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While we await the return of DC Comics’ Dark Knight to the big screen with next year’s The Batman, which will see Robert Pattinson donning the cape and cowl, a new actor is putting their stamp on the character in the realm of animation. Supernatural star Jensen Ackles voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne for Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One and the soon-to-be-released Part Two, which adapt the same-named comic storyline written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale. When it came to figuring out how he would approach the character, the actor had one goal: don’t look to inspiration from past Batman performances.
Jensen Ackles was among the five guest who attended the Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two panel for the virtual San Diego Comic-Con, the others being fellow actors Troy Baker (The Joker), Katee Sackhoff (Poison Ivy) and Julie Nathanson (Julie Dent), as well as writer Tim Sheridan. When Ackles was asked if he’d ever thought to call Baker and ask for some Batman acting tips, as Baker has voiced the character in numerous projects, Ackles responded:
It’s just an all-star list of people that have voiced this character and played him live-action. It is a hot potato, and you don’t want to drop this one. I tried my best not to think about what somebody else had done, what I’d heard before. I really tried to knock all that out and not go in a direction that felt familiar to me. So I just tried to find it on my own, in my own way, and Wes [Gleason] was great, Butch [Lukic] was great [in helping].
Jensen Ackles is correct, as whether you’re looking at the live-action performances from actors like Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck, or looking the animated front with people like Kevin Conroy and Diedrich Bader, a lot of people have played this character in their own unique ways over the decades. But Ackles was determined not to in any way replicate what had come before, and with the aid of voice director Wes Gleason and supervising producer Butch Lukic, he succeeded in that goal.
That’s not to say the process of finding the right Batman/Bruce Wayne voice for both parts of Batman: The Long Halloween was easy for Jensen Ackles, but once he settled into a groove, he enjoyed the duality the role provided. As the actor put it:
At first I was just concentrating on knocking the Texas out of my accent… I didn’t want to slip into a Matthew McConaughey… And then it just kind of clicked and it sounded unique to me. That’s what it locked in as, and again, it’s fun when you start finding that rhythm, and then to balance that out with the Bruce Wayne and find another kind of level there, it’s a really good, fun challenge as an actor to play with those emotions from just simply your voice. You can’t use your arms, you can’t use your facial expressions, you can’t do any of that. That ain’t gonna be there.
The Batman: The Long Halloween movies mark Jensen Ackles’ second time lending his voice to an animated DC movie, having previously voiced Jason Todd/Red Hood in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Ackles is also boosting his comic book media cred by playing Solider Boy in Season 3 of Amazon’s The Boys, which is currently filming. Ackles wrapped up his 15-season run as Dean Winchester alongside Jared Padalecki’s Sam Winchester late last year, with The CW airing the final seven Supernatural episodes in October and November.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is now available to purchase; Part Two will be released digitally next Tuesday, July 27, and the Blu-ray and DVD copies will follow on August 10.