BATMAN: HUSH Exclusive Interview With The Caped Crusader Himself, Jason O'Mara

With Batman: Hush now available on all platforms, we caught up with Jason O'Mara to talk about his take on the Dark Knight, the movie's interpretation the hero, & a possible Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. return.

Batman: Hush is the latest animated DC Comics movie from Warner Bros. Animation, and it adapts the iconic story arc of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. The movie takes this epic adventure in some very unexpected new directions, however, and continues the long-running story of this version of the Caped Crusader.

To celebrate the movie's release following its premiere at Comic-Con last month, I recently had the opportunity to talk to star Jason O'Mara. Perhaps best known to comic book fans for starring in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Irish actor has played The Dark Knight over the course of ten movies since 2014, and is one of the world's most prolific Batman actors as a result. 

In this interview, I talk to Jason about where we find his Bruce Wayne in Batman: Hush and touch on which storylines he would like to see adapted moving forward, whether he's returning to Marvel's flagship TV series for its final season, his future as the Dark Knight, and much more.

We would obviously like to say a huge thank you to Jason for taking the time to talk to us about the film!

Batman: Hush comes to DVD, Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray Steelbook And Blu-Ray Mini Fig Edition August 12.

O Mara

The movie takes some liberties with the source material, so did you read the comic book version of this story to prepare or was the script enough? 
I had already read Batman: Hush just as a comic book fan but it had been a while. When they announced that they were going to be doing it as part of my continuity, I read the comic book again and then they sent me the script. I was able to see some of the changes that were made immediately but I actually thought they worked really well, not least because it had to work in our continuity. I think this is the thirteenth film in the series and my tenth outing as Batman so it had to work as part of the overarching storyline. By the way, the fact that they're doing Batman: Hush for this storyline is very, very exciting! I was thrilled when I found out. It was announced on a panel last year, I think, and I was praying that it would involve my version of Batman so when it was, it was a huge thrill.

While some liberties have been taken, I do think that even if it wasn't part of this continuity, there would still have to be dramatic changes to the story because it's just a different medium. This is a movie and it's very different to telling the story in a comic book form so I think all the changes worked really well and if you've read the comic book before seeing the movie, you'll still enjoy it and if you haven't read the comic book, you'll enjoy it just as much. I thought it was necessary and when it played in front of an audience of 4,250 people at San Diego Comic-Con two weekends ago, you could tell that it really did need a big, splashy exciting climax which doesn't quite happen in the comic book. 

In the movie, Batman says that "deep down" he's not a good person; having played the character for such a long time, is that something you would agree with?
I think it's something he's struggling with, yeah. I think when someone comes back from your childhood like Thomas Elliot has, it makes you reflect on things and then when things happen to people you love, it can drive you a little crazy. Batman almost loses it a couple of times and he's also falling in love. It's a really intense Batman story for the character and he's trying to reconcile both his personas. This whole storyline has been about him reconciling himself as a father and now he's falling in love.


He's struggling and really up against it in this movie and I think it's always fascinating when we see Bruce Wayne under pressure and trying to figure out what he's able to accept and what he isn't in terms of other people. He's just really strung out in this and that's a new thing for this Batman storyline and it's doesn't happen in every movie. Often times, Bruce has a challenge of the week, if you like, and he goes and he kicks ass and takes names and everything ends up being nicely wrapped in a little bow. That's not what happens here. This is about Bruce Wayne and Batman's inner journey as to what defines being a good person and what defines being in a relationship and what defines fighting for what you believe is right. All of those things come into play here and I think that's what makes it unique and exciting. 
For most of the movie, Hush is one step ahead of Batman. How was it portraying a more vulnerable side of the Dark Knight and did that affect your performance this time around?
Not only is Hush ahead of Batman but the audience is ahead of Batman. The audience knows a lot more about Hush than Batman does both as a reader and a viewer so it's quite interesting actually because Batman is playing catch up in this. He is really vulnerable and really exposed. What's great about the romance is that he's not just physically exposed but now he's become emotionally exposed. Like in almost every Batman and Catwoman story, he reveals himself to be Bruce Wayne and that's really vulnerable for him because he's basically compromising his false identity that protects himself and the people he loves. So, yeah, he's really vulnerable in this and I found that as we were trying to figure out the two different voices of Batman and Bruce Wayne while we were recording, Wes Gleason, the voice director, and me had to stop at one moment and go, 'Wait, is he Bruce Wayne here or Batman?' It became less important as to whether he was wearing the cowl or not and more important to what he was saying and what he was feeling.

I would often use the Bruce Wayne voice when he was Batman. Not so much vice versa but sometimes. The difference between Bruce and Batman here...the lines get blurred. You literally can't have someone as shut down as Batman having a tender scene with someone he loves. It just won't happen. The Batman persona is about holding back, it's about being on a mission, and it's about vigilante justice. It's not about kissing on rooftops! [Laughs] It's a great image but you just can't have The Batman voice speaking tenderly and openly in an emotional way. I thought that was a really interesting journey on this as the Batman and Bruce Wayne voices kind of melt and merge and it's definitely a story that has many firsts and I think that's great. You can make rules about when he's Batman and Bruce Wayne but it's also fun to break them. 

Three more DC animated movies have been confirmed for the next year or so - have you received the call to return as Batman in any of those?
[Laughs] I'm not allowed to reveal anything! There are plenty of them to come, that's for sure. 
Going back to this movie, we see Batman very nearly break his no-kill rule with The Joker; if it wasn't for Jim Gordon's intervention, do you think your version of the character would have crossed that line? Could he go down that darker route one day? 

I actually think that now we've seen a vulnerable side to Batman after he's compromised his identity, I think he is open to further compromise. I don't know what's going to happen in the future for him but exploring that further would be really exciting. Also, exploring his relationship with his son, Damian. That hasn't been quite been resolved yet and while we've touched on it, including here, we've gone to great lengths to set up the Bruce Wayne/Damian Wayne storyline and I think there's some more story to be mined there in the future. I think that's absolutely something that should be explored and apart from being the all powerful leader and iconic quintessential hero Batman is, flipping him on his head and compromising him is exactly what you want to do with a character like this. 
Batman's relationship with Selina Kyle is taken to the next level in this movie; how much fun was it for you to portray that "loved up" side of the character here?

[Laughs] Loved up! That's funny. It was great and I suppose I touched on it earlier with trying to find that tenderness. You play Bruce Wayne and Batman and the sandbox is very small. There's not a huge amount of leeway. Obviously, there is with Bruce but with Batman, if you try to express yourself too much, it doesn't sound like Batman any more. Trying to find that tenderness within Bruce Wayne's range isn't easy. We played with those levels and I think the work Jennifer Morrison has done is wonderful because she's able to be a lot more expressive and in the way she speaks for Batman a lot of the time as they talk about their feelings and she comments that he doesn't say much or express his feelings much but she knows his heart is in the right place.


There's something star crossed about them. The question is, why aren't they together all the time? They seem perfectly suited to each other apart from this one thing that they seem to be coming from different points of view in the vigilante work and their alter-ego work. The question is, can both parties accept the other part of each other that seems to be unacceptable? That was a really enjoyable and emotionally complex ride to take. Unusual too. Jennifer Morrison and I aren't in the same room when we record so a lot of that is left up to the editing and takes that are chosen. Having said that, I think the romance plays far better than I thought it would. I thought it would be secondary to the mystery but actually it's just as enjoyable as any other part of the movie. 

Not many actors can say they've played Batman in the grand scheme of Hollywood but, as you mentioned, you've now played him ten times and are one of the most prolific Batman actors out there. How does it feel to be part of that elite club?
[Laughs] I've never really looked at it like that to be honest. I've just taken it one movie at a time and it's one potato, two potato and now there now a canon of work seven or eight years later. I'll tell you what, though, it's an absolute honour and privilege to be asked back every time I do get asked. I don't know if it puts me in any sort of pantheon and I don't really look at it that way. I think what's key in all of this for any actor playing Batman, including this new fella Robert Pattinson who's got his work cut out, and by the way, I think everyone should give the kid a chance, but at the same time I think what's really important is that we're all just there to serve this character. Batman was around long before I was born and he'll be around long after I'm gone.

You wear the Bat symbol for a short amount of time and all you can really hope to do is leave it in a slightly better place than where you found it and that's it. You move on and so any opportunity you get, you just do the best work that you can and it's up for others to decide whether it's any good or not. I will say that over time, initially it's a bit like the Doctor Who complex like 'Who is this new imposter? He can never replace the old Doctor who!' and then you go, 'Actually this new one isn't so bad!' and then they go 'No! I don't ever want this Doctor Who to leave!' It's that sort of vicious cycle. Initially, I was met with 'Who the hell is this guy? We want Kevin Conroy.' And as time has gone on, I feel like I've been accepted a lot more into the fandom and not least by kids who have grown up listening and watching the Batman movies I have done. That is really rewarding and might be the most rewarding part of it all. 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is gearing up for its final season and we've seen characters resurrected or in flashbacks a number of times – is there any chance we could see The Patriot return do you think?
[Laughs] You know I can't tell you! This is Marvel and DC you're talking about. We can't reveal anything. There are NDAs out the wazoo! So, no, I can't reveal anything about that or even talk about it. I know very little about season seven although I will say that I went to the wrap party on Tuesday night on their last day of production ever and it was great to see all the gang again. I'll leave that one there! [Laughs]
One final Batman question for you. You mentioned that you were a fan of Hush beforehand, but are there any other storylines you would like to see adapted that you could star in? 

Oh, let me see. Well, except for the obvious, there are endless Justice League stories and Justice League Dark stories. So, there are those. I think in terms of the classic ones, we've checked a lot of those boxes. Batman & Son became Son of Batman and we incorporated The Court of Owls into Batman vs. Robin so, yeah, I think we've covered quite a few of them. I'd be really excited how we continue to adapt some of these more recent New 52 stories and throw them into animated movies that fit this continuity. In this continuity, Batman is a father and that's kind of what sets him apart but I've also really enjoyed exploring the character in a slightly deeper way and I think that Batman: Hush sets up some potentially exciting stories in future. 
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