STILL BATS AF­TER ALL THESE YEARS

Kevin Conroy, the voice of Bat­man, on his 25th an­niver­sary

Empire (UK) - - RE.VIEW - WORDS CHRIS HE­WITT

KEVIN CONROY RE­CENTLY had an un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence whilst out walk­ing in New York. “A cop car put its siren on as I was crossing the street,” re­calls the ac­tor. “I thought, ‘Oh man, am I go­ing to get a jay­walk­ing ticket?’ Then a cop leans out the win­dow and goes, ‘We want a pic­ture of Bat­man! Come on, Bat­man!’ Did I do the voice?” He breaks into a boom­ing bari­tone. “‘Please, of­fi­cer, don’t give me a ticket!’”

Conroy has been do­ing that voice for 25 years, play­ing Bruce Wayne and his vig­i­lante al­ter-ego first in Bat­man: The An­i­mated Se­ries, then through nu­mer­ous fol­low-up shows, video games, and the odd fea­ture-length movie such as the new Bat­man And Har­ley Quinn. He’s played the role for longer than the tenures of Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Ge­orge Clooney, Chris­tian Bale and Ben Af­fleck com­bined and, for many, his silky smooth ver­sion is the de­fin­i­tive take on the Caped Cru­sader. Yet un­til re­cently, most peo­ple couldn’t have picked him out of a Bat­line-up. “But be­cause of the in­ter­net, ev­ery­body now recog­nises ev­ery­body,” he says. “Faces are no longer anony­mous.”

With that face, long and hand­some, Conroy could cer­tainly have played the live-ac­tion Bat. But it was his voice that was his pass­port, even though he freely ad­mits that when he showed up for the au­di­tion in 1992, he was vir­tu­ally clue­less about the Caped Cru­sader. “I was a New York stage ac­tor,” he ex­plains. “I only knew the Adam West show. ‘Zap! Pow! Bam!’ Bruce Timm [co-cre­ator of The An­i­mated Se­ries] told me that Bat­man’s par­ents were mur­dered in front of him. That changed ev­ery­thing. I ap­proached it as a clas­sic, tragic char­ac­ter and went to the deep­est, dark­est place I could find in my voice. I’ve con­tin­ued to ap­proach it that way.”

There’s no sense that Conroy is ready to hang up his Bat­mi­cro­phone just yet, even as he en­ters his early six­ties, nor that Bat­man

And Har­ley Quinn is the cul­mi­na­tion of his work with Timm. The new movie teams a re­luc­tant Bats with Har­ley, a char­ac­ter who has be­come a mighty oak af­ter her hum­ble de­but in The An­i­mated Se­ries, most re­cently with her film-steal­ing ap­pear­ance in Sui­cide

Squad. “They re­ally bal­ance each other well,” says Conroy of the pair­ing which, cru­cially, still sees Bat­man come first in the ti­tle. “Oh, keep the billing,” he laughs. “For now at least…”

Nightwing (Loren Lester) joins Har­ley Quinn (Melissa Rauch) and Bat­man (Kevin Conroy). Be­low: Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richard­son) and Poi­son Ivy (Paget Brewster).

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