He is the night. He is vengeance. He is Batman.
Kevin Conroy has voiced the Dark Knight for the past 27 years, most famously and iconically on Batman: The Animated Series and in the Arkham Asylum games. Considered by many to be the definitive portrayal of Batman, Conroy has spoken life into the character at many different stages of his caped life, from the beginning of his superhero career (Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm) to at the end of it, on both Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited. However, through all of that, though, he hasn’t actually physically appeared on-screen as Bruce Wayne in a live-action property — until now.
This December, the Justice League actor guest-stars as Bruce Wayne from the future in the Arrowverse’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. While fighting to save the multiverse from imminent destruction, Batwoman (Ruby Rose) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) cross paths with Bruce in the Batwoman installment (part two) of the five-hour saga; however, as the Kingdom Come-esque exoskeleton Conroy is wearing in a recent crossover still suggests, this grizzled version of Bruce isn’t the same as the 80-year-old incarnation Conroy voiced on Batman Beyond.
“In this, I explore a lot of [the] dark corners of Bruce Wayne,” Conroy tells EW. “But they’re different than the ones I explored on Batman Beyond.”
“He is stupendous,” says crossover executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “He is Bruce Wayne. [It’s] just a lot of fun to see this actor who we all mainly know from voice work being on camera. It was really exciting.”
Conroy’s appearance in “Crisis” is the result of a dream. “One of the things that was always on my bucket list is that I wanted to see old Bruce Wayne,” says Guggenheim. “We talked about a variety of different casting possibilities, but [Legends of Tomorrow showrunner] Keto Shimizu, who is a huge animated Batman fan, pointed out that Kevin is the right age. We reached out to Kevin and he couldn’t have been more lovely and more game for it.”
For his part, Conroy “jumped at” the offer when the producers approached him because he has “always wanted to do it on camera,” says the actor. “There’s a real loyalty among the [Batman: The Animated Series] fanbase and an interest in seeing me do it on-camera as well. So I think they thought this was an opportunity to take advantage of that interest.”
To Conroy’s amazement, though, playing Bruce Wayne ended up being more challenging than he expected.
“It threw me at first,” says Conroy. “I never approached this character from that physicalized aspect. I always just inhabited him with my voice. When you do that in a recording studio, it’s a very intimate experience and you’re sort of living in your own imagination. You do it with your eyes clothes and you’re in this other world, and you have Mark Hamill feeding you all the energy you [need], and the other actors (because we always recorded together in the booths). To actually be on the set, in the physical world, and to be walking as the character and inhabiting the character in three dimensions, it was a real transition for me. It did take a while to get used to, I have to admit. I was surprised because I know the character so well.”
Thankfully, his main scene partners, Ruby Rose and Melissa Benoist, helped him overcome this initial obstacle. “Everybody was so generous to work with. I can’t emphasize how enough how welcoming everyone was, especially Ruby. She is so open and giving. I just fell into her eyes at one point and we just connected on camera. It was wonderful,” he says, adding that it was “amazing” to work with Benoist, too. “I felt like I was working with old friends I’d known for years. There was just such trust there that I could open up to them on camera.”
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off with Supergirl on Sunday, Dec. 8, followed by Batwoman on Monday, Dec. 9, and The Flash on Tuesday, Dec. 10. After the winter hiatus, the crossover will resume Tuesday, Jan. 14, with Arrow at 8 p.m., and conclude with Legends of Tomorrow at 9 p.m.
For expert analysis, interviews, and scene breakdowns, watch EW’s official “Crisis” after-show, Crisis: Aftermath, hosted by Kevin Smith and airing 9 p.m., immediately after Supergirl (Dec. 8) and The Flash (Dec. 10) on The CW.
To read more from the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, featuring The Rise of Skywalker and other untold stories from the Star Wars universe on the cover, pick up the new issue at Barnes & Noble on Friday — or buy your choice of covers now featuring stars of the prequels, original trilogy, or current saga. (The issue will be on newsstands starting Nov. 28.) Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.