Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Deeply Personal Reason Kevin Conroy Felt Connected To Batman

Some actors are known as chameleons in the industry, able to seamlessly go from one role to the next and bring them to life without any baggage remaining from the previous. Others are known for the same character for their entire careers, with many of them trying to get away from the role and separate themselves so they can do other things. Sean Connery spent his whole life as James Bond, even if he wanted to kill him, as he famously told The Guardian. But, few others lean into their legacy the way Kevin Conroy did when he became known as the voice of Batman.

While he may have played real people like Ted Kennedy and John Laurens on TV in the 1980s (per his IMDb page), voicing Bruce Wayne/Batman for thirty years defined his career. He first landed the leading role in "Batman: The Animated Series" in 1992 and parlayed that into the entirety of the DC Animated Universe, reprising in "Superman: The Animated Series," "Justice League," "Justice League: Unlimited," and "Batman Beyond." He also portrayed the character in many of DC's animated films like "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm," "Justice League: Doom," and "Batman: Under the Red Hood." His portrayal continued to expand into other mediums as his voice carried the "Arkham" video game series during the last decade, and he finally played a live-action version of Bruce Wayne in the CW's Arrowverse crossover event, "Crisis on Infinite Earths."

Of course, when someone plays a single character over three decades, there is bound to be some connection between the fictional persona and the real-life person behind the mic. For Kevin Conroy, there is a heartbreaking reason he felt so connected with Bruce Wayne.

He connected with the fatherly angle

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter celebrating the 25th anniversary of the animated movie, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm," Conroy sat down and confessed that it was his favorite film in the Dark Knight's big screen history. He talks about a scene in the movie that was his favorite, bringing up deep emotions.

The film follows Batman pursuing a character resembling the grim reaper who is killing some of Gotham's worst criminals. In true Batman style, the Gotham Police believe Batman to be the culprit and chase after him. While this is happening, Wayne's old flame, Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), returns to Gotham. Audiences are treated to a flashback of Bruce Wayne pleading with his parents' graves to release him from the path that he initially took to honor them. He wants a normal life with her. Obviously, that didn't happen as Batman spends his entire life as the Dark Knight, but the scene brought up some raw, unprocessed emotions for the actor.

"When Bruce is pleading with his parents, something came up in me," Conroy confessed. "I had a very problematic relationship with my father. He was a terrible drunk, and I ended up leaving home at 17." He continues, "There were a lot of unresolved emotions there, and something in that graveyard scene brought all that stuff up," the actor reveals. "I don't know why; as an actor, you never know why a certain chord is hit. The key to being an actor is to be open enough to let any chord be hit."

Parental relationships drive much of the DC Universe

Parental relationships have always been a big part of the DC Universe, from parents who were taken while the heroes were young to the dreadful examples they set. If you have read about DC characters for long enough, this isn't news to you. But if you are new to the franchise or simply follow the characters in movies, you may have missed this little trope. While Bruce Wayne's parents meeting their fate with a criminal in an alley being the driving force behind his crusade may be the most famous, there are many other examples of parental strife.

Clark Kent/Superman saw two parental tragedies befall parents. His biological parents died just after sending him away in an escape pod before his home planet of Krypton exploded. In some continuities, his adoptive Earth father, Jonathan Kent, died before he moved to Metropolis. Barry Allen/The Flash is plagued by the murder of his mother and the subsequent conviction of his father. And there are other examples of parents who were present that their children would have likely been better off if they weren't. Slade Wilson/Deathstroke turned his children into smaller, and in some ways more lethal, versions of himself. Rachel Roth/Raven's father is a literal demon, so there is that.

However, Batman's comic line leans heavily on the parental trope. In addition to dealing with his parental tragedy, many of his sidekicks also were orphans when Bruce Wayne took them in. It is clear that parental loss is a significant theme in the world of Batman, and it makes sense that the man who played the character so well for so long would have a similar background. Perhaps the openness for emotion is why Kevin Conroy remains a legend.