Kevin Conroy Says Bruce Wayne Is ‘a Very Bruised Individual’ in Arrowverse’s ‘Crisis’
The actor appears in the Batwoman hour of the event (Monday, December 9, 8/7c), when Kate (Ruby Rose) and Kara (Melissa Benoist) head out to find Bruce Wayne. And it’s Kate we’ll see him relate to the most.
“She touches his heart,” he told TV Insider.
Here, Conroy teases what to expect from his Bruce Wayne.
How did your appearance in “Crisis” come about? How much were you told when you were approached?
Kevin Conroy: I was told nothing. It came out of left field. What happened was the man who’s now the head of all casting for Warner Bros., Tom Burke, I’ve known for over 40 years from New York. He used to work in my agency there. We’re good friends, and we haven’t worked together in over 30 years, but we still know each other.
He was in a meeting with Marc [Guggenheim], and they were talking about casting of this massive multiverse epic, and they talked about who should play Batman. Someone threw out my name, and Marc said, “Does he do on-camera? Is he just a voice actor?” Tom Burke said, “No, he’s a stage actor. I know him from New York. We’re old friends.” Tom is the one who called me and said, “I got a little surprise for you. There’s talk about you doing Bruce Wayne on camera. How would you feel about that?” And I said, “oh my God, that would be phenomenal. That would be fantastic.”
Because I’m not in my 20s anymore, I knew I wasn’t going to be doing young Bruce Wayne, and I’m certainly not in my 80s, so I wasn’t going to be doing Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond. I wasn’t sure what they were thinking of when they approached me because I’m not that old. I had to come to speed on who this Bruce was and where he was in the multiverse. It’s interesting. It’s a version of Bruce that I had never played before.
What can you say about this Bruce?
In Mask of the Phantasm, Bruce falls in love with Andrea Beaumont, and he discovers that’s what life’s really about. He tries to get out of his vow to his parents and he can’t. His fate pulls him back and he realizes he can’t escape his fate, so he’s doomed not to know love.
This Bruce in “Crisis” is the result of 30 years of living that way. It’s 30 years of giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and never having any love to replenish his soul and this is where we find him in this version. He’s a very bruised individual.
Is that where that exoskeleton comes into play? Because he’s given so much of himself?
Yeah, and it’s the result of so many battles. His body has literally fallen apart. In his amazing way, he’s such a MacGyver in terms of creating these incredible tools in his workshop that he has created this amazing suit that supports his body because his body is so broken at that point.
That suit is a great metaphor for what I think of him spiritually and emotionally where he is. He’s given to the point where he can’t even stand up anymore without the help of this mechanical contraption, so think of what he’s like emotionally at that point.
How might he serve as a cautionary tale or a role model to the Arrowverse heroes both as masked heroes and as the people they are behind the masks?
The role model is to never stop giving, to give and give and give and give and give and never stop fighting, never ever give up. The cautionary side of it is to always be able to replenish your soul somehow. Because if you just give and give and give constantly throughout your life and nothing is ever filling your soul again, you’re going to end up empty and bitter and angry.
The cautionary tale is to allow yourself to be loved, which is not an easy thing to do. If you open yourself up to love, you’re also making yourself very vulnerable, open yourself up to pain, to hurt, to being heartbroken. There’s nothing more horrible than having your heartbroken [except] having a life where you never loved or never had the opportunity to have your heart broken. That’s the Bruce we meet in this. He’s someone who’s never had the opportunity.
And how might his interactions with the Arrowverse heroes help him? What does he think of those he meets?
I interact with Kate and Supergirl, and it’s a very emotional interaction. Both actresses are wonderfully generous and were incredible to work with and I made great connections with.
As someone who has voiced Bruce Wayne quite a few times, what surprised you the most about stepping into the role onscreen?
The biggest surprise was realizing that I’ve inhabited the character from within in the comfort of a sound booth, which can be like a cocoon. It’s very liberating to be in a sound booth because you’re in there just with your imagination.
But when you’re on a set, surrounded by dozens and dozens and dozens of crew members and script people, sound people, boom people, makeup people, there’s a crowd and suddenly you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable and you’re inhabiting the character in three dimensions that you only inhabited with your voice before. It’s much harder. It was very challenging. … I’ve done a couple stage plays, but not camera work [in 25 years]. It’d been a long time since I performed in front of people like that. It’s different.
And it was for this giant crossover.
I know. And when they’re doing so much, it’s a massive endeavor with a huge cast and huge crews and huge sets, there’s just no time to take a second or third or fourth take. You’ve got to get it right away. There’s no time to learn on the set. You’ve got to show up and know your character, know your performance, know what you’re going to do, and deliver. I hadn’t done it in 25 years, so it was a little intimidating.
Which character is most similar to Bruce in terms of the way he looks at the world?
I can’t really say without giving away a lot about the character, because he’s in a pretty dark place at this point.
Are there any Easter eggs in your “Crisis” appearance for fans who have followed your career as Batman?
No, but there are Easter eggs to other iterations of Batman or other stories from Batman. Because I noticed that I slightly altered a line during a recording, very slightly, I said “and” instead of “but” or something like that, very minor, and they stopped and the script person came over and said, “No, it has to be exactly like this because this is a reference to this story …” A lot of the lines are very specific references the audience might get a kick out of.
Arrowverse “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Crossover, December 2019 and January 2020, The CW