Director Christopher Nolan Praises the Performances of Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises
07.26.12 by BrentJS
Despite the overwhelming critical acclaim for The Dark Knight — a stunning 94% approval rating on aggregate review site RottenTomatoes — both the movie and director Christopher Nolan were snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when it came time to hand out Oscars and the furor over the omissions contributed, at least in part, to the expansion of nominees from five to ten. Nolan's third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, is also rating very highly with — an 86% approval rating from critics, but a 93% rating from fans — though it appears to be a more polarizing movie, with some calling it a "masterpiece" and others using far less generous words to describe it. Still, The Dark Knight Rises is generating considerable Oscar buzz already, based on the merits of the movie itself and, as Oscar pundit Tom O'Neil puts it, because "Batman is holding a giant Oscar I.O.U. and academy members are obliged to pay it off."
We won't know for some time whether The Dark Knight Rises will receive any sort of recognition from the Academy, but Nolan has already made it clear that the movie owes a great deal to the performances of two of his principal actors. In a recent podcast interview with Empire, Nolan called Christian Bale's performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman "a pretty amazing achievement" and praised Anne Hathaway for her "very convincing take" on Selina Kyle/Catwoman, calling her an "incredibly precise actress" who can "captivate a thousand people and fill a room with her energy."
Nolan on Bruce Wayne's "journey" and how Bale "never strayed far" from the "truth" of the character.
The underlying themes really all come back to Bruce Wayne and his journey and the trauma he suffered as a child and what that has meant. So there is an undercurrent, for example, of fear, you know. There's a very big, very strong thematic concern with fear and what fear can do to people and what it could be used for, and so forth. And we tried to be true to those threads. And I think Christian, in his performance, is very consistent to maintaining the truth of what's happened to this guy and where that might lead and what impulses that's driven him towards. I think he's never strayed far from those original ideas, those original concerns. And I think it means that if people do take the time and the trouble to watch all three films together, in some way, they'll see a pretty amazing achievement in performance from Christian Bale.
Nolan on why he chose Hathaway and why her character is only referred to as "Selina Kyle" and not "Catwoman" in the movie.
We cast Anne at the end of a pretty long process. I met with her early on, but I felt with Catwoman we would need to actually screen test and, you know, all of this stuff, because she's such an icon. And Anne just comes alive as the character, I mean, she just was able to take on the notion of not ego/alter-ego — not librarian-by-day, jewel thief-by-night, Selina/Catwoman — the idea that this is Selina Kyle. We don't actually refer to her as "Catwoman" in the film — not out of any other reason than there's no reason for a character to call her that — but it speaks to the underlying principle behind the character, which is to say, this is a specific person, this is Selina Kyle. She's a con woman, she's a grifter, and she's a jewel thief. And Anne really came up with a very convincing take on that. What she brings to it, and what we saw as soon as we screen tested for the role, is she's an incredibly precise actress. She's capable of a very, very realistic psychological characterization, which is the basis of what the character needed to be. But she also has this incredible sense of performance. She can go on stage, you know, and sing a musical number or whatever and captivate a thousand people and fill a room with her energy. And so when you're looking at building on a psychologically real basis, but building into some very extreme iconography, which is what the Catwoman with the costume and the fighting and all of this stuff represents, you need both sides and Anne has those, in equal measure.
If you care to hear more from Nolan about The Dark Knight Rises, you can listen to his entire Empire interview by using the player below.