Earlier this week CBR News brought you a look at the upcoming film “Batman Begins” with our movie review. Today, CBR News brings you the text of our chat with the stars and makers of the film conducted late last week. CBR News spoke with actors Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes and Gary Oldman as well as writer David Goyer about the making of “Batman Begins.”
CBR News: Katie, what made you decide to do this movie?
Katie Holmes: I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan ever since “Memento.” I heard they were making this movie and I tried to get as many meetings as I could with Warner Bros. I read the script and then I tested with Christian [Bale] who was already cast as Batman over in London. I waited by the phone for three days and then I got the call and immediately called everyone I knew.
CBR News: Was it the slap that got you the part?
Holmes: (Joking) Yes, it was the slap!
CBR News: How about you Michael?
Michael Caine: Christopher turned up at my house on a Sunday morning with his script and said that he was doing Batman, which I thought was extraordinary because I knew what he had done with “Insomnia” and “Memento.” He made me read it because he wouldn’t leave it the script. So I gave him lunch and I read the script. I had seen many Batman movies before, but this was called “Batman Begins” and it was just that. That’s why I did the movie because Chris was directing and the script was so good.
CBR News: Apparently, Nolan and Goyer used “The Man Who Would Be King” as a reference.
Caine: (Joking) They never told me that, I would have asked for royalties! I didn’t see any reference to “The Man Who Would Be King,” (joking) but I’m going to go back and have another look.
CBR News: What qualities best describe your characters?
Caine: I wanted to bring a very unusual, very tough butler for Batman. I didn’t want to use an obsequious, bobbing ‘dinner and serve’ type of person. I wanted someone extremely tough so I did a back-story on myself. He was an SAS sergeant which is a very tough British Army unit. I made him a military man and in the British Army, officers have a Private that does all the stuff like cleaning their boots and brasses and he is called a “bat-man.” So I was Batman’s “bat-man.”
Holmes: I didn’t have a character to draw from, but the script was so well written, the character was all on the page. That’s what I liked about playing Rachel – she’s such a strong character. She’s tough and able to be honest with Bruce and tell him how she really feels without having to apologize for it.
Christian Bale: I viewed it as [Batman] being the absolute sincere raging character within him [Bruce Wayne]. But then you have the Bruce Wayne facade; the playboy billionaire guy. Then you have the angry Bruce Wayne discovering who he is and getting some sense of purpose.
Morgan Freeman: My perception of this character was that of a professional– an engineer with a slight sense of humor.
CBR News: Speaking of having a sense of humor, the previous films had a sense of humor in place while this one seemed more serious – what was your approach to this film?
David Goyer: We wanted it to be more serious because my only thought was that the latter of the previous films were diverging farther and farther from how Batman was depicted in the graphic novels.
Bale: After reading the script I think this is what Bob Kane intended. I spoke with his wife and she said he was a little appalled at the T.V. series spoofing what he had intended. To me, if you really want to make a Batman movie, you really have to pick a side. Either you really send it up like Adam West did because a man in a “bat” suit can be really funny; or you take it seriously and delve into the demons within this character. I think that the other movies kind of went in between.
Freeman: I think that a more serious approach made for a more fully realized story. We are all familiar with Batman, but that familiarity demands something else. This is what Chris Nolan and David Goyer actually delivered. We have a very familiar character and then we realize, “Hey, I didn’t know that about him.” We knew that his parents were killed by some guy but we didn’t know what happened to him. What made Bruce Wayne become Batman? Where did he get all this stuff? Where did he learn how to fight? And the whole thing with the ninjas– [snaps his fingers] that was perfect.
CBR News: David, why did you pick the Scarecrow?
Goyer: One, he hadn’t been used in any of the previous films. Two, he’s creepy and we wanted to explore themes revolving around fear. Then there’s Ra’s Al Ghul and when you look at the Batman villain pantheon, these were two of the best.
CBR News: Christian, did you use any materials to get a better understanding of the character?
Bale: Very much so. The great revival of Batman with “Year One” by Frank Miller. I used the art work of Alex Ross to help me get into character on how Batman stands and moves and crouches. I really loved his artwork. The three graphic novels that stand out were “War,” “Dark Victory” and “The Long Halloween.”
Goyer: When Frank Miller came out with “Year One” at the tail end of the eighties, I think it was the best thing for the franchise.
CBR News: So are you happy with it?
Bale: I am really happy with it. I think that Chris and David did a fantastic job. I think it will be the first movie that pleases the hardcore graphic novel fan and that it will also have something for people who aren’t familiar to enjoy because it is just good film making.
CBR News: Why do you think people are so fascinated with Batman?
Bale: I think that it’s modern day mythology. These characters are modern day gods and Batman is the one god we could be. Essentially that is what superheroes are; modern day American mythology.
Gary Oldman: I like it for what it stands for– right and wrong; good and bad. It’s about compassion and justice prevails.
CBR News: Gary how was it playing a good guy?
Oldman: [Joking] I’ve been asked this question all day and I’m here to set the record straight. I have played a good guy. This just hangs in the gallery with all the other good guys I have played.
CBR News: Name them.
Oldman: Well there’s Beethoven and (joking) Dracula.
CBR News: (Raises an eyebrow)
Oldman: (Joking) Dracula was just a victim. Sure he was a vampire, but he was just misunderstood.
CBR News: Were you a Batman fan when you were younger Gary?
Oldman: I was never a huge fan of comic books; I just wasn’t one of those kids.
Freeman: (Joking) he was too busy reading Gibson.
Oldman: (Joking) In its original language. I did like the movies and I loved the television series with Adam West. I used to get a tape recorder and record the audio from the T.V. and sometimes the power would go out and that dot would show up on the screen and I’d yell “Mom, I’m in the middle of Batman.” But those shows don’t hold up anymore.
CBR News: Are you lined up for any sequels?
Freeman: (Joking) I’m not lined up for anything. They said that they’ll call me.
Bale: I signed for two more.
Caine: (Joking) I am mentally dedicated to another film.
Oldman: I’m signed up to do the next one (looks at Morgan) and they’ll be calling you. And we have the Joker next.
CBR News: Any idea on who will be the Joker?
Freeman: No idea.
Bale: I don’t know.
CBR News: Christian how physically taxing was this movie on you?
Bale: It was excessive since I was so thin. I had been filming “The Machinist” and I usually am about one hundred and eighty five pounds. I had to drop to one hundred and twenty one for The Machinist and then I had to bulk up to two hundred and twenty for “Batman Begins” in the span of five months. That was very taxing.
CBR News: One last question and I am going to direct this to David. Since I know you have laryngitis I’ll make it an easy one. [Takes off polo shirt to reveal a t-shirt of the Flash], how is the new project coming?
Goyer: [Laughs] It is coming along. I’m writing it now.