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Kevin Conroy has portrayed Batman on many occasions, including the animated series and the video game series ” Arkham “.

Kevin Conroy, actor and voice actor best known for portraying Batman in numerous animated films, TV shows and video games over three decades, has died. He was 66 years old.

It is with deep sadness that I send you this news today: Kevin Conroy, the quintessential voice of Batman, and a dear friend to many of us, has passed away. Conroy’s rep confirmed to RollingStone.

Conroy was the voice of Batman in The animated series for four years, from 1992 to 1996, and went on to star in nearly 60 different projects.

Mark Hamill, who played the Joker, Conroy’s on-screen rival, remembers the actor as one of his ” favorite people on the planet “: ” Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He really cared about the people around him. His decency shone through in everything he did. Every time I saw him or talked to him my spirits lifted. »

Kevin was so much more than an actor I had the pleasure of casting and directing. He was a dear friend for over 30 years, whose kindness and generous spirit knew no bounds.added Andrea Romano, director of casting and dialogues. Kevin’s warm heart, deliciously deep laugh, and pure love of life will stay with me forever. »

While the Dark Knight came to dominate Conroy’s professional career, he wasn’t necessarily predestined for such a role to define his career. Born in 1955 and raised mostly in Connecticut in a strict Catholic Irish family, comics were never his thing. But, as a college dropout, he found solace in acting and continued to pursue it, eventually landing a spot (and several starring roles) in his high school’s theater troupe. Conroy was so accomplished that he not only graduated from high school earlier than expected, but also a scholarship to Juilliard, where he enrolled at the age of 17.

After graduating from Juilliard, Conroy spent the late 1970s with the traveling troupe Acting Company, while performing in a few Broadway plays. But as he noted in a 2009 interview, he soon realized that television would be key to making a living as an actor. He turned his work on soap operas into roles on primetime shows. In the 1980s, he was invited in many series, from Matlock at Cheersand held recurring roles in Dynasty and Tour of Duty.

Then, in the early 1990s, Conroy was asked to audition for Batman: The Animated Series, which comes on the heels of Tim Burton’s two hit films in 1989 and 1992. Conroy had done a few commercial voiceovers, but never an animated series. Additionally, his only Batman/Bruce Wayne design was modeled after the series with Adam West in the 1960s, which was completely different from the darker series that the creators of the animated series were trying to develop.

Conroy says he felt both intrigued by the darker elements of Batman’s story and utterly bewildered by the character. As he said to Esquire in 2012 : ” As soon as [les producteurs] described his schizophrenic lifestyle, it bothered me. I thought to myself: wait a minute, this is the Bill Gates of Gotham. It is the most coveted bachelor. Everyone knows who he is. And he puts on a cape, and no one recognizes him? Frankly. »

What helped Conroy land the part (and what made his portrayal so definitive afterwards) was the fairly straightforward choice to use different voices for Batman and Bruce Wayne. At first, his Bruce Wayne sound was a bit too ironic and charming, and the producers asked him to go back and re-record a few episodes so there wasn’t such a big gap with his Batman voice, much more severe. But as he confided to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, “ they liked my idea of ​​two voices; they just wanted it to be more subtle. »

Batman: The Animated Series was a critical success and won three Daytime Emmy Awards, as well as an impressive Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1993. While the series technically only lasted two seasons, it produced an impressive 85 episodes between 1992 and 1995. (A third season was broadcast a few years later on another channel, under the name The New Batman Adventuresand with a slightly different aesthetic to match an accompanying Superman series).

Playing Batman in TV shows, movies, and video games wasn’t the only job Conroy held for the next 30 years, but it was certainly the most consistent and important. At one point, he even parodied himself in Kevin Smith’s 2016 comedy, Yoga Hoses.

Earlier this year, Conroy even ventured into Batman’s original medium, comics, writing an autobiographical issue, Finding Batman, for DC Pride 2022. In this issue, Conroy spoke about his childhood and his difficult experiences as a gay man, both growing up in an extremely religious household and navigating an industry that was still often hostile to the homosexuality. He also talked about how those experiences actually prepared him perfectly for the role that would define his career.

In the last strip of the comic stripConroy writes: My heart was pounding, I felt my face flush, my breathing became deeper, I started to speak and a voice I didn’t recognize came out. It was a throaty, throaty growl that shook my body. It seemed to roar from 30 years of frustration, confusion, denial, love, desire… Yes, I can relate. Yes, it is a field that I know well. I felt Batman rise from deep within me. »

Jon Blisten

Translated by the editor

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