A Conversation with the New Voice of the Dark Knight
There’s a new actor dawning the cape and cowl of the Batman, and he’s pretty damn amazing – no, we’re not talking about Ben Affleck. Voice acting veteran Roger Craig Smith is the other new Dark Knight in the upcoming video game Batman: Arkham Origins. You may know him as the voice of Captain America from Avengers Assemble, Ezio Auditore from the Assassin’s Creed video games, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
I talked with Smith about his coveted role as Batman, video games, and how he got his start in voice acting. Listen to the full interview on my personal channel.
How’d you get into voiceover work?
My start came from doing stand-up comedy. I did characters and voices in my act, and people would inquire about me doing voiceover – I was asked if I work in cartoons doing voices. People would say, “Hey, who represents you in voice acting?” I began to get asked more and more about doing voiceover work and less about my stand-up comedy. I thought maybe this might be a possible avenue to get some more work. I went out in my hometown area of Orange County; I took an animation class in LA, and happened to meet someone in that class who was scouting for a local talent agency in LA. They took some of the work I made in that class to the agency, and about a week later they signed me on.
Do you remember the first video game you did voice over for?
The first video game I ever voiced was Castle Shikigami 2. It was a top-scrolling shooter game with a weird disconnecting storyline. I got a call at about 3:30pm asking if I was available to do various voices for this project, and I said yes. When I got to the studio, I was the only one there; there was no director – I was in the studio with the audio engineer giving me direction. The script hadn’t been translated properly, so it was a literal direct translation from the Japanese language.
Do you consider yourself a gamer?
Playing video games has been a huge part of my life. I still have all the consoles; the game that’s currently in my PS3 is Last Of Us. I still haven’t finished Revelations from Assassin’s Creed. I’m 38 years old and still passionate about video games, and interested in seeing what games like Last Of Us can do to push this medium further – and then being a part of it, even recognizing the voices of your friends in the business. It’s still a strange feeling playing a video and hearing your own voice.
You’re Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins. Kevin Conroy is considered by some to be the definitive voice of Batman and has been for years, since Batman The Animated Series. Did you look at Kevin Conroy’s performances to somehow influence your take on the character?
No, I did not. I don’t tend to over-prepare for certain things, because inevitably it wouldn’t do me any good. They’re obviously going a different direction with the character; otherwise they would have just gotten Kevin Conroy to do this. In the studio is where you start to develop a character; this is where I rely on the casting director. It’s definitely not lost on me the shoes that I am filling, but at the same time we’re not filling any shoes. I can’t do what Kevin Conroy does, that wasn’t the approach. There’s a point on the horizon as to where our characters would have to end up, where it would make sense to the audience how this version of Batman (since the game is a prequel) would become the previous versions of Batman that we’re familiar with. You’re not trying to pay homage to a prior performance, as much as it is paying homage to the character. That’s all we can inherently do.
You’re the voice of Captain America from Avengers Assemble. How did you find the voice for Captain America, as there isn’t really a definitively established sound for the character?
It boils down to you working with the crew, and they have an idea of the version of the character that they want to portray, and you let them lead you as a voice actor. They have a deeper understanding of the entire universe that you’re about to capture, whereas I have 4 hours to walk into a booth and do what I do and hope that I am delivering a product that they’re satisfied with. You can go anywhere with a character in the world of animation.
PHOTO CREDIT: RICHARD WRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY