At San Diego Comic-Con, I had the chance to sit down with Troy Baker during the roundtable interviews for Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, in which Baker voices the Joker. Now some of you may not know that Troy Baker has voiced both the Joker and Batman on different projects. In this roundtable interview, Troy Baker talks Mark Hamill’s influence, voicing two iconic characters and his experiences with working on hit video games.
Chris “The Scoop” Salce: Being the voice of both Batman and the Joker, what is it like? How do you go about that?
Troy Baker: I’m losing my mind every time, literally. I don’t know what I did. I work hard and I’m a super nerd and I really do love these franchises and all of these characters, and not to say that anybody else doesn’t but that’s what I want to focus on. I want to make something that is going to make me laugh or that I’m going to be proud of. Some kids may have grown up saying ‘I want to be a firefighter or an astronaut,’ that’s awesome, let me tell you who I want to be…I am going to be Batman. You say that as a nine year old and flash forward thirty years and you get to do that and not only that but one of the characters, one of the actors that literally made you want to do this, you get to do that. Mark [Hamill] will always be my Joker and he was such a strong influence on me, obviously but when Roger [Craig Smith] and I got to do it on [Arkham] Origins, I fortunately got to point what they already established in the Arkham universe. If I had to do what [John] DiMaggio did in ‘Under the Red Hood’ which was like give us a new joker, I would have collapsed under the pressure. He’s just a far more creative person than me. I’m very fortunate and very honored that I got to point to this guy that you actually love and is the definitive Joker, for most of us. And the greatest compliment that I can get is when people don’t know and are like ‘Is that Troy or is that Mark?’ There’s this richness to him and the reason why you buy into that voice is because he loves that character and can teach you so much about that character, both in his performance and just his knowledge.
Q: Do you have a preference in playing Batman or the Joker?
Baker: No. It sounds kind of pretentious but you need the dark and you need the light. In photography, one of the most dramatic things you can have are shadows and you can’t have those without those two things being in contention with each other, with the light and the dark meeting with one another in this one place and casting a shadow and otherwise you’re flat. You don’t always want to be in the light and you don’t always want to be in the dark, sometimes you kind of want to be right in the middle. The best part of being an actor is you literally get to become somebody else. I don’t take this too seriously. My preference is that I would never have to choose between the two.
Chris: If someone where to ask you to do the Joker voice and then immediately ask you to do the Batman voice, would that be something that’s easy for you or do you have to get into a certain mindset?
Baker: No. Honestly, to tell you a trick, it’s easy…because we wouldn’t do the character if we couldn’t do the voice. So we always play to our strengths because we want to look like amazing talented people [laughs] but we are always playing to our strengths. We all have our go to voices and we can flip-flop back and forth but what’s cool is when it comes down to the work, there’s no interpretation. It’s me pulling something that I already got locked down in the chamber, ready to fire out whenever people do that and they pull my string. But if it’s like a work situation, I’ve had that before. I remember doing ‘Beyond Gotham’ and then I was doing Arkham Origins at the same time and that’s literally in the same building, and it was like okay you gotta be able to move your brain around a bit more and make the decisions. So it’s more in the work.
Q: How was it working on ‘Uncharted’?
Baker: Dude…there’s so many layers to that experience for me that hit on literally every level, as an actor, as a fan, as a nerd, as a friend. ‘Uncharted’ was such a watershed moment for me as a gamer and an actor. I’ve been with games for a long time and there have been performances and stories and characters that have moved me before but there was something unique to it. You look at something like ‘The Last of Us’ that broke all the molds and garnered a lot of attention just from a narrative standpoint and character standpoint, overall experience. It’s like playing the Joker or Batman, it feels more like a reward for really, really hard work and it makes me work harder just so that I can have more rewards like that. Just the chance to be in something like that.
You can catch Troy Baker’s latest work as the Joker in Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhemwhich is out now.