With Christopher Nolan’s new film, OPPENHEIMER, Nolan and the film’s star, Cillian Murphy, sat down for a discussion about their many collaborations over the years…including THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY.
As I’m sure y’all recall, Nolan wrote (with David Goyer and Jonathan Nolan) and directed those 3 Batman films, while Murphy played Dr. Jonathan Crane/”The Scarecrow” in them. Here’s the part of their conversation about the TRILOGY…
NOLAN [Laughs]: You came out to L.A. for the screen test and we had dinner at a hotel. I felt an immediate connection. I felt like, this is somebody that I want to work with, somebody who has an interesting take on things creatively.
MURPHY: It was clear to me from the beginning that I wasn’t Batman material. It felt to me that it was correct and right that it should be Christian Bale for that part. But I remember the buzz of trying on the suit and being directed by you. Those tests were high production values.
NOLAN: When we had our first conversation I think both of us knew that you weren’t going to wind up playing Batman. But I really wanted to get on set with you, I wanted to get you on film. We did those screen tests very elaborately, on 35mm, with a little set. There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when you started to perform. We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you were doing on set. Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, “Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?” there was no dissent. All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing. That was a big leap for them and it really was purely on the basis of that test. So that’s how you got to play Scarecrow.
MURPHY: The villain that never died!
NOLAN [Laughs]: He never died, just conveniently would be sort of offscreen somehow. Therefore [I was] able to call you up and say, “Come on back and put the sack over your head one last time.”
MURPHY: Yeah, he’s still out there.
NOLAN: He’s still out there, still with a bag on his head. My favorite appearance of Scarecrow in the trilogy is definitely the kangaroo court scene [in The Dark Knight Rises] where he’s on top of that massive pile of desks. I just think, in a world of anarchy, the last judge you’d want to come in front of would be Jonathan Crane.
MURPHY: I love that scene as well. I remember when you called, you said, “You want to read the script?” and I said, “You know what, I don’t actually want to read the script. Just tell me what I’m doing, just tell me what my motivation is, and then I want to see the movie.” I didn’t want to spoil it. So I just came in for that one day, did that little bit on that amazing set, and then waited to see the movie. And it was worth it.
I loved the fact that Murphy’s Scarecrow was kinda-sorta the “connective tissue” between the 3 films and that he is indeed “still out there.”
(Thanks to BOF’s Ryan Lower for the heads up!)