By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 29, 2011 at 10:33AM
Beautiful, smart and dangerous. Those are words that could be used to describe Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, portrayed by Anne Hathaway in Christopher Nolan's upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises." But they could also be used to describe Golden Age actress Hedy Lamarr, who in addition to being a stunning beauty, was also something of a genius, whose invention of the speed spectrum radio paved the way for the digital technology we know now (seriously, and you can read more about her various innovations in the new book "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World"). But before any of these things became known, Lamarr stripped and became famous in Gustav Machatý's notorious, nudity filled "Ecstasy," and it was in that film that Hathaway found the genesis for Catwoman. But not because of the skin.
“I know this sounds odd, but her breathing is extraordinary,” Hathaway told Hero Complex in a new interview. “She takes these long, deep, languid breaths and exhales slowly. There’s a shot of her in [the 1933 film] ‘Ecstasy’ exhaling a cigarette and I took probably five breaths during her one exhale. So I started working on my breathing a lot.”
But for director Christopher Nolan, it was plain old fashioned skill that made him believe that Hathaway was the right person to take on the role first embodied by Julie Newmar and later revitalized by Michelle Pfeiffer. “She had something very important we needed for this character — she’s an incredibly talented but naturalistic actress, which makes her great in film. She also has terrific theatrical skill so she can project a persona and there’s a big aspect of the character that is a persona. She’s a multi-layered character and we needed a great actress that could rise to that challenge," he said.
And being able to command attention proves crucial in a scene revealed by Hero Complex (**spoiler** we guess, though obviously, Warner Bros. showed the site the sequence knowing they'd write about it) in which Bane has the citizens of Gotham rounded up like refugees behind a barbed wire fence as he drags in his latest prisoner, Bruce Wayne. But looming in the background at the top of a set of stairs is Catwoman. As she walks down the stairs, she says, “Sorry to spoil things, boys, but Bane needs these guys himself,” while revealing stilletos capable of leaving a nasty mark if you come into contact with them and a pair of goggles/cat ears. And Hathaway confirms that skin-tight attire is largely functional, not just an excuse to show off her assets.
“I love the costume,” Hathaway said. “I love the costume because everything has a purpose, nothing is in place for fantasy’s sake, and that’s the case with everything in Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City.” And that extends to the characters, which Hathaway enthuses have, "complex, defined, sophisticated worldviews."
"The Dark Knight Rises" will hit theaters on July 20, 2012.