Sunday, July 24, 2011


Source: Collider

In Batman: Year One, Ben McKenzie takes on the iconic role of Bruce Wayne/Batman during his first year of “service” to Gotham. While doing press for the film at Comic-Con, I had a chance to participate in a small roundtable with the Southland actor who seemed genuinely grateful for the opportunity to voice the character in the animated adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s classic tale.

During the interview, McKenzie talked about learning the ins and outs of voice acting, filling the iconic shoes of both Batman and Kevin Conroy, shared stories from shooting Southland on-location, and discussed some of the baggage brought on by his tenure on The O.C.. Check out what he had to say after the jump. Batman: Year One will be available on Blu-ray/DVD on October 18th and, after watching the film last night, comes highly recommended from yours truly.

Question: How much did you know about Batman from a character perspective beforehand?

BEN MCKENZIE: I had never heard of this Batman that you speak of (laughs). You know, I’m not an aficionado. I can’t claim to have the kind of devotion that so many fans here have to all sorts of various comics. But, Batman: Year One I was definitely familiar with. I was a big, big fan of all of Frank Miller’s stuff, but particularly Year One. It’s an origin story but it’s very realistic, very gritty, very “noirish.” It inhabits a world that I really like exploring and, as an actor, it all tracts motivationally and, you know, if you like characters, these are actual characters with actual human problems. They don’t have superhuman powers and they are just supremely motivated whether it’s trying to exact justice in an unjust world or controlling themselves while suffering great pain, they’re all real people and that’s fun to play as an actor.

Can you talk a little bit about your approach to the character considering that you’re, in a way, filling two iconic roles: one of Batman and the other of legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy?

MCKENZIE: I’m sure I will fail in that sense. I was asked while walking the press line if I had revisited anyone else who had voiced the character before and I didn’t because I felt as though that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. What I’m supposed to be doing is, I was hired for a reason and I have to trust that Andrea knew what she was doing and my take on it is my take on it. Now, when we get in the booth, we work collaboratively on it to come up with the most compelling Batman/Bruce Wayne that we can. In some sense, perhaps the reason why I was cast is that it is a younger Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s a twenty-something guy who is coming back to Gotham, who is trying to exact justice but is unsure of himself a little bit in terms of how he is going to be able to do this and he gets himself sort of in over his head in certain situations as Batman. So, he’s feeling out this new life. So, yeah, he’s a little younger and less sure of himself.

Did you have any fun with the role at home, just practicing in front of a mirror?

MCKENZIE: Yeah, my dog got a lot of (in character) “I’m Batman” and obviously he didn’t really know what the hell I was talking about (laughs). So, there’s a lot of talking to your dog and there’s a lot of practicing in the mirror. Somebody mentioned to me that the line “I’m Batman” is probably the best pick-up line you could have. Plus, Comic-Con is probably the best place to have that best pick-up line so I’ve got to try that out later (laughs). In all seriousness, you do find yourself going over and over the lines. You’re really trying to find the through-line throughout what is going on with him psychologically and what is forcing him to take on such drastic action to do something that almost none of the rest of us would ever do. We may dream of doing it, we probably all fantasize about, you know, taking out that neighbor that we hate or that family member, hopefully not close family member, that we hate or some part of the world that we don’t like and that is wrong, that is actually immoral, not for personal petty reasons but because there is actually a flaw in the world and he is the one who is bold enough to do it. So, that requires a certain amount of psychosis given that he’s psychotically focused on justice and so he acts out the way that he does.

Visit Collider to read the complete interview.


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