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Christopher Nolan Spends the 'Knight' At Lincoln Center: 5 Things Learned About Batman and Beyond

By Eric Mattina | Indiewire November 29, 2012 at 2:44PM

Christopher Nolan's critically and financially successful Batman may have retired his suit for good last July, but his creator has not yet exhausted talking about the trilogy. Last night, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center filled up with an eclectic crowd of veteran cinephiles, genre fans, and even children for "Film Comment Selects: An Evening with Christopher Nolan," where the indie film maker turned major Hollywood director sat down for a chat with Film Comment's own critic Scott Foundas. While briefly touching upon films such as "Inception" and "The Prestige," the talk primarily dealt with the Batman films, focusing on the genesis of the project, what attracted him to a sequel, and what ultimately made him interested in completing his trilogy. Nolan seems to be a very intelligent and loquacious gentleman, and the talk did not show any weariness or disdain for once again discussing a series which has consumed the last decade of his life and which many feel may be the most important collection of superhero films ever made.

Nolan's interest in completing the trilogy came from a desire to see these characters grapple with consequences

"A lot of the fun of getting to complete the trilogy was to say "Ok, I know I have Michael Caine, I know I have Christian Bale," and they could actually follow the consequences of what happened in the first two films. So rather than dropping that stuff and coming up with a whole new story, I thought "Ok, Michael burns that letter at the end (of "The Dark Knight"), so what does that really mean? Is he really going to be able to keep that a secret forever? Isn't that going to come out?" Really the whole film for me grew out of that idea of wanting to know. We finish "The Dark Knight" based on a set of lies, and what would that actually grow into. When you have actors like this, who are prepared to follow the thread of that characterization as if they are real people who have that history, you really get to feel that emotion."

Nolan's penchant for casting actors who have fallen by the wayside (such as Rutger Hauer in "Batman Begins," Tom Berenger in "Inception," Eric Roberts in "The Dark Knight," Tom Conti in "The Dark Knight Rises") both allows him to give work to those he finds undervalued and also enhances the epic scope of the piece

Rutger Hauer in "Batman Begins"
Warner Brothers Pictures Rutger Hauer in "Batman Begins"

"I think older actors are probably dreading that call these days. They probably think "Oh, have I've fallen that far. . .?" These guys are incredible actors who are undervalued in an industry where the protagonist in every script that you read, or indeed write, is a 35-year old white male. So there's a huge pool of talent, some of which like Michael Caine or Morgan Freeman or Gene Hackman are just established in popular imagination as very reliable story-tellers and extraordinary performers, but then you've got lesser knowns and people you haven't seen in a while who have done great work. They love what they do and if you can give them a little something to play they'll really make something of it. It's such an advantage to have that depth of casting where every role is played by someone who is going to make it real. Rutger Hauer created a whole backstory (for his part in "Batman Begins"). It's also great putting them with the younger actors who are terrified of them because they grew up watching their work. It was fun putting Tom Hardy with Tom Berenger in "Inception" because he was such a fan of his. It also gives the film more life and credibility. I think its about scale because you're not throwing any part of Gotham away. You're saying that every bit of this city and every level of it has some importance, and if you can cast that way you create more of an immersive environment."

Foundas closed the evening asking for a tease about Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman reboot "Man of Steel" (of which Nolan is producing)

"Producing is much easier than directing. Even as we speak I'm producing Zack's film. But I really think he's doing some very exciting things with it. I don't envy him for taking on such a project like Superman, but he's done things I haven't seen before. But you won't see it until next summer, and he still has many complex things left to do, but I think that it'll be very thrilling."

This article is related to: Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

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