’ll get you Joker.”
“A little louder.”
“I’ll get you Joker!”
“Ok, A little softer.”
“I’ll get you joker.”
“Can we have another take?”
“I’ll get you joker.”
And you try to keep the Batman character alive. You’re trying to stay in the voice, to keep your voice going. And then all these different types of reads… ALONE, with no one feeding you, for eight hours. You do that for five days, for a week. They usually do a week at a time. Then the writers go off and do more finagling and stuff, then you come back and do another week, forty hours of this. So, by the end of the week… [intentionally mumbles]… you forget how to speak English! You not only don’t know the Batman voice anymore, but you can’t speak English! You just come out of there and you’re grunting and making noises.
So you have to entirely feed yourself. It’s all self-motivated. It’s all self-created.”
After giving more examples of direction he would receive, Conroy added:
“You’re trying to keep the reality of the drama going, with the character voice going, with the different versions of it going, alone!
Let me tell you a scecret, Arkham Knight, the last game, had 37,000 lines recorded. And I had 36,000. No, I don’t know if that’s true. 37,000 lines, that’s like War and Peace!”
So, does Conroy enjoy the experience or not?
“It’s no fun!”
You gotta’ love Conroy for not only giving the crowd some excellent voice acting while responding, but sticking with the Arkham video game franchise for three games, doing something that I’m sure paid well, but that he didn’t enjoy as much as doing The Animated Series or various movies. That’s my Batman, everyone!