Wizard World: Kevin Conroy talks Batman: The Animated Series

Kevin Conroy at Wizard World Chicago. Photo by Danielle Solzman.

Actor Kevin Conroy, best known for his portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman: The Animated Series, spoke to Solzy at the Movies on Sunday.  Conroy’s booth was busy all weekend but the actor fulfilled all of the press interviews on Sunday morning at Wizard World Chicago and it was worth the wait.

Thank you for joining Solzy at the Movies today.  How has Chicago been treating you this weekend?

Kevin Conroy:  Everybody here is amazing.  I love getting out to the comic cons to meet the audience.  When you’re a voiceover artist, you’re in the booth.  You interact with the characters but you never get the feedback from an audience that you do on stage.  I originally trained for the theater in New York.  That was my background.  I need that juice from the crowd.  I love that.  I love playing to the crowd.  This is where I really get to interact with the audience.  That’s why I love coming to the comic cons.

This year saw the passing of Adam West, one of the earliest actors to play Batman.  Did you ever have the chance to meet him?

Kevin Conroy:  Oh, yeah.  Adam played the voice of Gray Ghost in Batman: The Animated Series.  So I worked with Adam and I knew them through the years.  He was kind of an old-school Hollywood actor—a real gentleman, a real class act.  He always showed up on time ready to work.  No bull.  He was just an honorable, wonderful guy.  I loved working with him.  I was shocked when he died so soon.

What was your background with Batman before you signed on for the series?

Kevin Conroy:  My only background was the Adam West series in the 1960s.  I hadn’t even read the comic books.  I had kind of a very strict Irish-Catholic upbringing in parochial schools.  We didn’t have comic books or anything like back then so I was a clean slate when I went into meet with Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Andrea Romano, which I think is why I got it.  I didn’t have any preconceptions.  I had no anticipation of what it should be.  I just used my imagination and improvised on the spot.  That was the first animated role I ever auditioned for and 25 years later, I’m still playing it.  Isn’t that crazy?

Yeah.  Did you ever think that you’re voice as Batman would be so popular?

Kevin Conroy:  No.  I had no idea that it would resonate the way it has with the audience.  But I think the reason that it has is because I was never trying to imitate anyone else because I had no preconceptions.  I came up with an original sound myself.  My whole background was Shakespeare, the Greeks, the Classics—I trained at Julliard.  So I approached him as you would Hamlet, (inaudible) Achilles, or any of the Greek tragic heroes, and I think it resonated with the audience because they saw that they could hear that I wasn’t talking down to the material.  I never viewed it as a cartoon.  I always viewed it him as like a really epic hero.

What was it like working with Mark Hamill?

Kevin Conroy:  Mark and I—he’s like a brother to me.  I know the better he is, the better I’ll be.  He knows the better I am, the better he’ll be.  So we give an awful lot to each other.  There’s a lot of generosity when we work together.  He’s a mad man.  So I love working with mad men because it allows me to be a mad man—you know what I mean—and that just gets you more and more creative.

Would you like to tackle any live-action roles on screen or do you just stick to voice work?

Kevin Conroy:  I only do voice work now.  I did a lot of live-action before.  I had a series called Tour of Duty.  I did a couple of sitcoms.  I did a lot of guest spots in TV movies.  I did a lot of live-action on film when I was younger but as I got older, it really segued into just voice-work.  Okay.  Thanks!

Thank you.

Kevin Conroy:  Sure, take care.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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