Christopher Nolan Explains Why He Began Making Batman Movies
Posted 02.09.11 by Ryan
Director Christopher Nolan was recently interviewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where he received the Modern Master Award and discussed his career in movies. While it may not seem so now, Nolan was an unusual choice for a Batman movie prior to 2005's Batman Begins. At that point in his career, Nolan had only directed the thrillers Memento and Insomnia. He became involved in the movie after his agent notified him that Warner Bros. was looking to make another Batman movie and Nolan pitched the studio his Batman idea, SeattlePI reports.
Darren Aronofsky had been developing Batman: Year One for a while, but wanted it to be rated R and Warner Bros. didn't think they could do that. When I thought about what hadn't been done, it was an epic telling of his origin story. What I pitched the studio was what Richard Donner had done with Superman in '78. Tim Burton had done his version [Batman] in his own idiosyncratic, gothic way, but the origin story of an ordinary world with Batman, this extraordinary character, in it, is what interested me.
Nolan said he was attracted to Batman because he's "not a superhero with superpowers" but "an ordinary man who does a lot of push-ups".
His money is his superpower, but he's a real man driven by film noir motivations that I love — revenge. There are so many things you can do with that range. We're about to begin our third film, simply because I find him such an interesting character.
Casting was Nolan's next step, and the director was already a fan of Christian Bale after watching him in a movie that wouldn't usually be associated with Batman.
I liked Christian a lot in American Psycho. He was mesmerizing and terrifying. But if you watch it again, you realize how funny it is. How funny he is in it. I had a great conversation with him at a restaurant. He'd only drink coffee, no food. I didn't notice it immediately, but you could see his ribs from behind. He had lost all his weight for The Machinist. I left the meeting thinking, "This guy is Bruce Wayne." He understood incredible dedication to something. My big fear about him was that he'd want to be this 90-pound Batman. But he got the weight back on, then muscle. It was like a 100-pound swing.
Nolan is now onto his third Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, which Nolan says was not planned since he saw Batman Begins "as a stand-alone film." Then he introduced the character of the Joker at the end of the movie.
I think we had left ourselves with a pretty interesting jumping off point [with Batman Begins]. What was fascinating is that I got to cast Heath [Ledger] without him having read the script. His interest was based on conversations about the character of the Joker and what he would relate to as a force of anarchy. I watched the movie again recently, as we get ready to go into the third, and I really think the second half was a white-knuckle ride just driven by the unpredictability of Heath. What he figured out about the Joker in his performance that we never discussed is that unpredictability. You never knew where his performance was going to go, what he was going to do next.
Shooting on The Dark Knight Rises begins in May. Bale will be joined by newcomers Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.