NYCC 13: Batman: Arkham Origins – Roger Craig Smith Interview
"It's surreal. I see this dork when I look in the mirror [points to himself], and I go, 'You're not Batman.'" Except in this case, that's exactly who the humble, diminutive man sitting next to us is. Though not quite as imposing a physical presence as Batman would be were he real, actor Roger Craig Smith has the right timbre and tone to bring the Dark Knight to life in Batman: Arkham Origins.
We sat down with Roger Craig Smith at New York Comic Con to discuss his work on Batman: Arkham Origins, and what it was like to don the virtual cape and cowl.
How did you prepare for the role of Batman in Arkham Origins?
"I didn't want to over-prepare. If I did that, I knew I'd probably end up making bad decisions for the character, for the franchise, for the director... So, there wasn't a tremendous amount of preparation on my part, other than refreshing myself with [Arkham] Asylum and [Arkham] City, and remembering the universe.
"[Creative Director] Eric Holmes gave me a copy of Batman: Year One as a launch point for the tonal element we wanted to have in this version of the game. Truth be told, I've got to go in and be a sort of a lump of clay for the director. If I try to know everything about the game, universe and storyline, I might not be doing the character, myself or the people behind the glass a service because I'm focused on those things as opposed to the director saying, 'This is what we need from you right now.'"
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill had a strong relationship you could hear come through in their performances as Batman and the Joker. Do you feel you and Troy Baker have that same kind of relationship?
"Without spoiling anything, it's not as defined. This is a less refined Batman, and he's being introduced to a lot of these characters for the first time. So when it comes to that kind of banter, I won't say whether or not that's there. I think you could safely assume it's going to show 'Oh, that's what this is all about,' or, 'Oh, so that's why he's so obsessed with Batman.'"
Which was your favorite Bat-villain scene to do, and which was your favorite Bat-villain?
"Troy [Baker] and I are trying to be so protective of this game until it comes out because we want everyone to experience it fresh. I don't even remember half of the stuff I did because we did so many takes and versions of things, you never know what it's going to be when it's in its polished form. All of 'em were a blast.
"Everybody loves the bad guy. Everybody wants to be Darth [Vader]. I mean, Luke Skywalker is great, no offense to Mark Hamill, but the bad guys are always more exciting. The villains have a little more creative room, and what Troy does in this performance is so deliciously, bone-chillingly evil, but you still love him. It's the Joker. It's the same with Heath Ledger's performance. You just went, 'My God, is that ever crazy?' So, I pick Troy."
Some comic fans have the theory Batman is the real core of Bruce Wayne, and Bruce is the mask. Was that something you felt in your portrayal, that you're more Batman than Bruce?
"That's kind of what this whole game is all about, in my opinion. It is us, or Batman, trying to figure out, 'What is it that makes me tick?' For me personally, one of the neatest things about the character of Batman, is at his core, he wants to do the right thing. Yet it's a subjective thing because Gordon sees him as operating outside of the law, therefore he's a criminal.
"I think Bruce Wayne is the guy, that at all times, is present underneath that cowl. Because he knows who he is, and how others may perceive him, it wouldn't be anywhere near as intimidating. How could he go out and fight crime if he wasn't this other entity? To me, there's this element of Bruce in everything because he's a guy who's tortured by the death of his family, and that is inherently one of his motivational factors to make a difference in the world."