Amon Warmann chats with Batman: The Animated Series & Batman and Harley Quinn star Loren Lester…
More than two decades after it first aired, Batman: The Animated Series is still thought of as one of the best iterations of the Dark Knight in any medium. With its inspired art deco style, impeccable voice cast, and perfectly pitched tone, it’s little wonder that the series continues to endure.
As such, there’s considerable hype surrounding DC’s latest animated movie, Batman and Harley Quinn. In addition to marking a return to the much-liked style of the original series, it reunites voice actors Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester as Batman and Nightwing for the first time since 1998.
We spoke to Lester about what it was like to return to the role, what he’d like to explore in a Nightwing animated series, and much more.
Batman and Harley Quinn marks the first time you’ve voiced Dick Grayson since 1998. What was it like getting back in the saddle for this movie?
It was as if no time had passed when I went into the recording session. Seeing Kevin again and Bruce Timm of course… it was just like no time had passed. That’s what’s exciting about this movie – it really picks up right where the show left off as if no time has passed either.
I’ve been doing a lot of these Comic-Cons for the last year, and people come up and say “Oh my gosh, you have the same voice! How come they’re not doing the show again?”, and I say “I honestly don’t know”. And then sure enough, they’re doing it again and here we are. Kevin [Conroy] and I both have the same voice and we were both eager to recreate this.
I know when you did the show you recorded it as a group, but these days that doesn’t happen very often and voice work is done solo…
Usually that happens with a lot of interactive games. That’s where you’re by yourself. But usually with animated projects they can easily find two or three people whose schedules mesh and they can get together. But there have been times when I’ve had to record alone.
When we did the show we used to do it like a radio play, and all of the actors were there. That was very exciting because we could really play off one another. Most of us had theatre backgrounds so it was like being in a play together.
In the animated series, you were directed by the great Andrea Romano. For this movie, Wes Gleason was the voice director. In what ways are they similar and how do they differ?
I’ve worked with Andrea for many years on other shows as well and she is the gold standard of voice directors. Wes is a huge fan of the show and a huge fan of what we did all those years ago so he was completely in sync with us from day one. He definitely picked up the mantle.
This film definitely takes more risk in terms of language and content compared to the animated show…
There was a lot of restriction on the show to the point where nobody could die. The violence was at a minimum. There was no sexual content whatsoever. It was very censored. But just as the pendulum swung that way now it swings back this way, and I think people will enjoy the fact that we have the freedom to do things we weren’t able to do before. When I first read the script a lot of the laughs are laughs that you would never be able to do in the 1990’s on FOX TV.
As an artist you want to keep experimenting to keep it fresh, but at the same time broader audiences like to see characters they recognise. What’s your perspective on that?
I think what’s great about the movie is that it’s exactly as they remember the look of the show, the feel of the show, the characters… it’s really a throwback. The fact that we are able to do things that are a little more PG-13… I don’t think that takes away from it at all. The characters are written and performed as people remember them.
Is there any other Robin or Nightwing story that you’d like to see told in animated form in future?
There’s a comic book series called Nightfall, and it deals with Dick Grayson’s transition from Nightwing to Batman, and I would love to see that. My dream would be to have a Nightwing series and they were actually talking about doing that years ago when we were doing the show and nothing happened. I don’t know why. I would love to see that happen as a series because when you’re doing a series you get a chance to really explore characters. That’s what I loved about the last version of our show [The New Batman Adventures]. When we got to that point the characters really began evolving, as I became Nightwing and they had that whole dramatic tension between Nightwing and Batman. I was really loving where the show was going and then unfortunately it ended. So I think if they ever picked up there and continued that, I think that would be a great series.
Many thanks to Loren Lester for taking the time for this interview.
Batman and Harley Quinn will play in cinemas for one night only on August 14th before being released on digital download on August 15th and then on DVD & Blu-Ray on August 28th.