Iconic voice actor Troy Baker is enjoying the success of his most recent movie, Batman: The Long Halloween. A heartfelt adaptation that will keep you riveted until the final reveal, searching for clues the entire time. It is worthy of the original, perhaps even elevates it. The art, acting, and script all combine perfectly for a moody, film noir, cinematic experience. This bold attempt may have failed in the hands of lesser artists, but Batman: The Long Halloween lands shiny side up (full review here). Troy's performance as the Joker is a key part of the success of these two movies. Known for his voice work across all forms of media, including anime (Naruto: Shippuden, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), animation (The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Spider-Man), film (Batman: Assault on Arkham, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and video games (Skylanders series, World of Final Fantasy) Troy once again embodies the Clown Prince of Crime. Recently Baker sat down with Bleeding Cool to chat about his version of The Joker, tips on playing Batman, and remembers Adam West.
Batman: The Long Halloween is an iconic and influential story in Batman lore and comics in general. How familiar were you with the story before working on it?
Troy Baker: Everyone who knows about me knows that this is something that's an important part to me. So the opportunity for me to be in this was, to be really honest with you, I met it with fear and trembling… Long Halloween stands alone as a very unique one for the sheer fact of it really flips the script on all the characters. It is wracked with plot twists, and the sheer volume of characters makes it a burdensome challenge. The beauty is that everybody from (writer) Tim Sheridan to everyone in our cast everybody approached this as if this was a passion project. I was comforted to know that everyone else was like, 'We don't want to screw this up.' Everybody just wanted to make sure they got it right. I feel like whenever someone does something with that amount of reverent fear, the product is always better for it.
You have played Batman (Batman: The Telltale Series, Lego DC Comics Superheroes, Lego Batman 3) almost as much as you have played the Joker. Did you have any advice for Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, Batman: Under the Red Hood) as he donned the animated cowl?
TB: Yo, All I had for Jensen was props. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to tell him that to his face… There is a road map, at least a clearly defined line when it comes to Batman, right? Dark, menacing, low, and gravely if you can, is always a plus but not necessary. That's kind of like the formula that people use. There's an expectation when it comes to Batman. There really isn't a guidebook when it comes to Bruce. It's like,' Yeah. You're also playing Bruce Wayne.'
This is something that I'm really grateful for in the Telltale Series; we explored the fact they're both masks. Which one is he choosing to wear? Because the person that he inherently was, died along with his parents in Crime Alley. Now you just have two versions of the same broken boy. One dresses up in black and has a lot of cool toys, and the other still has to play the role of a billionaire. Those are two really, really challenging characters. So Jensen, being able to come in and navigate both of those, with established versions of both of those characters that have been done so well, I had no advice for him, man. Because that is a road that one must walk alone, and he did it with deftness. I have nothing but accolades to laud him for. He did incredibly well.
In addition to Batman: The Long Halloween, you have also played the Joker in Arkham Origins, Batman Unlimited, Assault on Arkham. What are the challenges of making a Joker voice your own without impersonating others that came before you, like Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, or Mark Hamill?
TB: Dude, that right there, therein lies the rub… I bristle at this every once in a while when someone will say, 'That's a great Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series) impression.' I'm not doing a Mark Hamill impression. Mark Hamill, his version of The Joker, to me, just is the Joker. So I look at that, and I go, if I can achieve that then I will be doing that…. It's not like I'm going to see if I can do A Mark Hamill impression. All I'm trying to do is jump over the vault that has been set before by not only Mark but also by Bob Kane, Tim Burton (and in The Long Halloween), Tim Sale, Jeph Loeb, and how they crafted this specific story. I'm not cognitively thinking, 'What's the impression that I can do in this?' It's just trying to be true to the character as it's been presented to me.
Let's ping pong back to Batman. You played the Dark Knight in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Do you have any stories about working with or hanging out with your co-star in that game, Adam West (Batman, Family Guy)? Does he influence your Batman?
TB: One of my favorite moments, and these are the moments that make me really miss San Diego Comic-Con, is we're doing step and repeats at San Diego (Comic-Con). Out of nowhere, Adam comes behind me, puts his arm on my shoulders, puts his cheek next to mine, bombs the interview, and says, 'I think he's going to make a wonderful Batman' and leaves. I can't remember who I was in front of. We both looked, and I was like, 'That was the coolest thing that ever happened.'
And being able to sit next to Adam on (a) Hall H panel at (San Diego) Comic-Con, just being able to look at Adam and say 'You are the giant upon whose shoulders all of us are standing.' was a tremendous moment. It is never lost on me that this character, as he has been iterated on so many times by so many incredibly talented people, is the reason that we were able to make The Long Halloween. Because of those giants that have gone before.
The all-star cast includes Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, Smallville) as Batman/ Bruce Wayne, Naya Rivera (Glee) as Catwoman Selina Kyle, Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Las Vegas) as Harvey Dent, Billy Burke (Twilight, Revolution, Zoo) as James Gordon, Titus Welliver (Bosch, Deadwood, The Town) as Carmine Falcone, David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad, Ant-Man, Dune, The Dark Knight) as Calendar Man, Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Batman: Arkham Knight) as Joker, Amy Landecker (Your Honor, Transparent) as Barbara Gordon, Julie Nathanson (Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) as Gilda Dent, Jack Quaid (The Boys, The Hunger Games) as Alberto, Fred Tatasciore (American Dad!, Family Guy) as Solomon Grundy, Jim Pirri (World of Warcraft franchise) as Sal Maroni, and Alastair Duncan (The Batman, Batman Unlimited franchise) as Alfred. Additional voices were provided by Frances Callier, Greg Chun, and Gary Leroi Gray.
Chris Palmer (Superman: Man of Tomorrow) directs Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two from a screenplay by Tim Sheridan (Reign of the Supermen, Superman: Man of Tomorrow). Produced by Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Supervising Producer Butch Lukic (Justice Society: World War II, Superman: Man of Tomorrow) and Executive Producers are Michael Uslan and Sam Register
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, is currently available on Digital and Blu-ray. Part Two is currently available on Digital and on Blu-ray beginning August 10, 2021.
In 2022, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One & Two will be available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack as a combined film presentation.