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Christopher Nolan Talks The Politics & Influences Of 'The Dark Knight Rises' & More From the Film's Press Tour

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 24, 2012 10:00 AM
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Matthew Modine, Joseph Gordon Levitt, TDKR
When Hathaway auditioned for Nolan , she didn't know she was auditioning for the role of Selina Kyle
Anne Hathaway was up against an impressive list of actresses for the role of Catwoman, including Keira Knightley, Jessica Biel and Kate Mara. But when she first sat down with Nolan, she didn't know Catwoman was on the cards. "I found out during a sit-down with Chris which was about a two hour meeting," she said. "I found out at the end of the first hour that it was going to be Selina Kyle, Catwoman, which surprised me, I didn't think he was going to go there." Hathaway told MTV that Michelle Pfeiffer's role was so iconic that she assumed Nolan would try and go another way. "I don't know why, but I was so convinced that it wasn't going to be her. I had another character in mind so when he told me I had to shift gears immediately," she laughed. She also revealed that the character that she thought Nolan wanted her for was Harley Quinn.

Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, was brought in by Nolan early on, before the script was finished.
Having replaced James Franco in "Inception," Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to have become a firm favorite of Christopher Nolan, being given a prime role in "The Dark Knight Rises." And according to the actor, he was brought on very early in the process, invited to dinner by Nolan and Emma Thomas while the script was still being completed. The actor told MTV of the part: "It's hard to believe. What I love about John Blake is that he's an idealist amongst cynics. Gotham has become a cynical place, people are going with the status-quo. The fat cats are getting fatter and he's this rookie cop who is like, 'Wait a minute' and asking questions. And questioning authority doesn't always get you the best reception, especially when you're new." And Nolan adds "I think Gordon looks at [Blake] and see's himself twenty years before. There's something very moving about that. It lets you contrast these sort of wise, old souls -- these guys who have become burdened and jaded by the events of the past film -- with this youthful idealism, these breaths of fresh air."

The inspiration for Bane's voice comes from a gypsy bare-knuckle fighter called Bartley Gorman.
Bane's voice -- a rather plummy, upper class English boom -- has been seen as one of the most distinctive aspects of Tom Hardy's performance as Bane since it was first revealed. Hardy was in fact, inspired by an Irish bare-knuckle fighter (who incidentally, Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine have long been planning a biopic of, entitled "King Of The Gypsies"). "I know that he’s Latino-based, Bane," Hardy told EW. "And Chris’ take on Bane is always, like any Batman character is slightly [different], not on the nose. So what I wanted to do was honor the fans in one way, and then at the same time bring something new into it. So I came with trying to find the body of a very physical man, and the voice of an older man, and we found this Romani gypsy called Bartley Gorman, [a] bare-knuckled fighter that we based upon.”

The Dark Knight Rise, Tom Hardy, Bane
Bane's mask was moulded specifically to him, and was fiendishly tight.
The already-iconic Bane mask had to feel like something that he'd worn every day for years to keep him alive, and its creators was impressed by the way Hardy wore it. Costume effects supervisor Graham Churchyard explains in the production notes: "To us, the Bane mask had to fit like a prosthetic; however, unlike a prosthetic, it had to look like it was engineered out of metal. We were able to take Tom’s computer cast and 3D model each rigid piece to the contours of his head so it was tight to his face, with no gaps.” Meanwhile, designer Lindy Hemming adds, "It was gripping Tom’s head like a vice. With his assistance and patience, we made it as tight as it could ever have been. There was a magnetic removal panel on the front, so everything you see has a series of magnets underneath it, and everything beneath that has a rubber seal that pressed into Tom’s skin and was held on by tension. The fact that he tolerated it, let alone acted with it, was astounding.”

Catwoman's Bat-pod stunt rider had to be especially recruited.
On the first film, stunt motorcyclist Jean-Pierre Goy was deemed the only person who was capable of driving the Bat-pod, but with Catwoman donning the vehicle this time around, Anne Hathaway remembers in the production notes, "I was standing there with Chris, looking at the Bat-Pod, and he was telling me about Jean-Pierre and how he’s the only person in the world who can drive it. And I turned to him and said, ‘Can he look like a woman?’” As a result, they went to motocross racer Jolene Van Vugt, who was the first woman ever to backflip a dirt bike, and she says, "When they asked me if I thought I could ride it, I said, ‘You give me the opportunity, and I guarantee I can do it.’ The biggest hurdle was getting used to the body position because of the way you have to lean forward. It was just a matter of finding my balance and building up my comfort level, but within a few hours I was racing around, having fun.”

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  • tristan eldritch | July 24, 2012 2:13 PMReply

    "Have you made a film that's supposed to be criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement?' – well, obviously, that's not true... If the populist movement is manipulated by somebody who is evil, that surely is a criticism of the evil person."

    This is disingenuous. Bane blows up a football stadium, and shots a scientist before their eyes, and yet the people of Gotham still happily follow him. They are shown to be a stupid and destructive mob, who rush to loot and terrorize the rich, and cheer on a sadistic kangaroo court. The people of Gotham are never shown to oppose the obviously psychopathic Bane - only the traditional authoritarian forces, Batman and the police, do this. At the very least, this suggests an extremely negative vision of the people, and of the potential consequences of public unrest and revolutionary spirit. In The Dark Knight, Batman used invasive surveillance technology to save Gotham from the menace of the Joker - and his heroism in this regard is eventually recognized and celebrated in DKR - this would seem less like examining the issue of privacy, and more like simplified cheer-leading for the efficacy of police-state surveillance.

  • Fanboys make me sad | July 28, 2012 2:08 PM

    @Buntu: "anti-Nolan brigade" - seriously? You fanboys are pathetic. There are plenty of critics, commenters etc. (myself included) who like the movies but can see that there is a blatant right-wing bent running through them. The trilogy is undeniably right wing. When Nolan says that wasn't his intention he's either lying or he's an idiot. A great film-maker maybe, but an in terms of politics and semiotics, an idiot.

    As a fanboy I'd expect you to at least realize how often the inherent right-wing themes of the batman concept cropped up, and were explored in depth, in the comics. See for example everything featuring Anarky. Nolan's films don't contain any critical examination of the muddle of aristocratic and right-wing ideology that informs the main character's actions.

    When you point to the fact that Gothamites are hiding as evidence that this isn't right-wing propaganda, you miss the point completely. Portraying the "good" Gothamites as cowering sheeple, devoid of agency, waiting for a strong leader to come and lead the forces of authority (cops) to save them, is as right-wing as you can get.

    What's idiotic about the reaction to this film is everything written and uttered by pathetic fanboys who feel they have to defend a director backed by a massive studio with a marketing machine in its corner.

  • Zack | July 25, 2012 9:58 AM

    I'm kind of with Buntu. The only real hint of mass civilian collusion with Bane that we see is that one shot of a mob during Bane's speech, and they're just walking down the street looking disgruntled. They clearly didn't all join his army, or it wouldn't be noticeably smaller than the police force.

  • buntu | July 25, 2012 9:31 AM

    Bullshit. There's the suggestion that the underclasses and criminals rally behind Bane, but the ordinary Gotham citizens are too afraid to stand up to him. Empty streets, the comment that Gordon made about Modine sending his wife to open the door, etc. It's made clear most Gothamites are hiding. This anti-Nolan brigade are really tying themselves in knots trying to smear him as some sort of Rush Limbaugh-esque right-wing loon. It's idiotic.

  • James | July 24, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    I love this! Thanks for putting it together.

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