david j. moore chats with Andrea Romano, voice director on Batman: Assault on Arkham, at the San Diego Comic-Con…
Voice director Andrea Romano has been involved with Warner Bros. animation department for several decades, voice directing as far back as the seminal program Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995), working alongside voice actors like Mark Hamill who played The Joker for many years and Kevin Conroy, who has continued voicing Batman and Bruce Wayne up to the present day. Here Romano discusses her involvement with the Batman animated franchise and shares some information on the new DC/Warner feature Batman: Assault on Arkham, which follows in the footsteps of a line of creatively and financially successful Batman animated films to premier on home video.
david j. moore: You’ve been the voice director for various Batman projects for decades now. There’ve been some new people; there have been some familiar faces. Someone like Kevin Conroy you’ve been working with since the 90’s … do you two have an understanding of what you want from each other, an unspoken thing?
Andrea Romano: In fact, that’s absolutely true. Before I can even give the directions out, Kevin’s like, “I got it. I’m there.” Most of the time I just let him do what he does. He knows the character so well. When you think, Who’s the voice of Batman? Everyone always says, “Kevin Conroy,” despite the fact that I’ve cast 17 different actors to do Batman over the years.
djm: Do you have to take a different approach to every different Batman project you work on in terms of how to direct the actors?
AR: The material determines what happens – what thematically happens. That dictates what goes on. In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Batman is not the main character. He’s not. There are many more characters that are involved. He’s the touchstone character in it. It’s working through the script, finding out what we need from the actors.
djm: How do you fill the void of not having Mark Hamill anymore as The Joker? He voiced The Joker for decades.
AR: It broke my heart. He never told me that he wasn’t going to do it any more. I heard about it by reading it online. Troy Baker, who does the voice for The Joker in Assault on Arkham does a very good job. A very good impression of Mark’s Joker. The voice, for the audience, will not have a big change for them. But it’s not Mark, and it makes me sad. The first question when I’m given a job is, “Can I use all the actors I used before?” Sometimes the actors I would like to use are not available. We have a limited window. If I can’t get the actor in time, I have to find somebody else to do it. There are some projects where we use the classics, if you will, and then there’re new voices in there. Some actors I’ve worked with for years.
djm: Assault on Arkham is based on the Batman: Arkham Origins, a popular videogame. In that game, Roger Craig Smith voiced a younger Batman. Did you have to tell Kevin Conroy to scale his voice back a bit to play Batman in Assault?
AR: I didn’t. And I didn’t work on the game. That made me sad because I would have like to, but it wasn’t presented to me. I have such a strong parental feeling towards these characters. I don’t play video games myself, so I couldn’t tell you what the big differences were. I didn’t really reference the game, but I did get some notes on what voices were used so that we could keep some consistency, but other than that it was just what I do.
djm: Is there anybody you’d like to do a voice on a future Batman film?
AR: I would like to use Alex Trebek. I’m a huge Jeopardy fan. I met him at the Emmy’s one time, and I asked him if he’d be interested. He said, “Absolutely! I can do different voices!” So I told him we’d find something for him. He’s my new favorite to work with.
djm: You’ve worked in the Gotham City world all these years. How has your understanding of that world changed throughout the years? Do you still look at the characters like you did years ago?
AR: I look at them a little bit better. I didn’t read comic books as a girl. I had to learn on the job. When there was a project, I would read the comics as background material. I think I understand the characters better now than I ever have before. I hope I continue to learn about them.
Many thanks to Andrea Romano for taking the time for this interview.
Batman: Assault on Arkham is set for release on August 12th and sees Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) leading a voice cast that also includes Neal McDonough (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Deadshot, Troy Baker (The Last of Us) as Joker, Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Riddler, CCH Pounder (The Shield) as Amanda Waller, John DiMaggio (Batman: Under the Red Hood) as King Shark, Jennifer Hale (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) as Killer Frost, Hynden Walch (The Batman) as Harley Quinn, Greg Ellis (24) as Captain Boomerang, and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as Black Spider. Jay Oliva (Justice League: War) and Ethan Spaulding (Son of Batman) direct from a script by Heath Corson (Justice League: War). Watch the first trailer here.
david j. moore is a contributing writer to Fangoria, FilmFax, Lunchmeat and VideoScope Magazines. His book WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES was published this year.