The legacy of the late great Kevin Conroy as Batman, which began on Batman: The Animated Series and continued in a beloved tenure across DC animated films and games, is celebrated in a featurette made for the home release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
“Kevin Conroy: I Am the Night,” which is also available to view on YouTube, digs into how he became the defining voice of Batman above any and all iterations of the character. “He really really embraced aspects of Batman’s character in a way that no other actor that we had listened to had,” Mask of the Phantasm and Animated Series writer Paul Dini shares in the emotional tribute. “And I think that came from the fact that he was not entirely familiar with Batman as a superhero or a pop culture character. He really got into the character from a very Shakespearean angle of somebody who had made sacrifices, who’d lost an awful lot.”
Voice casting agent for the show Andrea Romano adds, “He had this wonderful take on what the Batman voice was ... when I asked him about it, [he explained] ‘this is a Hamlet story’—this is a man whose parents have been killed, seeking vengeance. As he brought this kind of elegant take to Batman and Bruce Wayne [that] set him a cut above.”
The part of Batman was initially hard to cast; it required someone who came at it from a different approach, and Conroy walked in and effortlessly embodied the character without any background in voice acting. In an archive interview, Conroy reminisces, “To be honest I went in like a dumb actor. I really went in on a cold reading... I had no experience with animation.” Continuing in his iconic gruff Batman voice, he says, “I came up with this very dark [voice]”—bet you could hear it without even thinking twice—“[and] I went into this whole other place that no one else had gone to, I guess.”
Watch the full featurette below.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is now out on 4k Ultra HD and Digital.
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