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Being Two Different Kinds of Batman, the Roger Craig Smith Way


Roger Craig SmithWhen we last spoke with voice actor Roger Craig Smith, he had just begun playing Captain America in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and the dastardly Ripslinger in DisneyToon’s Planes, in addition to his earlier iconic roles as Sonic the Hedgehog in several earlier video games and as the assassin Ezio in the Assassin’s Creed video games. Mr. Smith’s career hasn’t stood still in the interim, though, as he can now add one of the most iconic fictional characters in history to his resume, playing Batman in the Arkham Origins video game in 2013, and reprising the same role (in a very different format) in the direct-to-video animated feature film Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (available now via digital download, and arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on May 12, 2015). We spoke with Roger Craig Smith via telephone recently about his latest work, and though a technical glitch meant we weren’t able to use the recording for an interview, we had enough to talk about his feelings on the newest additions to his body of work.

Although his work on Batman: Arkham Origins was done and in the can, Mr. Smith said that he didn’t think that work earned him any special consideration in landing the Batman Unlimited role, adding that it was just a regular audition for a character he had happened to play in a different context. The movie is definitely aimed at a much younger audience than the video game, which mostly meant that he toned down the aggression in the movie’s version of Batman. He definitely appreciated the value of having “a Batman for every audience,” as he quoted Bruce Timm at the recent Batman Unlimited panel at WonderCon. That panel was also the movie’s world premiere, and also the first time he had seen the entire movie end-to-end. He was happy that the extremely diverse audience all seemed to like it, with all the jokes landing and the action scenes playing equally well. His impression was that everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy the film no matter what age they were, and while he appreciates the more mature direct-to-video movies, he felt it was also important that there was Batman material that younger viewers could enjoy as well as older family members.

Batman Unlimited Animal Instincts Roger Craig SmithUnlike many animated features, Mr. Smith got to record in several group sessions with other cast members. He noted that he was fortunate to be able to do that in this role, and while casting directors try to do ensemble records as much as possible, schedules in Hollywood often prevent it. He added that his personal best was one session for Avengers Assemble that managed to get 14 actors in the studio at one time, and that the real surprise was that they were able to get anything done at all with that many voice actors in one room at one time.

Fans can also soon hear Roger Craig Smith in the new Transformers: Robots in Disguise show on Cartoon Network, where we can at least reveal that he has been cast as Jetstorm, Slipstream, and Airazor. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith wasn’t able to say much about those roles since the episodes haven’t premiered in the United States yet and he was wary of accidentally revealing spoilers (which apparently means Hasbro can sic a Decepticon on you or something). However, the episodes should be airing soon, and have already aired in some overseas regions.

Batman Unlimited Animal Instincts Roger Craig SmithOne question we had for Mr. Smith was the impact of the Brave New World of cross-media on his career, since he’s playing Sonic, Batman, and Captain America for both TV shows and video games, and an interactive video game is central to Hasbro’s strategy with the latest round of Transformers toys (which means he may end up doing work there as well). However, he chalks up those multiple roles and opportunities to “sheer luck” over any kind of sea-change in the industry making it easier to be a working voiceover actor. He told us that while landing a big, iconic role like Batman or Sonic might offer the prospect of more work in the future, that’s definitely not a guarantee of anything since different projects have different producers and different needs,which often drive re-casting roles. He cited the many different voice actors who have played Batman in a variety of media throughout the years, and the fact that he doesn’t expect Sony to come calling to offer him the role of Sonic in the upcoming live-action/CGI hybrid movie.

The best place to keep up with Roger Craig Smith is through his Twitter account. In addition to his work in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts and Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Roger Craig Smith is also the title character in Sonic Boom, and will be in several upcoming episodes of Clarence and Regular Show. And hey: the fact that all these shows are on Cartoon Network now (and that both Sonic Boom and Transformers: Robots in Disguise both air on Saturday mornings) means maybe we should lobby Cartoon Network for a #RogerCraigSmithBlock.

Toonzone would like to thank Roger Craig Smith for taking the time to talk with us again, and to Diana Dixon at Persona PR for arranging the interview.