Hello there everyone! It’s Chris “the Scoop” Salce here with more San Diego Comic-Con interviews. In this roundtable interview, I sat down with voice actor Roger Craig Smith who voices tons of characters including Captain America, numerous Transformers from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and Batman in Arkham Origins and in the new Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem. In this roundtable, Roger Craig Smith discusses voice acting, what it’s like to voice such an iconic character, Batman: Unlimited and who his favorite Batman actor is.
Q: You voice Batman in ‘Batman: Unlimited’ and Captain America for The Avengers, are you a more of a Marvel fan or DC fan?
Roger Craig Smith: The reality of my industry is that I’m an independent contractor, if you want to make it technical but what I don’t get is that notion, Marvel versus DC. You want to talk about a really exciting time in which to be living when it comes to all things geek and nerd and comics and everything. It’s like we should be celebrating the fact that we have access to ‘unlimited’ [laughs], unlimited fun, unlimited access to so many different forms of entertainment on all sides. And the reality is is the quality that’s being cranked out by entertainment in general right now is getting better and better because the fact that we have so many different ways of getting our entertainment. It’s a really great time that all studios are cranking out top notch stuff. I’m a fan of good stuff.
Q: How is it for you going from ‘Batman: Arkham Origins’ to ‘Batman: Unlimited’?
RCS: Like a ‘wow.’ I remember thinking if Arkham Origins is just one and done, it’s still pretty darn cool. It’s still incredible that I got to do that. And the fact that I got a phone call saying that they were leaning towards me for this, is just cool. The fun ones are always the ones where it’s appropriate for the whole family. When people reach out to me on Twitter and go like ‘Hey, I watched ‘Batman: Unlimited’ with my son and loved it,’ that’s awesome! That’s what we want. We want your son to know Batman.
Chris Salce: Do you have a favorite actor that’s played Batman, whether it’s animated or live-action?
RCS: Christian Bale. If we are talking animated, it’s Kevin Conroy, that’s who I grew up listening to and knowing as that character but in terms of going overall, I’ve actually just always really liked the Christian Bale Batman. There’s always this polarizing argument with his voice and what he chose and I’ve always said no, if Bruce Wayne is Batman, Bruce Wayne went through a very dramatic incident early on in life, and Bruce Wayne is a billionaire playboy, a bit of a brat because he’s been raised by adults who aren’t his family and he’s probably got some issues in life that he’s dealing with, he’s not a voice actor. So Bruce Wayne the normal human being was to try and find a way of masking his voice and he doesn’t try to do what all of us [voice actors] do and try to mess around with different voices, he would sound like what Christian Bale sounded like. And anybody who does that, automatically doesn’t sound like anything distinctive or recognizable. I thought that was brilliant. It makes perfectly good sense. Christian Bale is an unbelievable actor and his portrayal I thought was the right mixer of heart.
Q: After the release of Arkham Origins and there was such a positive response, did you find expectations to be higher for ‘Batman: Unlimited’?
RCS: No. When Troy [Baker] and I got those roles for Joker and Batman in Origins, it was a mixer of illation and trepidation. The fact that it was a part of that series, people are going to be looking at it like don’t mess with our characters, and I get that. Again, I grew up listening to [Mark] Hamill and Kevin [Conroy] doing what they did for these characters. So the notion that anybody would mess with something you love, I get that. The fact that it was received well overall was a blast and I’m thankful for that. Our voice director Amanda White has a lot to do with that. Going to something like Unlimited, this isn’t an origin story of Batman, this isn’t an Arkham story of Batman, this is something that has much more of a broader audience and more family friendly, we have a little more room to play with but even then, there’s only so many places you can take the character before it doesn’t start to feel like Batman. At the end of the day, you’re still voicing Batman so you want to make sure you get it right.
Q: When you first took on the role, did you try out a bunch of different things?
RCS: I never do. I’ve learned I don’t [prepare for a role] because I have a general idea of what I’d like to try but so much of voice over is you walk in, throw it against the wall and sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s up to the directors and the creative people that are involved there to kind of help steer that. It’s a collaborative process. Our first pass for a lot of the Unlimited stuff was too quiet. We realized that Batman was too quiet and a little too reserved. So we went back after the animations and reworked some of it. I work on ‘Regular Show’ a lot and I can look at the script and read it and I just wait until I show up and J.G. Quintel, our director, he’s going to have his idea and he’s going to tell me what he wants right then and there.
Q: What’s your dream project?
RCS: I’ve already done it, that’s the thing. I got to be Batman! I was the voice of Pizza Hut for awhile and I’d walk around and be like ‘I’m the voice of Pizza Hut’ [laughs]. The job is just a blast. Doing a voice project is a victory, getting to do an iconic character, that’s it.
Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem comes out Aug. 4.