In the mid-1960s, Adam West played brought Batman to life in living rooms all across the United States, delivering a fun, campy vibe to the hero many now as the Dark Knight. The iconic actor visited with Jonah Weiland in the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to discuss his journey as the Caped Crusader from 1966 through today, with Warner Bros. finally releasing a deluxe Blu-ray edition of the series on November 11. West talks about the rise and fall and rise of “Batman’s” popularity, what working on the “Beware the Grey Ghost” episode of “Batman: The Animated Series” episode meant to him and whether the character might be returning to the airwaves. The legendary actor also talks about his lengthy career as a voice actor, what challenges it presents versus live-action and how his grandchildren react to finding out Grandpa used to be Batman.
On the 1960s “Batman” TV series’ resurgent popularity: What goes around comes around, right? If you can wait, and keep at it and have the persistence, sometimes it works out. With me it’s worked out beautifully. You know I do these comic cons, maybe five or six a year, and get out there and know the people, make ’em happy, shake hands and listen to their stories. I get to know the audience and I think it’s terribly important.
On whether he ever got down on himself or the business: There are times I think in everyone’s life, and especially in this crazy business, there’s so many ups and downs and so the job is to level things out a bit for a perspective that’s honest and maybe humorful. If you can do that and keep your curiosity and keep your interest alive it’s good. It certainly worked for me. I’ve had over fifty years in this.
On when he realized his voice was a huge asset: My last year in college. I got a job in radio and I found that I could do it. And it was sweeping the floors of the studio, but you know, I did all that stuff. Then I went on and I got another job in radio, and then in TV, so it always kind of worked for me. I never thought much about it because it’s just something that comes along in the genes, or gargling with vodka, I don’t know, Jonah. It just works.
I guess I’m lucky that way, but I can’t get away with anything. You know I pick up a phone and I get the operator and she says right away, “Mr. West,” I say, “How did you nail me?” “Your voice, sir.” [Laughs] I guess I have kind of a strange voice.
On whether he finds voice work more or less challenging than traditional acting: I don’t think it’s more challenging at all, unless you do vocal tricks and want to play maybe a variety of characters that are really bizarre with different [various vocal tricks] voice levels, and different ages and things, you know. But maybe that’s challenging. If you just do things in a straight ahead manner, like playing good jazz or something, it’s not that difficult. Not at all. Well, playing the mayor, myself on “Family Guy,” is a little tough because when you read those lines, Jonah, you wonder, “Can I do this? I don’t think I can do this — if my wife hears this…” Those things are challenges and you find a way to do something fresh with it, and it’s wonderful.
On his happiest memories from working on “Batman”: I have many [happy moments]. I have many miserable moments, because you’re totally overworked when you’re the title guy and you’re running around in the costume doing really strange things. I guess the good memories were mostly the fun I had with the guest stars because they were really wonderful actors, and some great celebrities did the show, and you stand there working with them toe to toe and you learn. And you pick up the little breezes, what’s happening. I love that. For example, Frank Gorshin as the Riddler — you know Frank had this manic intensity, and he was half-crazed, and I enjoyed working like that. As I do with you, Jonah, here, half-crazed.
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