THE DARK KNIGHT Production Notes
Batman returns in the sequel to BATMAN BEGINS
Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Official Website: THE DARK KNIGHT
Special Thanks to Gemma Cacho and Donna Elyassian
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new film.
The following production notes were created by Warner Bros. Pictures for THE DARK KNIGHT, opening in theaters this Friday, July 18. The text is © 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Batman and all related characters are TM & © DC Comics.
The follow-up to the action hit “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and the committed new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham City for good. The triumvirate initially proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces The Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.
Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger (“Brokeback Mountain”) portrays arch-villain The Joker, and Aaron Eckhart plays District Attorney Harvey Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast in the role of Rachel Dawes. Returning from “Batman Begins” are Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Jim Gordon; Oscar winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) as Alfred; and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) as Lucius Fox.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a Syncopy Production, a Christopher Nolan film, “The Dark Knight.” Nolan directed the film from a screenplay written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. Charles Roven, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan are the producers, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull serving as executive producers. “The Dark Knight” is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Wally Pfister (“The Prestige,” “Batman Begins”), Oscar-nominated production designer Nathan Crowley (“The Prestige”), Oscar-nominated editor Lee Smith (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”) and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (“Topsy-Turvy”). The music is by Oscar winner and multiple Oscar nominee Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King,” “Gladiator”) and seven-time Oscar nominee James Newton Howard (“Michael Clayton,” “The Fugitive”), who previously collaborated on the score for “Batman Begins.”
Six sequences of “The Dark Knight” were filmed with IMAX cameras, including the opening six minutes. This marks the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras, marking a revolutionary integration of the two film formats. The IMAX Experience will appear in IMAX DMR (letterbox), while scenes shot with IMAX cameras on 15/70mm film will expand vertically to fill the entire IMAX screen, which can be up to eight stories tall, for an all-encompassing moviegoing experience.
“The Dark Knight” will be distributed worldwide in theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
“The Dark Knight” has been rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and some menace.”
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money.
They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.
Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
With “Batman Begins,” writer/director Christopher Nolan opened a new chapter in the Batman film franchise by taking the legendary character back to his origins, re-imagining why and how the billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne became the enigmatic crime fighter known to the world as Batman. In “The Dark Knight” Nolan returns to the Batman saga with the character now, in the director’s words, “fully formed.”
Nolan continues, “I thought we left the world of Batman at an interesting place in the first film, and the end suggested an intriguing direction in which the story could continue.” Nolan developed the story with David S. Goyer, with whom he had collaborated on the screenplay for “Batman Begins.” Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, then partnered on the screenplay for “The Dark Knight.”
In “The Dark Knight,” Nolan says he focused more on how Batman’s very existence has changed Gotham City…and not, at least initially, for the better. “At the end of ‘Batman Begins,’ we hinted at the threat of escalation—that in going after the city’s crime cartels and attacking their interests, Batman could provoke an even greater response from the criminal community and now that has come to pass. There are some very negative consequences of his crusade brewing in Gotham City.”
Producer Charles Roven offers that the issue extends beyond Gotham’s resident criminals. “On the one hand, Batman has begun to rid Gotham of the crime and corruption that has plagued the city, but, ironically, the vacuum he created draws in an even more powerful criminal element, who see it as their chance to take over the city.”
Producer Emma Thomas notes, “In ‘Batman Begins’ we largely concentrated on the origins of the character—how Batman evolved out of Bruce Wayne’s own early trauma, his fears, his anger and, finally, his resolve to fight crime and corruption. In ‘The Dark Knight,’ Batman has become well-known to the police and citizens of Gotham City, but while some consider him a hero, others wonder if he is doing more harm than good. And the arrival of a new kind of criminal raises the stakes on that debate.
“What’s intriguing,” Thomas adds, “is that the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne—with his fabulous cars, a beautiful woman on each arm and not a care in the world—is not at all who this man really is. So while Bruce Wayne wears a mask to hide his identity as Batman, it is actually Batman who defines Bruce’s true identity, and the public persona of Bruce Wayne is the ‘mask’ he wears to co-exist in this world.”
It didn’t start out that way. Returning to the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Christian Bale asserts, “I believe Bruce thought it would be a finite thing, that Batman would serve as an inspiration to Gotham City and that he would eventually be able to leave this character he conceived behind. But he is coming to understand, more and more, that this is not something he can easily walk away from now…or possibly ever. There are new enemies to protect the city from.”
The most dangerous of these enemies is Batman’s most infamous nemesis—a maniacal, remorseless fiend known as The Joker. “The Joker is the ultimate screen arch-villain,” Nolan attests. “In his own way, The Joker is as much an icon as The Dark Knight is, and that presented us with both an opportunity and a challenge in terms of exploring the character’s distorted point of view. But we also wanted to create a villain who, as colorful and outrageous as he is, is still coming from a place of reality. In keeping with the tone we established in ‘Batman Begins,’ we determined he is a pretty serious guy, despite being called The Joker. So we began with the notion of The Joker as the most extreme form of anarchist—a force of chaos, a purposeless criminal who is not out for anything and, so, can’t be understood. He is not only a massively destructive force, but he also takes great delight in his murderous nature, which is a pretty terrifying spectacle.
“As the screenplay developed,” Nolan continues, “we started to explore the effect one guy could have on an entire population—the ways in which he could upset the balance for people, the ways in which he could take their rules for living, their ethics, their beliefs, their humanity and turn them on themselves. You could say we’ve seen echoes of that in our own world, which has led me to believe that anarchy and chaos—even the threat of anarchy and chaos—are among the most frightening things society faces, especially in this day and age.”
“The Joker is somebody without any rules whatsoever,” Bale states. “How do you fight somebody who is bent on destruction, even if it means self-destruction? That’s a formidable foe.” The actor goes on to say that The Joker’s total lack of morality is one of his most potent weapons in his war with Batman because, conversely, “Batman has a very strict moral code for what he will and won’t do, and The Joker can use that to his advantage. Batman still has this huge reserve of anger and pain and knows he could easily go too far, so he must not cross that line. He has to be sure that in chasing a monster, he doesn’t become a monster himself. Chris Nolan has raised interesting ethical questions in this movie about the complications of having power versus aspiring to power.”
Bale, who counts “The Dark Knight” as his third collaboration with Nolan, adds, “I think Chris has a great talent for satisfying the need for a rollercoaster ride, for just being purely entertained, without forgoing moments of great personal conflict and the duality within the characters. He manages to do both without compromising either.”
While The Joker wreaks chaos and fear, the crusading District Attorney Harvey Dent is the new face of law and order in Gotham City. “Harvey is a man of the people. He’s an all-American hero in a very different way from Batman,” says Nolan. “So now you have the triumvirate of Batman, Harvey Dent and Lieutenant Gordon—the justice system, the police and a vigilante—forming an alliance to bring down crime. Using Batman gives them an edge over the criminals, but it is still the police who will arrest them, and then they will be tried through the justice system. But what comes up is the question of whether you can bend the rules without breaking them. And that becomes the underlying theme of the story.”
The dynamic between the three crime fighters changes abruptly when an unforeseeable turn of events destroys the steadfast DA Harvey Dent and gives rise to the vengeful villain Two-Face. Nolan comments, “The hope that Harvey represents to Gotham City and then the tragedy of what happens to him and his transformation into Two-Face…it’s a remarkable story.”
The director observes, “The Joker is the more flamboyant villain, so he commands attention. But in some ways Harvey Dent/Two Face is the more compelling character because he has such an amazing arc. Our Joker has no arc, per se; he’s just hell-bent throughout. The Joker and Harvey Dent—these are two of the most fascinating characters from the Batman comic books. They have an almost mythic quality and it was exciting to view them through the prism of the world we created.”
In a groundbreaking move, Nolan broadened the scope of that world with a filmmaking first. Nolan shot six major action sequences with IMAX cameras, becoming the first director to use the large-format cameras to film even a portion of a traditional feature film. “In continuing Batman’s story, the challenge was to make things bigger and better—to expand the world we established in the first film, both through the story and in the way we presented it,” he states. “I was thrilled with the way the IMAX photography turned out. It throws the audience right into the action in a way no other film format could. It takes me back to when I was a kid going to the movies and experiencing the scope, the scale and the grandeur that great cinema can offer. As a filmmaker, I think you’re always trying to get back to that, and expanding the canvas of our story with IMAX seemed a great way to do it.”
The filmmakers have also made several changes to the world of Batman: Bruce Wayne’s familial home, Wayne Manor, burned to the ground at the end of “Batman Begins,” so Bruce now resides in a modern penthouse overlooking the city. Batman also has a newly designed Batsuit, which gives him more range of motion and a greater field of vision—“I can turn my head,” Bale smiles. And the agile and powerful Bat-Pod makes its much-anticipated debut as The Dark Knight weaves through Gotham City traffic in a pulse-pounding chase sequence filmed on the streets of Chicago.
Batman’s pursuit of justice also takes him on an odyssey halfway across the world to Hong Kong, marking the first time The Caped Crusader has left the confines of Gotham City on screen.
“Chris had a wonderful overall vision of what he wanted to achieve with this film, and he was able to accomplish that and more,” says Roven. “He’s one of those rare directors who, when he tells you what he’s trying to do, no matter how ambitious, you can rely on the fact that he will do it, usually even better than you imagined.”
“You either die a hero…
or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
“The Dark Knight” reunites several members of the ensemble cast from “Batman Begins,” leading with Christian Bale in the title role. Bale says he welcomed the opportunity to once again inhabit the solitary figure, who has had to relinquish much of his personal identity for the greater good. He offers, “Bruce is certainly sacrificing, both mentally and physically, as a consequence of this character of Batman whom he has unleashed and now is unable to rein in anymore. More than a persona, he has created a symbol, and that symbol can’t have limits. He can’t show weakness ever. So you have the conflict between what is good for Bruce Wayne and what is the right thing for Batman to do, because the two of them are not always compatible.”
“Working with Christian is a joy and just a lot of fun. He is a very engaging presence to have on the set,” says Nolan. “He also has an intensity about him; he is incredibly focused on tapping into the psychological reality of whatever character he’s playing. He applies the same disciplined approach to finding the truth of that character and sticks to it. That is a great help to me as a filmmaker because I know he is prepared and has a handle on how his character is going to move through the story. In fact, he has a lot of the same qualities that Bruce Wayne brings to bear in changing himself from an ordinary man into this extraordinary crime-fighting figure.”
“Christian brought everything to his performance that you could want for the character—the stature, the emotional resonance, the complexity,” Roven states. “It was amazing to be on the set watching him. He took his role to another level in this film.”
Nolan adds that although Bale portrays the same character in “The Dark Knight” that he did in “Batman Begins,” the two films presented the actor with very different challenges. “On ‘Batman Begins,’ it was a lot of physical effort—he had to get himself in terrific shape and learn all kinds of skills in terms of the way Batman fights, the way he moves. On this film, I would say it required more of an internal process because Bruce is realizing the personal toll of living this double life and is questioning the choices he’s made. Christian conveys that emotional struggle very convincingly, often without saying a word.”
Nevertheless, the role of Batman has an inherent physicality, so Bale immersed himself in a refresher course on the Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) that Batman employs against his enemies. A relatively young martial arts discipline, KFM is an intuitive fighting method with a strong emphasis on mental focus, but Bale also had to be in peak physical condition. He trained with Keysi fight coordinators Andy Norman and Justo Dieguez for two to three hours every day. “In KFM, you learn to develop every part of your body as a weapon, and it’s not easy,” Norman relates. “We worked Christian extremely hard, and it was fantastic how quickly he absorbed everything. There was a definite progression in his training since the first film. He understands KFM a lot better, so he was more powerful and his movement was incredible.”
“It’s a fascinating fighting method,” says Bale, “because it uses the adrenaline that everyone feels entering into a threatening or violent situation. It really comes from the gut. Rather than the kind of Zen calm that some martial arts call on, KFM is based on animal instinct and honing those instincts to be lethal, so it’s perfect for Batman.”
But The Dark Knight is about to confront a singular criminal called The Joker, who has little regard for Keysi or any other fighting method. In a fair fight, “Batman would obliterate him,” Bale asserts, “but The Joker doesn’t fight fair. He has other tricks up his sleeve, so it’s more of a mind game. But he finds in Batman a very worthy opponent, and I think he enjoys that.”
Heath Ledger plays the role of The Joker, the malevolent clown who is arguably the most recognizable of Batman’s arch-nemeses. In casting the part, Nolan says that the defining quality he was looking for “was fearlessness. I needed a phenomenal actor, but he also had to be someone unafraid of taking on such an iconic role. Heath created something entirely original. It’s stunning, it’s captivating…it’s going to blow people away.”
The director recalls that he first met with Ledger about the role even before there was a script. “We talked about how we saw this character and we both had exactly the same concept—that The Joker was about the threat of anarchy and revels in creating chaos and fear on a grand scale. Heath seemed to instinctively understand how to make this character different from anything that had ever been done before.”
Roven elaborates, “The Joker is one of the great villains in comic book lore—psychopathic, enigmatic, clever, diabolical, charming, funny and completely enjoyable to watch. We knew it would take an extraordinary actor to play him and Heath delivered on every front. From every physical nuance to each vocal turn of phrase, it’s just an unforgettable performance.”
In “The Dark Knight,” The Joker arrives on the scene without warning and climbs ruthlessly to the top of Gotham City’s criminal food chain. “We never wanted to do an origin story for The Joker in this film, but we wanted to show the rise of The Joker,” Nolan maintains. “In a sense, The Joker is the logical response to Batman, who has instigated this kind of extremity of behavior in Gotham.”
Bale adds, “The Joker wants to break Batman, to prove that everybody has a price and even Batman can be leveraged in such a way that he would compromise his principles. I actually think he’s delighted to find that Batman won’t do that, and it creates for The Joker an even better opponent in this game he’s playing. He’s a fascinating character, and Heath did an extraordinary job with it. I don’t think the movie would have worked as well if we hadn’t had an actor of the caliber of Heath Ledger, who was able to really up the ante, much as The Joker does in Gotham.”
“We wanted The Joker to represent pure, unadulterated evil, in the sense that he has no logical motivation for his actions. That is what we wanted to unleash on the city of Gotham. He is an absolute,” Nolan sums up simply.
Yet, Emma Thomas is quick to note, “He is very funny. I know it sounds somewhat bizarre, because how could someone so deplorable be funny? Heath’s take on the role was not campy but still hilarious, both physically and in a dry, sardonic way. With The Joker, I think you’ll find yourself being horrified and terrified, but hugely amused at the same time.”
On the other side of the law, another figure has risen to prominence in Gotham City: Harvey Dent, the newly elected District Attorney, who is on a mission to break organized crime’s stranglehold on his beleaguered city. Harvey Dent is played by Aaron Eckhart, who offers, “Harvey has charged himself with tackling organized crime and cleaning up the streets. He is the shining new hope of Gotham City, the ‘White Knight,’ as he is called. He starts out full of optimism and enthusiasm…where he ends up is somewhere completely different,” he hints. “It’s a great role and I’m a big fan of Chris Nolan’s, so when he approached me about doing the film, it was a no-brainer.”
Nolan says that while Eckhart looks every inch the part of the handsome and charismatic DA, his reasons for casting the actor ran deeper. “We were looking for somebody who could embody that All-American charm because you have to invest in him as a very attractive, heroic figure at the beginning of the movie. But he also had to have an edge; he had to suggest this undercurrent of anger and darkness that Harvey Dent needed to have, so where he goes in the story is believable. You can’t present a character like this as simply a heroic figure with no flaws, no dark side. Aaron captured all of those qualities very, very well.”
As the new Gotham City DA, Harvey Dent not only has to contend with a rise in crime, but also with a masked vigilante known as Batman. “It’s an interesting dynamic,” Eckhart remarks, “because Harvey sees Batman fighting crime in a way that he would like to but cannot. Harvey has to stay within the boundaries of the law. He has to do overtly what Batman is doing covertly. He admires Batman’s intentions, even if he can’t publicly support his methods. But what he thinks of Bruce Wayne is quite different. He sees Bruce as nothing more than a playboy about town without any real credibility.”
“Harvey thinks Bruce is a complete upper-class twit,” Nolan affirms. “It would astonish him to find out he is really the man behind the mask.”
Dent’s opinion of his public persona notwithstanding, Bruce Wayne appreciates the new DA’s efforts on behalf of the city. Nolan comments, “It seemed most logical to us that Bruce initially saw Batman as a short-term crusade, as a symbol to inspire the good people of Gotham to take their city back. In Harvey Dent, he finally sees the response he was looking for. Harvey is the hero that Gotham needs—the hero with a face, not one wearing a mask.”
But, Thomas says, “There is a certain amount of personal opportunism going on there, as well, because if Harvey Dent can succeed, then maybe Bruce can stop being Batman. Maybe there is a world in which he can return to a normal life. There’s a big part of him that does wish he could hang up his cape. Whether Bruce would actually enjoy hanging up Batman’s cape at this point, I don’t know. I don’t think even he knows. But there is definitely a part of him that feels he has started something that has spun out of control, and Harvey Dent may be his only hope for being able to end it.”
For Bruce Wayne, a chance for a normal life also means a chance for a future with the love of his life, Rachel Dawes, who now works for Dent as an assistant district attorney. In that regard, the DA is not a hope but a hindrance, because Rachel is involved with him not only professionally but romantically, as well. “When it comes to Rachel, there is a contradiction in Bruce’s feelings about Dent. While he does respect Dent, another part of Bruce just wants to knock him out,” Bale says only half-jokingly. “So Bruce’s ideological side and his very human side are again at loggerheads with each other.”
Cast in the role of Rachel, Maggie Gyllenhaal notes, “Rachel made the heartbreaking decision that it is impossible for her to be with Bruce as long as he is Batman. Then Harvey Dent came into her life, and she is crazy about him. I think the thing she really admires about Harvey, as opposed to Batman—or, rather, what Bruce Wayne is doing as Batman—is that Harvey is not a vigilante. He is not putting himself above the law for what he believes is ultimately best for the people of Gotham City. Instead, Harvey believes in the system, even if it’s broken, and he is going to work within the system to change things that are corrupt. I think that’s why Rachel loves him and thinks he is a hero in his own way. At the same time, she still genuinely loves Bruce and she obviously knows he is still in love with her, so it’s a real predicament.
“But for me, I mean it’s Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart and they are both pretty spectacular, so as an actress, it was easy to live with that predicament,” Gyllenhaal laughs. “My wanting to be a part of this film had almost everything to do with Chris Nolan and the rest of the cast. From the beginning, Chris was so engaging and so interested in my ideas about the role. He was clear that he wanted Rachel to be smart and capable and not the damsel in distress, although she is in distress sometimes. We were really good for each other because that’s very much what I wanted, and we pushed each other in different ways to make Rachel who she is.”
“Maggie is just a fantastic actress,” states Nolan. “I’ve always loved her work and had wanted an opportunity to work with her, and the role of Rachel in this film seemed like the perfect match. Maggie has great intelligence and maturity and she is also very warm and, of course, lovely. You really believe her in this role. I think she beautifully conveyed the conflict in Rachel standing between these two men in her life, and you can see why both men would naturally be drawn to her. Rachel has so much history with Bruce and he will always be in her heart, but she also loves Harvey and can see a future with him.”
However, that all changes in an instant when a shocking incident transforms the once redoubtable Harvey Dent into the horribly deformed Two-Face, who is now bent on one thing: revenge. “Something terrible happens that alters everything in his life and rage takes over,” says Eckhart. “He takes strength from his grief and his pain and sets out to kill the bad guys…or those he now perceives as the bad guys. He still wants justice, but now he pursues it outside of the law he once lived by. I don’t think of him purely as a villain in the way The Joker is. But at the point that Harvey becomes Two-Face, his outlook is so twisted that he starts to see The Joker as a kindred spirit…and The Joker knows he has Harvey where he wants him. It’s a great scene, and Heath did such a wonderful job. As an actor, it was exciting to work with him. Heath’s performance made this Joker an indelible screen character. He was everything you could want in an arch-villain as infamous as The Joker, and yet he was completely original.”
Nolan says, “The Joker is terrifying because there appears no rhyme or reason for what he does. He’s just a force of nature tearing through. With Two-Face, you see his transformation and you understand where his anger and his grief come from. Aaron did an extraordinary job of portraying the tragic arc of Harvey Dent and Two-Face; he takes you on that emotional ride with him.”
Apart from the obvious example of Harvey Dent/Two-Face, the director observes, “There are a number of dualities in this film, and there are also several mirrored relationships. The relationship between Batman and The Joker is an interesting one, as is the relationship between Harvey Dent/Two-Face and Lieutenant Gordon.”
Reprising his role from “Batman Begins,” Gary Oldman plays Lieutenant Jim Gordon, the head of the Gotham City Police Major Crime Unit (MCU). “Gary is such a remarkable actor,” Roven says. “Gordon could have been a comparatively straightforward role, especially surrounded by the more eccentric and even bizarre characters, but Gary brought so many colors to his performance.”
Nolan comments, “In the first film, Gordon was a very reserved character. It required an actor who could play an important role, but in a very subtle and restrained way. I was thrilled to be able to bring Gary back as Gordon, but in a story that challenges the character more and lets Gary show more of what he’s so great at.”
In “The Dark Knight,” Lieutenant Gordon is facing mounting pressure from all sides in the wake of the recent escalation of crime, but as a career cop, he knows his first, best option is to follow his gut instincts, which tell him to trust Batman. He understands that Batman now poses some danger to Gotham, but he believes Batman may ultimately be its salvation, especially with the arrival of The Joker. “The police have never encountered anything like The Joker,” says Oldman. “He’s not interested in money or even power, in the usual sense of the word. The Joker is all about chaos; he does what he does for the fun of it. How do you police someone like that?”
Thomas adds that in addition to being tested because of Batman’s efforts and the effect they are having on his city, “Gordon doesn’t entirely trust Harvey Dent yet because there has never been a politician in Gotham City who wasn’t corrupt in some way. He knows something must be done and decides Batman is his best bet because he knows Batman’s intentions and has faith that things will get better in the long run.”
Bruce Wayne has two other trusted allies in his life: his loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, who, since Bruce’s parents were murdered, has essentially been the only father Bruce has ever known; and the brilliant Lucius Fox, who is now the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, in addition to being the architect of Batman’s high-tech arsenal. Oscar-winning actors Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return as Alfred and Lucius, respectively, having played the same roles in “Batman Begins.”
As Bruce Wayne’s closest confidants, Alfred and Lucius know Batman’s true identity, but with that knowledge comes responsibility. Each in his own way also serves as a mentor, an advocate, and sometimes as Bruce’s conscience. “The bond between them is very clear, but you see the different sides of their relationships,” Nolan says. “Lucius Fox is fully aware of what Bruce is doing as Batman and approves to a large extent. But over the course of the film, we test the limits of what Lucius finds acceptable in terms of what Bruce does as Batman.”
Freeman notes, “I see Lucius as practical-minded in doing what has to be done in order to facilitate this man’s mission. Batman has set himself up as a champion of justice, and once he’s established that idea and the world is counting on him, he has to step up to the plate and deliver. But Lucius questions if there are limits to what he will do to help Bruce meet that challenge.”
On the other hand, Nolan says, “Alfred is a firm believer in what Bruce is doing and encourages him to take it even further if necessary, because Alfred believes it’s the right thing to do. Of course, Alfred is also concerned for the human side of Bruce because Alfred raised him from a boy, but he tries not to let his own fears for Bruce’s personal safety get in the way of telling him to carry on with his quest.”
Bruce Wayne tells Alfred that, as a symbol, Batman can’t have limits, but “to Alfred, Bruce is a real person and does, in fact, have limits,” says Caine. “Bruce is like his child, and you always see your children as kids, even when they are all grown up. So, of course, Alfred worries about what he is doing. I think of Alfred as Bruce’s guardian angel, not only physically, but psychologically and morally. There are real issues there, and Alfred often has a go at him about it. Alfred’s relationship with Bruce is the most human and also, I think, the most humorous,” Caine smiles.
The director says that Alfred’s humor comes naturally. “Michael is a very funny guy; I’ve never worked with an actor who could time comedy quite so effortlessly. He knows exactly what to do with a line to get the biggest laugh.
“Working with great veterans like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, I benefit massively from their experience,” Nolan continues. “They have a calm presence on the set that everybody responds to, and they just inspire everyone around them to be on their best game. It was a privilege to work with them in the first film and an honor to have them back for ‘The Dark Knight.’”
The film’s main cast also includes Eric Roberts as Maroni, one of the heads of Gotham City’s crime cartel; Chin Han as Lau, an Asian business mogul, who makes Gotham’s crime syndicate an offer they can’t refuse; Nestor Carbonell as the Mayor of Gotham City; and Anthony Michael Hall as a television news reporter. Cillian Murphy also makes a return cameo appearance as Scarecrow.
Overall, Nolan states, “The cast is a terrific ensemble of some of the most extraordinarily talented actors working in movies, which made it very exciting for everyone involved. It generated a great atmosphere on the set, and it was magical to watch actors with very different approaches come together and work so hard towards the same goals.”
“Will you be wanting the Bat-Pod, Sir?”
“In the middle of the day, Alfred? Not very subtle.”
On the screen, Lucius Fox gets credit for providing Batman with his state-of-the-art crime-fighting accoutrement, from his new and improved Batsuit to his weapons and his different modes of transportation. In real life, however, credit goes to Chris Nolan and his behind-the-scenes design teams, led by production designer Nathan Crowley and costume designer Lindy Hemming, as well as special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and his crew, who turn design into function.
Nolan remarks, “With ‘Batman Begins,’ we got to show how things like the Batmobile and the Batsuit were developed. At the same time, we didn’t fully explore all of the gadgetry, so in continuing the story, what we get to do is show how he becomes even more high-tech, but still in a credible way. What I love about Batman is that he has no super powers except for his extraordinary wealth. Looking at it from that point of view, if you had limitless financial resources, and therefore a lot of power in material ways, how could you apply that to the creation of some amazing gadgets and crime-fighting techniques, all of which are still based on real science and real-world logic?”
Nolan and Crowley had previously redesigned The Caped Crusader’s legendary Batmobile for “Batman Begins,” creating something of a cross between a Lamborghini and a Humvee. The ultimate muscle car, the Batmobile—nicknamed the Tumbler—combines the power and handling of a sports car with a structure closer to that of an armored tank. Riding on six monster truck tires, the Batmobile has no front axle, allowing it to make tighter turns. Despite weighing in at two and a half tons, it can jump as much as six feet high, and up to a distance of sixty feet, peeling off the instant it touches down. The Batmobile can also do zero to sixty in five seconds.
While the Batmobile remains a formidable presence in “The Dark Knight,” the film introduces Batman’s newest ride, the Bat-Pod, a high-powered, heavily armed two-wheeled machine. “Of course we were going to have the Batmobile back,” states Nolan, “but we wanted to give Batman something new: a fresh means of transportation, something very exotic and very powerful looking. It’s a two-wheeled vehicle, but it’s definitively not a motorcycle. In essence, the Bat-Pod is to the world of motorcycles what the Tumbler is to the world of cars.”
Fast and maneuverable through the streets of Gotham City, the Bat-Pod is also capable of handling all terrains. It has the same monster truck tires as those found on the Batmobile and is self-standing, meaning it does not require a foot stand. Well outfitted for hostile situations, it is equipped with weapons on both sides: 40mm blast cannons, 50-caliber machine guns, and grappling hook launchers.
The original design of the Bat-Pod was the brainchild of Crowley and Nolan. With little more than the basic concept in mind, the two retreated to their favorite design headquarters—aka Nolan’s garage—to work out the details. Crowley recalls, “We figured, ‘Let’s just go for it; let’s build it full-size.’ So we did. We got some tools and put together a full-size model out of anything we could find that might fit.”
Of course, Nolan and Crowley still had no idea if their invention could actually run. That’s where the special effects team, headed up by Chris Corbould, came in. Corbould relates, “First of all, I remember when Chris Nolan first showed me his idea for the Batmobile. I had no idea how we were going to make it work even though it ended up being very successful. So when I got his call asking me to come have a look at something he called ‘the Bat-Pod,’ I thought, ‘Uh-oh, what have you dreamt up this time?’”
Corbould flew to L.A., arrived at Nolan’s garage, and the first time he looked at Nolan and Crowley’s model of the Bat-Pod, “I think he was almost in tears,” Crowley laughs. “He looked horrified that he might have to actually mechanize that thing. We kept bringing him cups of tea, and he was just sitting there staring at it, looking like, ‘Oh my God, what time is the next flight out?’ It was the usual clash of design versus engineering.”
As it turns out, Crowley was not far off in his assessment of Corbould’s state of mind. “I was flabbergasted,” Corbould admits. “I stood there silently, pretending I was mulling it over, but the thought going through my head was that they both had to be off their nut. Where was I going to put a power train? And with those massive wheels, would this thing actually steer? There were so many issues.”
Despite his concerns, Corbould returned to London, where he and his crew began brainstorming ways to bring the Bat-Pod to life. After some trial and error, they developed the final working Bat-Pod, which was surprisingly close to the rough model that Nolan and Crowley had originally constructed. Nolan confesses, “It really shouldn’t work, but somehow Chris and his team found a way to do it.”
“The funny thing is,” Corbould says, “I don’t think Chris or Nathan had ever ridden a motorcycle in their lives, so they were completely unaware of the mechanics needed to get that thing moving. In a way it was beneficial because they weren’t steered towards a more orthodox bike, even subconsciously. The fact that they had no knowledge of the mechanics helped them create this weird, wonderful vehicle.”
Actually being able to drive it was another matter entirely. Nolan confirms, “The finished product that Chris and his team came up with was very striking, very effective and worked very well, but it’s incredibly difficult to ride and to steer.”
In order to maneuver the Bat-Pod, the driver has to lean his upper body forward, almost horizontally, and steer from his elbows, rather than his wrists. In fact, the only person who was able to master the Bat-Pod was professional stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy. Corbould offers, “I’ve worked with Jean-Pierre a couple of times, and he is one of the best bike riders in the world, if not the best. Right away, he totally got in the mindset of learning that machine. He said, ‘I’m not riding another bike until I finish this sequence,’ because he had to concentrate on the Bat-Pod’s unique handling qualities. I’d be lying if I said it was easy for even him to ride, but it looked spectacular when he did, so it was worth the effort.”
“I need a new suit. I’m not talking fashion, Mr. Fox, so much as function.”
“You want to be able to turn your head…”
The silhouette of Batman is an indelible image, instantly recognizable to even the most casual observer. Chris Nolan and costume designer Lindy Hemming knew it was important to preserve that image in redesigning and updating the Batsuit for “The Dark Knight.”
Focusing on increased comfort and better flexibility, Hemming and her team did extensive research into the protective suits worn by motocross riders, as well as military issue protective armor. “We wanted the new Batsuit to be a more supple, more maneuverable, more breathable piece of equipment, like a modern suit of armor instead of a rubber suit,” Hemming says, referring to the neoprene material used in making the Batsuit for “Batman Begins.”
The new Batsuit is comprised of 110 separate pieces. The base layer of the suit was made of a polyester mesh material, which is employed by the military and high-tech sports manufacturers because of its moisture-wicking properties. Then individually molded pieces of flexible urethane were attached to the mesh to form the overall armor plating. For added protection, carbon fiber panels, which are light yet incredibly strong and resistant, were placed inside a select group of the urethane pieces around the legs, chest and abdomen.
To illustrate the evolution of the Batsuit from “Batman Begins” to “The Dark Knight,” costume FX supervisor Graham Churchyard points out, “There were essentially three main components to the Batsuit in ‘Batman Begins’ and on this film there were more than 100, so it was a very complicated suit. Add to that, all of those individual pieces had to be modeled and then molded and cast. Each piece also had to be replicated dozens of times for the multiple Batsuits needed for the overall production. It was an extraordinary amount of work.”
At the behest of both Nolan and Bale, Hemming’s main mission was to modify the Batsuit to allow more rotation of the head and neck. “In the past, Batman has always had to move his shoulders to turn his head, so that was a definite priority,” Bale affirms. The seemingly simple answer was to separate the cowl from the rest of the suit, but it had to appear seamless so as not to compromise The Dark Knight’s imposing silhouette.
The overall redesign suited Christian Bale perfectly. “It was much more comfortable and far less claustrophobic than the first suit. It was also more agile and gave me better range of motion, which helped with the action and fight sequences. But it still gave me that feeling of invincibility,” he acknowledges. “You can’t help but feel protected and more powerful when you put the Batsuit on. It just works.”
When it came to fighting and protection, the new and improved Batsuit did more than offer added flexibility. It is also outfitted with a variety of gadgets to aid Batman in his war on crime, including razor sharp fins that can be extended and then fired from the gauntlets on his forearms; and sonar-imaging lenses which flip down within Batman’s cowl, enabling him to see sonar images in 3D while masking his eyes behind glowing white shields.
The only design element of the Batsuit that remained unchanged from “Batman Begins” to “The Dark Knight” was the cape. Hemming says, “We spent a lot of time getting the cape right for the first film, and we didn’t want to change it.” The cape does have one added feature: it can fold itself into a kind of backpack and then unfurl on command, which was accomplished through digital effects.
While Bruce Wayne’s image is not as iconic as that of his alter ego, he has his own distinctive sartorial style, dictated by his financial and social status. To clothe the man behind the mask, Hemming collaborated with legendary fashion designer Giorgio Armani. “Chris Nolan and I wanted Bruce Wayne to have an elegantly tailored appearance,” Hemming offers. “We felt that the Giorgio Armani brand was emblematic of the contemporary classic look we were going for. We chose the fabrics and then worked directly with Mr. Armani and his people to tailor an entire wardrobe of suits, custom-made for the character.” As Bruce Wayne, Bale wears Armani’s newest line, Giorgio Armani Hand Made-to-Measure. Each suit carries Armani’s traditional customized owner’s label, in this case Giorgio Armani for Bruce Wayne.
Harvey Dent obviously does not have the financial means of Bruce Wayne, but Hemming says his wardrobe still had to denote an air of authority and confidence. “We dressed him simply, but impeccably in suits by (Ermenegildo) Zegna.”
The costume designer was able to get a lot more outlandish in costuming The Joker, modifying the character’s familiar look to reflect the generation of the actor playing him. Hemming explains, “Once I knew The Joker was going to be played by Heath Ledger, I wanted the costume to have a younger, trendier style than previous versions. Basically, my research ranged from Vivienne Westwood to Johnny Rotten to Iggy Pop to Pete Doherty to Alexander McQueen. I was collecting all sorts of images.”
Hemming ultimately designed an eclectic ensemble that she says “has a somewhat foppish attitude to it, with a little grunge thrown in.” Staying with The Joker’s traditional color palette, his outfit is topped by a purple coat, worn over a green waistcoat. Changing up his look, he also wears a lighter jacket that was based on the Carnaby Street Mod look. His shirt was patterned after a shirt that Hemming found at an antique market.
The Joker’s shoes are from Milan and were selected by the costume designer because they had an upward swoop at the toe, which she thought was reminiscent of clown shoes. His tie was fashioned from a fabric that was specially woven to Hemming’s specifications by Turnbull & Asser, a London-based clothier better known for dressing British royalty and the like. “Heath wanted it to be thin, so it’s a ‘60s tie but in a Turnbull & Asser fabric. I dare say it’s the weirdest tie that Turnbull & Asser has ever made,” Hemming laughs. “When Heath came in and we showed him all the bits and pieces of the costume, he thought it was fantastically original and just went for it.”
The Joker’s make-up was also a departure from past incarnations of the character. While he retains an allusion to his familiar white-faced, sneering visage, his make-up for “The Dark Knight” was intended to give him a more frenetic look that also lends to its shock value. The Joker’s face is covered in a white pancake that is cracked and runny in places. His eyes are thickly rimmed in black, and a sloppy red grin is painted on, extending from his mouth to his cheeks but not quite masking the terrible scars beneath. His hair is a more subtle, but still noticeable, shade of green.
Make-up and hair designer Peter Robb-King remarks, “Clearly, there was a perception in the audience’s mind of what The Joker would look like, but we wanted to get under the skin, so to speak, of what this character represents in this story. He is someone who has been damaged in every sense of the word, so it was important that we create a look that was not, forgive the pun, ‘jokey.’”
Heath Ledger’s make-up artist, John Caglione, Jr., calls the application of the actor’s make-up “a dance.” He describes, “Heath would scrunch up his face in specific expressions, raising his forehead and squinting his eyes, and I would paint on the white over his facial contortions. This technique created textures and expressions that just painting the face a flat white would not. Then I used black make-up around Heath’s eyes while he held them closed very tight, which created consistent facial textures. After the black was on, I sprayed water over his eyes, and he would squeeze his eyes and shake his head, and all that black drippy, smudgy stuff would happen.”
The Joker’s make-up also represents a revolutionary advancement in the application of prosthetics, developed and executed by prosthetic supervisor Conor O’Sullivan and prosthetic make-up artist Robert Trenton. “They used a brand new silicone-based process that enables the prosthetics to be laid on the skin in such a way that it’s seamless,” Robb-King describes. “It’s absolutely amazing because you can put a camera right up to the face—even an IMAX camera—and there are no issues.”
O’Sullivan reveals, “It took us about two years to develop the technology, but after a few glitches, we hit on it. We are now able to produce silicone pieces that are applied directly to the skin. And it blends with the skin perfectly; if you didn’t know it was there, you would have a hard time seeing anything.”
In addition, the new process cut the application time to a fraction of what was needed in the past. O’Sullivan confirms, “The Joker prosthetics would previously have taken a good three to four hours. Instead they took about 25 minutes and looked far superior, which was great.”
The clown masks for The Joker’s gang were individually sculpted and molded and then hand-painted. Interestingly, the filmmakers learned that every clown face is registered and owned by the person who first created it, so all of the clown masks in the movie had to be cleared; none of them could be copied from existing clown faces.
The more graphic make-up effects for the character of Two-Face involved a combination of prosthetics and visual effects. Robb-King and his team worked closely with visual effect supervisor Nick Davis to depict the damage to Harvey Dent’s face, because it is so severe that it could not be achieved entirely with prosthetics. Eckhart recalls, “It was interesting for me in that, because of the technology, I didn’t have to spend hours in make-up every day. The whole process was effortless…at least for me,” he smiles.
“Using IMAX technology to shoot some of the action scenes gave us
the greatest possible canvas on which to tell the story,
and the result is an incredibly immersive experience.”
– Christopher Nolan
Production on “The Dark Knight” actually began several weeks ahead of the official start of principal photography. The cast and crew went on location in Chicago to shoot the opening prologue for the film: a dramatic bank heist that sets in motion the criminal rampage of The Joker. The advance scenes also marked a milestone in filmmaking as Christopher Nolan became the first director to use IMAX cameras to film sequences in a traditional feature film release. “I’ve always had an interest in shooting in IMAX,” Nolan relates. “I’ve seen IMAX presentations at museums and such and found the format to be completely overwhelming. The clarity and crispness of the images are unparalleled, so I thought if you could shoot a dramatic feature with IMAX cameras—not just blow up a 35mm film to show on an IMAX screen—it would really bring the audience into the action.”
Emma Thomas notes, “When you think about some of the IMAX films we remember: they’ve taken these cameras up Mount Everest, they’ve taken them under the ocean, astronauts have had them in space… So if they can do that, then surely we can shoot on the streets of Chicago with an IMAX camera.”
As with any “first,” Nolan and his longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, knew that filming on the streets of Chicago with IMAX cameras would come with its own set of challenges, beginning with the size of the cameras. “The cameras are enormous and much heavier than a 35mm camera,” Pfister confirms. “It required an entirely different approach, but like any challenge in moviemaking, you can’t be so intimidated that you shy away from it. You just bite off one piece at a time until you’ve tackled it.”
For Nolan and his crew, that first “bite” was shooting the film’s opening scenes. Pfister recalls, “The week that we spent shooting the bank heist sequence was like IMAX school for all of us.” They passed with flying colors. Filming the prologue with IMAX cameras not only met but exceeded all expectations, so the filmmakers made the decision to shoot several more scenes with IMAX cameras, including most of the major action sequences.
Pfister’s team had to find a way to rig the huge cameras to not only capture but also follow the action. They turned to the people at Ultimate Arm, the award-winning creators of the gyrostabilized remote control camera crane. The Ultimate Arm technicians were able to reinforce the head of the crane so it could handle the weight of the IMAX cameras. Pfister reveals, “We shot most of the Bat-Pod sequences with the Ultimate Arm, which allowed us to swing the camera up, down and all around the Bat-Pod and get some really stunning footage.”
Key grip Mike Lewis also crafted sturdier rigs that enabled the camera crew to mount the weighty IMAX cameras on the hood of a car, the side of a truck or anywhere else, as needed. All of the regular camera mounts had to be strengthened in order to handle the extra weight of the IMAX cameras. Nolan and Pfister also had high praise for Steadicam operator Bob Gorelick, who, Pfister says, “did a remarkable job of keeping that enormous camera in place.”
With advancements in technology on his side, the cinematographer assumed the sheer weight of the IMAX camera would preclude him from doing any handheld shots, but Nolan had other ideas. Pfister recounts, “Early in pre-production, Chris said to me, ‘You’ve got to try to handhold one of the IMAX cameras at some point just to say you did it.’ And I said, ‘No way! I am not putting that thing on my shoulder.’ But he kept nudging me and bugging me to try it, and finally I broke down and decided I had to give it a go. I actually did one handheld shot with the IMAX camera, running in front of a S.W.A.T. team into a building. More than getting the shot, I think Chris was really proud of himself that he was able to get me to do that,” he admits.
“We were able to utilize the IMAX format without having to compromise the way in which we would have filmed with smaller cameras. It didn’t slow us down in the slightest and it was pretty exciting to see it come together,” says Nolan.
In addition to the size and heft of the cameras, however, there were other factors that had to be addressed in incorporating the larger format film. “The composition of shots is entirely different because the frame is so much bigger, so you need to center things more to pull your attention to the action. And focus is much more critical because it is a shallower depth of field,” Pfister clarifies, adding that the larger size frame also had a direct effect on the lighting. “One of the most challenging things about filming in IMAX is trying to hide the lights. With the expanded frame, you’re seeing so much more from side to side and top to bottom so you can’t place lights where you normally would. You have to put them behind objects and anywhere else you can hide them.”
The size and clarity of the IMAX footage affected other departments, as well. Nathan Crowley notes, “Filming in IMAX is a great bonus to a production designer because you notice things you ordinarily wouldn’t even see. The perspective is huge. I mean, we purposely had a lot of low ceilings and beautiful shiny floors because they stay in frame. Then again, we also had to make sure the finishes were superb because you’ll also see every speck of dust on the floor,” he laughs.
Everyone agreed the end result was more than worth the effort of mastering the learning curve. “You can absolutely see the difference,” Pfister attests. “It’s sharper; it has more resolution, more contrast and a richer color saturation. It is an overall improved image, whether you’re seeing it on an IMAX screen or on a regular screen. I think the action will jump off the screen in any theater.”
“Continuing Batman’s story, we felt it was very important
to get outside and view Gotham as a major world city.”
– Christopher Nolan
With “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan sought to expand the world of Batman in a literal sense by moving the action from the confines of a soundstage to the expanse of practical locations. “We were looking for ways to expand the scope of this film, so I was determined to take the location filming much further than what we did on ‘Batman Begins,’” the director says. “The real world is built on a scale you could never reproduce in the studio.”
As it had in “Batman Begins,” the city of Chicago once again became Gotham City. “I spent some time growing up in Chicago,” Nolan offers, “so it’s a city I know and love. It is famous for its architecture and it is also a very film-friendly city. We shot there for weeks on ‘Batman Begins,’ but this time we were going to be there for months and the help and encouragement we got from the city was extraordinary.”
Chuck Roven confirms, “I can’t say enough about Mayor Daley, the Chicago Film Office and, most importantly, the citizens of Chicago, who could not have been more excited or more welcoming to us.”
“They gave us total cooperation and allowed us to do some unbelievable things on their streets, and we appreciated and always tried to respect that privilege.”
Inarguably, the most incredible thing the city allowed the production to do was unprecedented: flipping a 40-foot tractor-trailer, end over end, right in the heart of the city’s banking district on LaSalle Street. When Chris Corbould saw the truck flip described in the script, he admits, “I tried to make compromises with Chris—like maybe the whole truck doesn’t go over or maybe we could use a smaller truck—but he wasn’t having any of it.”
Nolan responds, “Finally I turned to him one day and said, ‘Chris, it really ought to be an 18-wheeler. And I know you can find a way to do this because that’s just who you are and that’s what you do.’”
The first order of business was to make sure the stunt was even possible. “After about six weeks of calculations, we were ready to do an actual test,” Corbould recalls. “We went out to an open space, got the truck up to speed and pressed the button, and it just sailed over. I had to go to Chris Nolan and tell him it worked perfectly.”
Nevertheless, the filmmakers were aware that there was a vast difference between flipping a truck in the middle of nowhere and doing it in the middle of a city street. Before they could carry out the stunt, city engineers were called in to make sure that the tons of force necessary to send the truck end over end would not damage the infrastructure of LaSalle Street, including the various utility lines that run beneath it. Once safe parameters were determined, the production was given the green light.
When the night of the stunt came, the truck flip went like clockwork, earning applause from the assembled cast and crew. “It was an impressive thing to watch this truck fly over and land precisely where Chris said it was going to land,” Nolan remarks. “At the top of its arc, it looked almost like a skyscraper standing there, and then it just continued going over very gracefully. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The film’s most explosive sequence involved the implosion of an entire building, which was staged at the now-vacant Brach’s Candy factory building. Corbould and his crew teamed with the company Controlled Demolition, Inc., headed by Doug Loizeaux, to create the explosion. Corbould offers, “Chris didn’t want the building to go down like a deck of cards, like a conventional demolition. I worked with Doug, who came up with a system to make the building go down more like a wave, in sequence. Then we added our special effects elements to make it more spectacular.”
For the filmmakers, safety was paramount. The main concerns involved surrounding street traffic, as well as active rail lines running nearby the building. The production contacted the railroad companies and coordinated the train schedules to ensure that no trains would be coming through at the time of the explosion. Adjacent street traffic was also blocked to keep onlookers and passersby from getting anywhere near the blast. In addition, the scene called for a bus to be in proximity to the explosion, so polycarbonate sheeting was placed on the windows of the bus to ensure that even if the windows broke, no glass would fly into the bus with cast members inside.
On location in Chicago, the filmmakers also took advantage of some of the city’s defining features, including its world-renowned architecture and multi-leveled streets. Nolan made good use of the parallel upper and lower roadways for the climactic car chase between The Joker, the police and Batman. The breakneck chase sent a variety of cars, armored trucks and one ill-fated 18-wheeler hurtling down such streets as Upper and Lower Wacker Drive, Lower Lower Randolph, Lower Lower Columbus and LaSalle Street. During the chase, the Bat-Pod even takes a side route through the newly remodeled train station under Millennium Park.
“The Dark Knight” marks Nathan Crowley’s fourth film in the Windy City, and the production designer observes, “The Chicago architecture is phenomenal; all of the great architects of the last century have worked there. And it’s wonderfully cinematic.”
Crowley chose two buildings designed by famed architect Mies van der Rohe for a variety of sets. The IBM Building was the site of the Wayne Enterprises Boardroom, Harvey Dent’s office, the Mayor’s office and the Police Commissioner’s office, while the lobby of One Illinois Plaza became the main living area of Bruce Wayne’s new penthouse.
Of course, utilizing the lobby level for the penthouse set meant that visual effects would be needed to create top-floor views of the city through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bruce’s bedroom was built separately on the 39th floor of Hotel 71 on East Wacker Drive.
Bruce and Alfred have taken up residence in the penthouse because Wayne Manor is still under construction after it was destroyed in a fire. Nolan comments, “At the end of ‘Batman Begins,’ Bruce says he’s going to rebuild Wayne Manor brick by brick. That would take a long time, so it would be pretty unrealistic for him to be already moved back in. And there was also a period in the comic books where Bruce Wayne did live downtown in a penthouse, so we took that as a jumping-off point. We wanted to have him in the city because this is very much a story of a city and we felt it was important to put Bruce in the middle of that.”
The penthouse was of a decidedly more modern design than Wayne Manor. Crowley explains, “We were given access to these great modernist floors, and we felt that era of architecture was better suited for what we were trying to convey emotionally. It’s cold and it’s vacant; there’s no warmth to the environment.”
Nolan adds, “Bruce is living a very lonely existence in a way, so the stark design of the penthouse was meant to reflect his state of mind.”
Filming in Chicago also took place at such locations as the Convention Hall at McCormick Place West, which became the vast warehouse of Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Science Division; Navy Pier, which was the site of a dramatic scene involving the panicked citizens of Gotham City; and the Old Chicago Post Office, which was employed for several scenes, including the opening bank robbery. In addition, the exterior of Chicago’s Trump Tower, which was in the early construction stage at the time of production, was used for a pivotal confrontation between Batman and The Joker. The interior of the building framework was carefully re-created in England at Cardington—the converted airship hangar that is now used as a soundstage—where the fight was actually filmed.
Rising out of the Chicago skyline, the Sears Tower was the site of a soaring exterior shot, and Christian Bale was not going to be denied an opportunity to stand atop the tallest building in the United States. The actor recounts, “I overheard my stunt double, Buster Reeves, saying he was heading up to the Sears Tower to do that, and I said, ‘Sorry buddy, no way. I just have to do this one myself.’ I mean, how often do you get to be 110 stories up, looking out over all of Chicago? But it’s a funny and probably quite dangerous thing,” he laughs, “how quickly I felt very at home out there and how soon I was able move around right on the edge, looking straight down.”
Far from being worried, Nolan supported his leading man’s decision to grab that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “Christian likes to challenge himself and I knew we weren’t putting him in any actual physical danger. It was perfectly safe; it just required guts to stand there. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it, but he seemed to enjoy it and it made a beautiful shot for us. And after that, standing out on a ledge on a building in Hong Kong must have been easy.”
“The Dark Knight” sends Batman to the Far East on a mission to bring down an international financial magnate, who is manipulating Gotham City’s most powerful crime cartels. The scenes were filmed on location in Hong Kong, primarily at the magnificent IFC2 Building, the tallest building in the city. “I liked the idea of sending Batman someplace more exotic,” says Nolan. “We had done that with Bruce Wayne in the first film, before he became Batman, but I really wanted to show the character of Batman outside the realm of Gotham City. I had been to Hong Kong many years ago at a film festival, and remembered it as a great location. It’s an incredibly visual place, which makes it ideal in cinematic terms.”
For some interiors, the production returned to Cardington, where one major set was constructed: the Bat-Bunker, which has temporarily replaced the Batcave while Bruce and Alfred are living in the penthouse. With its ceiling of solid fluorescent lights, the Bat-Bunker “looks like a giant light box,” describes Wally Pfister, “which obviously made it simple for me from a lighting standpoint.”
Crowley notes that as long as his home was in the city, Batman needed a new headquarters. “He can’t go to his Batcave, so we came up with the idea of a bunker that ties back to the architectural theme of the penthouse in that it’s vast but very plain. It is essentially a large concrete box where everything comes out of the walls and then goes back. But it still had to be visually interesting. It was all about proportion and perspective, which was actually great fun to do.”
Christopher Nolan reflects, “Every stage of making an enormous film like this presents its own challenges, but has its own rewards. It’s very exciting to travel the world and zoom around in helicopters and race the Batmobile around the streets of Chicago. Every now and then, I have to consciously remind myself to take a step back and realize that this is an extraordinary thing I am privileged to be a part of.”
Another critical design element of “The Dark Knight” is not seen but heard. “The sound design of the film was extremely complicated,” says Nolan. “There were an enormous number of elements encompassed in the sound mix and there are moments where it’s hard to detect what is sound design and what is music,” he asserts. “There are large segments of the film where we use little or no score. It was a major challenge for our sound designer, Richard King, and his team to create a range of sounds that would provoke the kind of emotional response that you would usually rely on music for. Then the end of the film is very heavily scored with music, but it develops as the action progresses.”
Composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, who partnered on the music for “Batman Begins,” reunited to compose the score for “The Dark Knight.” Nolan relates, “I like the score of the film to be an evolution that runs parallel to the editing of the film, and Hans and James have been amazing in accommodating that. Usually without even seeing final footage, they give me pieces of music that my editor, Lee Smith, and I take into the edit suite. It’s a very organic process that puts a lot of unusual demands on the composers, but they did a fantastic job with it.”
As they had on “Batman Begins,” Zimmer and Howard split duties on “The Dark Knight,” with Zimmer composing the theme for The Joker and Howard taking on the dual personality of Harvey Dent/Two-Face. They also made changes to the overall score, eschewing any heroic fanfares. Zimmer says, “I don’t see Batman as a typical superhero, so I wanted to avoid anything ‘super’ in the music. I kept thinking about the Bat Symbol. It is the iconic representation of Batman, but at the same time, it is dark and unadorned.”
“Batman is a very complex character,” Howard adds. “We’re still getting to know him, so to try and attach a musical theme to him that defines him in any way would be misleading.”
Nolan concludes, “For me, Batman has an enduring appeal and endless fascination because he is a relatable character. He is referred to as a superhero, but actually he is a self-invented superhero. And I think the fantasy of a man who, through sheer will and self-discipline, has turned himself into more than just a man, into a heroic figure…that’s just a very compelling myth.”
ABOUT THE CAST
CHRISTIAN BALE (Bruce Wayne/Batman) was born in Wales and grew up in England and the USA. He made his film debut in Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic “Empire of the Sun.”
Bale’s work to date also includes “Henry V,” “The Portrait of a Lady,” “The Secret Agent,” “Metroland,” “Velvet Goldmine,” “All the Little Animals,” “American Psycho,” “Shaft,” “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” “Reign of Fire,” “Laurel Canyon,” “The Machinist,” “Batman Begins,” “The New World,” “The Prestige,” “Harsh Times,” “Rescue Dawn” and “3:10 to Yuma.”
Bale just completed work on “Public Enemies” for director Michael Mann. He is currently filming “Terminator Salvation,” under the direction of McG.
MICHAEL CAINE (Alfred) is one of the film industry’s most esteemed actors, with a career spanning over half a century and encompassing more than 100 films and a myriad of acting honors. A two-time Academy Award winner, Caine won his first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, for his work in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” for which he also received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations. He took home his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in “The Cider House Rules,” also winning a SAG Award and earning Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations.
In addition, Caine has earned four Oscar nominations for Best Actor, the first coming in 1966 for his performance in the title role in “Alfie,” which also brought him a Golden Globe nomination and a New York Film Critics Award. He received his second Oscar nod, as well as a Golden Globe nomination and an Evening Standard Award, for the part of Milo Tindle in 1972’s “Sleuth.” His role in “Educating Rita” earned him his third Oscar nomination, and Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. He gained his latest Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for his work in 2002’s “The Quiet American,” for which he also won a London Critics Circle Award. He previously won Golden Globe and London Critics Circle Awards, as well as a BAFTA Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actor for “Little Voice.”
More recently, Caine won another London Critics Circle Award for his performance in 2006’s “The Prestige,” which reunited him with director Christopher Nolan following their collaboration on the 2005 blockbuster “Batman Begins.” Caine’s most recent film work also includes Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men,” and the 2007 remake of “Sleuth,” in which he turned the tables on his 1972 role, playing Milo’s adversary, Andrew.
Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in South London in 1933, the son of a fish market porter and a charwoman. His interest in acting began at an early age and, at 16, he left school and took odd jobs for local film companies, hoping to be discovered. When he was 18, he was called to do his National Service with the Queen’s Royal Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers. Upon his discharge in 1953, Caine began pursuing his acting career, taking his stage name from the title “The Caine Mutiny.” Starting out on the stage, he toured Britain in a variety of plays, and began appearing in increasingly better roles in British films and television shows.
In 1964, Caine landed his first major film role as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in “Zulu.” The following year, he starred in the hit thriller “The Ipcress File,” earning his first BAFTA Award nomination for his portrayal of secret agent Harry Palmer. However, it was his Oscar-nominated performance in the seminal sixties film “Alfie” that catapulted Caine to international stardom. In the late 1960s, he went on to star in 11 films, including “The Ipcress File” sequels, “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion Dollar Brain”; “Gambit,” earning a Golden Globe nomination; “Hurry Sundown”; “Woman Times Seven”; “Deadfall”; “The Magus”; “The Italian Job”; and “Battle of Britain.”
Over the following two decades, Caine starred in more than 40 films, including Robert Aldrich’s “Too Late the Hero”; “X, Y and Zee,” opposite Elizabeth Taylor; “Sleuth,” with Laurence Olivier; John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King”; “Harry and Walter Go to New York”; Richard Attenborough’s “A Bridge Too Far”; the Neil Simon comedy “California Suite”; Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” winning his first Oscar; Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill”; John Huston’s “Victory”; Sidney Lumet’s “Deathtrap”; “Educating Rita”; Stanley Donen’s “Blame It on Rio”; John Frankenheimer’s “The Holcroft Covenant”; Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa”; and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
Over the next 15 years, Caine starred in such films as the ensemble comedy “Noises Off…”; “Blood and Wine”; “Little Voice”; “Quills”; “Miss Congeniality”; “Austin Powers: Goldmember”; “The Quiet American”; and the Lasse Hallström films “Secondhand Lions” and “The Cider House Rules,” for which he won his second Oscar.
On the small screen, Caine earned both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the dual title role in the telefilm “Jekyll & Hyde” and for his portrayal of South African President F.W. de Klerk in the historical drama “Mandela and de Klerk.” He also gained a Golden Globe nomination for his work in the telefilm “Jack the Ripper” and an Emmy nomination for the docudrama “World War II: When Lions Roared.”
Also an author, Caine wrote an autobiography entitled What’s It All About?, as well as Acting on Film, a book based on a series of lectures he gave on BBC Television.
In the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Caine was awarded the CBE, and eight years later received a knighthood.
HEATH LEDGER (The Joker) was honored with an Academy Award nomination for his work in Ang Lee’s drama “Brokeback Mountain.” For his performance as Ennis Del Mar, Ledger also earned Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, and won several critics groups’ awards.
In 2007, Ledger was seen in Todd Hayne’s “I’m Not There,” for which he shared in a Robert Altman Award at the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards.
His previous film credits include “Candy,” “Casanova,” “The Brothers Grimm,” “Lords of Dogtown,” “The Order,” “Ned Kelly,” “The Four Feathers,” “Monster’s Ball,” “A Knight’s Tale,” “The Patriot” and “10 Things I Hate About You,” which first introduced the Australian-born actor to American audiences.
GARY OLDMAN (James Gordon) first played the role of Gotham Police Lieutenant James Gordon in “Batman Begins.” He also originated the role of Sirius Black in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and reprised the part in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
Oldman began his career in 1979 on the London stage. Between 1985 and 1989 he acted exclusively at London’s Royal Court Theatre and, in 1985, was named Best Newcomer by London’s Time Out for his work in “The Pope’s Wedding.” That same year he shared the London Critic’s Circle Best Actor Award with Anthony Hopkins.
In 1986, Oldman made his major feature film debut in “Sid and Nancy,” winning the Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his portrayal of punk rock legend Sid Vicious. The following year, he starred in Stephen Frears’ “Prick Up Your Ears,” winning the Best Actor Award from the London Film Critics Circle for his portrayal of doomed British playwright Joe Orton. He has since become one of the industry’s most respected actors, appearing in both mainstream hits and acclaimed independent films. Oldman’s early film credits also include Nicolas Roeg’s “Track 29”; “Criminal Law”; “Chattahoochee”; Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead,” for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor; “State of Grace”; “Henry & June”; Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” playing Lee Harvey Oswald; and the title role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula.”
Oldman’s subsequent film work includes memorable roles in Tony Scott’s “True Romance”; “Romeo is Bleeding”; the Luc Besson films “The Professional” and “The Fifth Element”; “Immortal Beloved”; “Murder in the First”; Roland Joffe’s “The Scarlett Letter”; Julian Schnabel’s “Basquiat”; Wolfgang Petersen’s “Air Force One”; the big screen version of “Lost in Space”; and Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal.”
In 1995 Oldman and manager/producing partner Douglas Urbanski formed the production company The SE8 Group, which produced Oldman’s directorial debut feature “Nil by Mouth,” which Oldman also wrote. The film was invited to open the 1997 50th Cannes Film Festival in the main competition, where Kathy Burke won the Best Actress Award for her role. In addition, Oldman won two BAFTA Awards for Best British Film and Best Screenplay; the Channel 4 Director’s Award at the 1997 Edinburgh International Film Festival; and the Empire Award for Best Debut Film. He also executive produced and starred in the SE8 Group film “The Contender,” which received two Oscar nominations and brought Oldman a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
On the small screen, Oldman earned an Emmy nomination for his guest appearance as an alcoholic actor on the hit comedy series “Friends.” His earlier television work includes the telefilms “Meantime,” directed by Mike Leigh, and “The Firm,” directed by Alan Clarke.
AARON ECKHART (Harvey Dent) earned Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his role as an unapologetic tobacco lobbyist in 2005’s “Thank You for Smoking,” which marked Jason Reitman’s directorial debut. Eckhart more recently starred in Brian De Palma’s fact-based murder mystery “The Black Dahlia”; the romantic comedy “No Reservations,” opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones; and the independent film “Meet Bill.” He next stars in Alan Ball’s “Towelhead,” which opens in limited release this fall, and “Traveling,” opposite Jennifer Aniston.
Eckhart studied theater and film at Brigham Young University, where he first met writer/director Neil LaBute and appeared in several of LaBute’s plays. In 1997, Eckhart first gained attention from film critics and audiences when he starred in LaBute’s first feature film, “In the Company of Men.” The controversial feature earned widespread acclaim and won a number of awards, including an Independent Spirit Award for Eckhart for Best Debut Performance.
Over the next five years, he starred in three more LaBute films: “Your Friends and Neighbors,” with Ben Stiller and Catherine Keener; “Nurse Betty,” with Renée Zellweger; and “Possession,” opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. During that time, Eckhart also received praise for his memorable performance as the love interest of the title character in Steven Soderbergh’s acclaimed 2000 biopic “Erin Brockovich,” opposite Julia Roberts.
Eckhart’s additional film credits include “Conversations with Other Women,” opposite Helena Bonham Carter; John Woo’s action drama “Paycheck,” with Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman; Ron Howard’s “The Missing,” with Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett; Jon Amiel’s “The Core,” opposite Hilary Swank; Sean Penn’s “The Pledge,” joining an all-star cast, including Jack Nicholson and Vanessa Redgrave; Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday”; and John Duigan’s “Molly,” opposite Elisabeth Shue.
On the stage, Eckhart theatrical credits include Michael Cristofer’s play “Amazing Grace,” opposite Marsha Mason.
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL (Rachel Dawes) has, in just the last few years, emerged as one of the film industry’s busiest leading ladies, earning praise for her work in both major studio releases and independent features. In 2002, she starred opposite James Spader in the provocative film “Secretary,” which premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Gyllenhaal’s performance in the title role brought her numerous honors, including Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations, a Boston Film Critics Award, and a National Board of Review Award. In addition, she won a Chicago Film Critics Award for Most Promising Performer, which also recognized her work in two other 2002 releases: Spike Jonze’s “Adaptation” and George Clooney’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”
Gyllenhaal received her second Golden Globe Award nomination, as well as several international film festival awards, for her starring role in the 2006 independent feature “SherryBaby.” That same year, she starred in Marc Forster’s acclaimed comedy drama “Stranger Than Fiction,” with Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah and Dustin Hoffman; Oliver Stone’s real-life drama “World Trade Center”; and a segment of the anthology film “Paris, je t’aime.” Gyllenhaal also lent her voice to the Oscar-nominated animated film “Monster House.”
Her other recent film credits include Bart Freundlich’s “Trust the Man,” with David Duchovny and Julianne Moore; Don Roos’ “Happy Endings,” with Lisa Kudrow; John Sayles’ “Casa de los Babys”; and “Mona Lisa Smile,” in which she starred with Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles under the direction of Mike Newell.
Also an accomplished stage actress, Gyllenhaal starred in the Tony Kushner play “Homebody/Kabul,” which ran in Los Angeles and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She had previously played the role of Alice in Patrick Mauber’s award-winning play “Closer,” first at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and then at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum. Her other stage credits include “Antony and Cleopatra” at the Vanborough Theatre in London.
Gyllenhaal was still in her teens when she made her feature film debut in “Waterland,” starring Jeremy Irons and Ethan Hawke. She later appeared in John Waters’ quirky Hollywood satire, “Cecil B. Demented,” which led to a co-starring role in the fantasy thriller “Donnie Darko.”
In 1999, while still pursuing her acting career, Gyllenhaal graduated from Columbia University, where she studied Literature.
MORGAN FREEMAN (Lucius Fox) won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” for which he also won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and received a Golden Globe nomination. He has been honored with three additional Oscar nominations, the first coming for his chilling performance as a homicidal pimp in the 1987 drama “Street Smart,” which also brought him Los Angeles, New York, and National Society of Film Critics Awards, and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He earned his second Oscar nomination and won Golden Globe and National Board of Review Awards for Best Actor for the 1989 film “Driving Miss Daisy,” in which he recreated his award-winning off-Broadway role. He gained his third Oscar nod for his performance in Frank Darabont’s 1994 drama “The Shawshank Redemption,” which also brought Freeman Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.
In addition to “The Dark Knight,” Freeman also stars this summer in the action thriller “Wanted.” He also has a wide range of films upcoming, including “The Code”; “The Lonely Maiden,” which he is also producing; and “The Human Factor,” which he will co-produce and star in, playing Nelson Mandela, opposite Matt Damon.
Freeman’s recent film work also includes starring roles in Rob Reiner’s “The Bucket List,” opposite Jack Nicholson; Robert Benton’s “Feast of Love”; Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”; “Lucky Number Slevin”; Lasse Hallström’s “An Unfinished Life,” with Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez; Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”; the Jet Li actioner “Unleashed,” written by Luc Besson; and the comedy “Bruce Almighty” and its sequel, “Evan Almighty.” He also lent his distinctive voice to Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” and the Oscar-winning documentary “March of the Penguins.”
His earlier film credits include “The Sum of All Fears,” “High Crimes,” “Along Came a Spider,” “Nurse Betty,” “Deep Impact,” “Hard Rain,” Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Se7en,” Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” “Glory,” “Lean on Me,” “Clean and Sober,” “Marie,” “Teachers,” “Harry & Son” and “Brubaker.”
In 1993, Freeman made his film directorial debut with “Bopha!” and soon after formed Revelations Entertainment. The company’s most recent production was the Brad Silberling comedy “10 Items or Less,” in which Freeman starred with Paz Vega.
The Memphis-born actor began his career on New York stages in the early 1960s, following a stint as a mechanic in the Air Force. A decade later, he became a nationally known television personality when he created the popular character Easy Reader on the popular children’s show “The Electric Company.”
Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in “The Mighty Gents” in 1978. In 1980, he won Obie Awards for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in “Mother Courage and Her Children.” Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer’s “The Gospel at Colonus” and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Driving Miss Daisy,” which brought him his fourth Obie. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” opposite Tracey Ullman.
Returning to the stage, Freeman is currently starring on Broadway with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odett’s drama “The Country Girl,” directed by Mike Nichols.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN (Director/Screenwriter/Producer) is an award-winning filmmaker who has been recognized for his work as a director and screenwriter.
Nolan began making movies at an early age with his father’s Super-8mm camera. While studying English Literature at University College London, Nolan shot 16mm films at UCL’s film society, learning the guerrilla film techniques he would later use to make his first feature, “Following.” The “no-budget” noir thriller enjoyed great success at a number of international film festivals, including Toronto, Rotterdam, Slamdance, and Hong Kong, prior to being released theatrically in the U.S., U.K., France and various other territories.
Nolan’s second film was the low-budget independent feature “Memento,” starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss and Joe Pantoliano, which Nolan directed from his own screenplay, based on a short story by his brother Jonathan. The film brought Nolan numerous honors, including Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, two Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and a Directors Guild of America Award nomination. In addition, he won Best Screenplay Awards from several critics groups, including the Los Angeles, London, Chicago and Broadcast Film Critics Associations, as well as the American Film Institute’s Screenwriter of the Year Award, and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Nolan followed “Memento” with the critically acclaimed psychological thriller “Insomnia,” starring Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. For that film, Nolan won the London Critics Circle Award for Best Director of the Year.
In 2005, Nolan co-wrote and directed “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. The blockbuster reimagined the Batman film franchise, pleasing critics and fans alike and paving the way for “The Dark Knight.
Nolan more recently directed, co-wrote and produced the mystery thriller “The Prestige,” starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine. Empire Magazine named Nolan the Best Director of the Year for the film, which also received Oscar nominations for its extraordinary art direction and cinematography.
Nolan currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, producer Emma Thomas, and their children.
CHARLES ROVEN (Producer) has enjoyed success as a distinguished producer of both independent and major motion pictures in a career spanning more than two decades. He is co-founder of Atlas Entertainment, which for the last 10 years was part of Mosaic Media Group, an integrated multimedia film, television and management company, in which he was a founding principal.
“The Dark Knight” reunites Roven with the team from the acclaimed blockbuster “Batman Begins,” which he produced in 2005. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, “Batman Begins” was number one at the box office for two consecutive weeks on its way to grossing more than $370 million worldwide.
In addition to “The Dark Knight,” Roven produced the recently released action comedy “Get Smart,” directed by Peter Segal and teaming Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway as Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. The film opened at #1 at the U.S. box office. He is also a producer on the dramatic thriller “The International,” set for release in early 2009, with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts starring under the direction of Tom Tykwer.
Earlier this year, Roven produced the critically acclaimed crime thriller “The Bank Job,” directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows, which opened at the top of the UK box office. His recent film credits also include the musical “Idlewild,” starring Outkast’s Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi); and “The Brothers Grimm,” directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.
Roven previously served as a producer on a broad range of films, including the $275-million-plus worldwide box office smash “Scooby-Doo,” followed by the sequel “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed”; the highly acclaimed post-Gulf War tale “Three Kings”; the widely praised romantic fantasy hit “City of Angels,” which earned $200 million at the worldwide box office; and Terry Gilliam’s “Twelve Monkeys,” starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in his Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe winning role.
Roven began his career as a talent manager, subsequently bringing an attuned sensibility for working with artists to the realm of production.
In 2008, Roven was honored with the ShoWest Producer of the Year Award for his contributions to the film industry.
EMMA THOMAS (Producer) is the producer behind such thought-provoking indie hits as “Following” and “Memento,” as well as several major motion picture releases, including the blockbuster “Batman Begins.”
Most recently, Thomas produced the critically acclaimed drama “The Prestige,” directed by Christopher Nolan. Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine starred in the story about an intense rivalry between two magicians who become obsessed with outdoing one another, leading to self-destruction and murder. The film earned two Oscar nominations for art direction and cinematography.
Thomas and writer/director Christopher Nolan are currently developing “The Prisoner,” based on the BBC show of the 1960s, and “The Exec,” both under the banner of their company, Syncopy.
Thomas studied at the prestigious University College London before beginning her career at Working Title Films in London, where she worked in physical production for five years. While at Working Title, she gained a solid foundation in film production, which would serve her well as she segued into producing.
The independent feature “Following” was the turning point for her career, marking her first film as a producer. Shot on weekends over the course of a year, “Following” was guerrilla filmmaking at its best. The film, which was shot on a shoestring budget, went on to gain recognition at film festivals around the world and received international distribution.
Thomas next served as an associate producer on the internationally acclaimed independent hit “Memento.” The film went on to win a number of awards, including an Independent Spirit Award, a British Independent Film Award, and several critics groups’ awards for Best Film. Continuing her success, Thomas co-produced her first major studio release, the hit thriller “Insomnia,” starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.
In 2005, Thomas produced “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, under the direction of Christopher Nolan. The film earned praise from both critics and audiences for its bold reimagining of the Batman film franchise, setting the stage for “The Dark Knight.”
JONATHAN NOLAN (Screenwriter) is currently writing the screenplay for “Interstellar,” a science fiction space adventure to be directed by Steven Spielberg.
Nolan was born in London and grew up in the Chicago area. His film career began when he wrote the intriguing short story “Memento Mori,” which became the basis for the acclaimed noir drama “Memento,” starring Guy Pearce. Directed by his brother, Christopher Nolan, who also adapted the screenplay, “Memento” brought Jonathan an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, both shared with Christopher.
He more recently co-wrote the screenplay for the mystery thriller “The Prestige,” about a bitter rivalry between two magicians with tragic consequences. Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson starred in the drama, under the direction of Christopher Nolan.
DAVID S. GOYER (Story) previously teamed with Christopher Nolan on the screenplay for “Batman Begins,” which won a Saturn Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Goyer has earned a stellar reputation for telling character-driven stories adapted from the otherworldly realms of superheroes, fantasy and the supernatural for the big screen. He is currently working on the supernatural thriller “The Unborn,” starring Gary Oldman and Odette Yustman, which he is directing from his own screenplay.
Goyer’s breakout came in 1998 when he wrote the action hit “Blade,” starring Wesley Snipes, based on the Marvel Comics vampire hunter who is, himself, half-vampire. He then wrote 2002’s “Blade II,” on which he also served as an executive producer. He directed, wrote and produced the last of the trilogy, “Blade: Trinity.” Goyer was also an executive producer on “Blade: The Series” for Spike TV, the network’s first original scripted series.
In 2002, Goyer made a departure from action genre films with his directorial debut, “ZigZag,” a poignant comedy featuring Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Natasha Lyonne and Sam Jones III. In addition to “ZigZag” and “Blade: Trinity,” Goyer directed last year’s supernatural thriller “The Invisible,” starring Justin Chatwin and Margarita Levieva.
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Goyer wanted to write comic books from an early age, which eventually led to his bringing them to life for the big screen. He sold his first action script at the age of 22 while still at USC, which became the Jean Claude Van Damme thriller “Death Warrant.” Among his other early credits, he penned the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film “Dark City.”
Goyer’s love of comic books also led to a four-year stint actually writing one for DC Comics. He is a co-writer of The Justice Society, which was one of DC’s biggest hits.
BENJAMIN MELNIKER (Executive Producer) has had a longstanding relationship with DC Comics. Together with his producing partner, Michael E. Uslan, he has been a part of all of the Batman film and direct-to-DVD projects, most recently serving as an executive producer on Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.” Earlier, he was an executive producer on the Tim Burton-directed movies “Batman,” starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and “Batman Returns,” starring Keaton, Michelle Pfieffer and Danny DeVito, followed by Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever,” starring Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones, and “Batman & Robin,” starring George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also produced the animated “Batman: Mask of Phantasm” and the Annie Award-winning “Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker.”
In addition, Melniker was a producer on Francis Lawrence’s thriller “Constantine,” based on the DC Comics/Vertigo Hellblazer graphic novels and starring Keanu Reeves. He was also an executive producer on “Catwoman” and an associate producer on “National Treasure.”
Currently, Melniker is executive producing the action thriller “The Spirit,” based on the comic book by Will Eisner. Directed by Frank Miller and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, the film is due out this holiday season.
Melniker began his film career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and worked with the esteemed studio for 30 years: he was Executive Vice President of the company, a member of its Board of Directors and its Executive Committee, and Chairman of its Film Selection Committee. During his tenure at MGM, he was also involved with some of the most memorable films ever made, including “Ben-Hur,” starring Charlton Heston; David Lean’s “Dr. Zhivago”; Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”; and the musical “Gigi,” directed by Vincente Minnelli.
In 1975, Melniker executive produced his first film, the action drama “Mitchell,” followed by the 1976 thriller “Shoot,” starring Cliff Robertson and Ernest Borgnine.
Melniker has also achieved success in the world of television, with credits including the children’s series “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?,” for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Children’s Program; “Harmful Intent,” based on the book by Robin Cook; the series “Fish Police,” “Swamp Thing” and “Dinosaucers”; and the acclaimed PBS miniseries “Three Sovereigns for Sister Sarah,” based on the true story of the Salem Witch Trials.
MICHAEL E. USLAN (Executive Producer) has enjoyed a long association with DC Comics. Together with his longtime producing partner, Benjamin Melniker, Uslan has been involved in all of the films in the Batman franchise, as well as other film and direct-to-DVD projects based on DC Comics titles.
He was recently an executive producer on Christopher Nolan’s hit “Batman Begins” and produced the thriller “Constantine,” starring Keanu Reeves under the direction of Francis Lawrence. Prior to that, he served as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” starring Michael Keaton, followed by “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin,” both directed by Joel Schumacher. His other credits as an executive producer include “Catwoman,” and the animated titles “Gotham Knight,” “Batman: Sub-Zero,” “Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman,” “Batman v. Dracula,” “Batman: Mask of The Phantasm,” and “Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker,” for which he won an Annie Award. Additionally, he was an associate producer on the blockbuster “National Treasure.”
Uslan is currently producing the upcoming action thriller “The Spirit,” based on the comic book by Will Eisner. Due out this holiday season, the film is directed by Frank Miller and stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes.
Also a successful television producer, Uslan won an Emmy Award for the popular children’s series “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?” which he executive produced. His additional television producing work includes “Harmful Intent,” based on Robin Cook’s novel, and the acclaimed PBS miniseries “Three Sovereigns for Sarah,” based on the true story of the Salem Witch Trials.
Uslan grew up on comics and actually learned to read from them. He went on to become a renowned authority on comic book history and, at Indiana University, taught the world’s first accredited college course on comic books, also writing the accompanying textbook The Comic Book in America. It was not long before he received a job offer from DC Comics, where he fulfilled his dream to write Batman comic books.
Uslan has since written for a number of comic titles, as well as dozens of books that chronicle the history of comics, including America At War – A History of War Comics, Mysteries in Space – A History of Science Fiction Comics, and The Pow! Zap! Wham! Comic Book Trivia Quiz Book. His additional writing credits include the internationally syndicated newspaper comic strip Terry and the Pirates; the historic comic book project with Stan Lee, Just Imagine; the hardback Batman graphic novel, Detective #27; Will Eisner’s The Spirit; and Dick Clark’s The First 25 Years of Rock and Roll.
KEVIN DE LA NOY (Executive Producer) was most recently an executive producer on “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou, under the direction of Edward Zwick. He had earlier collaborated with Zwick as the unit production manager on “The Last Samurai.”
His producing credits also include Richard Donner’s sci-fi thriller “Timeline,” which he co-produced, and Steven Spielberg’s award-winning World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan,” on which he served as the associate producer.
In addition, he has been the unit production manager on such hits as “Ali,” “Titanic,” “Braveheart,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Mission: Impossible II.” His film work also includes serving as the production supervisor on “The Power of One” and as the location manager on such films as “The Ghost and the Darkness,” “Black Beauty,” “The Secret Garden” and “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” He has also worked as an assistant director on a wide range of features.
THOMAS TULL (Executive Producer) is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, a private equity-backed film production company with more than $1.5 billion in total financing. Legendary Pictures recently re-upped its five-year deal through which it will co-produce and co-finance films with Warner Bros. Pictures. Since its inception in 2005, Legendary has joined with Warner Bros. to make such successful films as “Batman Begins,” “Superman Returns” and the blockbuster “300.” Their impending projects include “Watchmen,” directed by Zack Snyder.
Tull engineered the unique private equity-backed structure of Legendary and was presented IDD Magazine’s prestigious “Deal of the Year” Award for the entertainment industry in 2005.
Tull is also a co-founder and Vice Chairman of the video game publisher Brash Entertainment, for which he secured the financing by arranging a $400 million investment. To date, the company has secured intellectual properties with five major studios and has a current collection of over 40 licenses, including several original properties.
Previously, Tull was President and served on the Board of Directors of The Convex Group, a media and entertainment holding company headquartered in Atlanta. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of How Stuff Works, a company the Convex Group acquired during his term, which was later sold to Discovery Networks. Prior to Convex, Tull was a principal at the Southeast Interactive Technology Funds.
Tull is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute (AFI). He is also a board member of the San Diego Zoo and serves on their Foundation Board for the Zoological Society of San Diego. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1992.
WALLY PFISTER (Director of Photography) has earned two consecutive Academy Award nominations for his work with director Christopher Nolan. The first came for 2005’s “Batman Begins,” for which he was also honored by his peers with an American Society of Cinematographers Award nomination. The following year, he was Oscar-nominated for his cinematography work on “The Prestige.” Pfister had earlier received an Independent Spirit Award for his work on Nolan’s “Memento,” which marked their first collaboration. He also served as director of photography on Nolan’s thriller “Insomnia.”
Pfister’s additional film credits include “The Italian Job,” directed by F. Gary Gray, and the independent features “Slow Burn,” “Laurel Canyon,” “Scotland, PA,” and “The Hi-Line,” for which he won the Moxie! Award for Best Cinematographer at the Santa Monica Film Festival.
For the small screen, Pfister served as the director of photographer on such telefilms as “Sanctuary,” “Sharing the Secret,” “Breakfast with Einstein,” “Rhapsody in Bloom” and “Sketch Artist.”
NATHAN CROWLEY (Production Designer) has been honored for his collaborations with director Christopher Nolan. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his design work on the period drama “The Prestige,” and previously received a BAFTA Award nomination for “Batman Begins.” In addition, Crowley garnered Art Directors Guild Award nominations for both films. He first teamed with Nolan on the director’s crime thriller “Insomnia,” starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.
Crowley’s other film credits include the romantic drama “The Lake House”; the biopic “Veronica Guerin,” directed by Joel Schumacher; the war drama “Behind Enemy Lines”; and Barry Levinson’s Ireland-set comedy “An Everlasting Piece.”
He previously served as an art director on such films as “Mission: Impossible II,” directed by John Woo; Richard Donner’s “Assassins”; Alan J. Pakula’s “The Devil’s Own”; and “Braveheart,” directed by and starring Mel Gibson.
In addition to his film work, Crowley was the production designer on the BBC television series “The Ambassador.”
LEE SMITH (Editor) reunited with director Christopher Nolan on “The Dark Knight,” having previously edited “Batman Begins” and “The Prestige.” Smith has also enjoyed a long association with director Peter Weir, earning an Academy Award nomination for his editing work on Weir’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” for which he also received an Eddie Award nomination from the American Cinema Editors. Smith had earlier served as editor and sound designer on Weir’s “The Truman Show,” “Fearless” and “Green Card”; an additional editor on “Dead Poets Society”; and an associate editor and sound designer on “The Year of Living Dangerously,” which began their collaboration.
Hailing from Australia, Smith won an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Editing on Gregor Jordan’s “Two Hands,” on which he was also the sound designer. For his work as a sound designer, he also won an AFI Award and earned a BAFTA Award nomination for Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” and won an AFI Award for Phillip Noyce’s “Dead Calm.”
As an editor, Smith’s additional film credits include “The Rage in Placid Lake,” “Black and White,” “Buffalo Soldiers,” “Risk,” “Joey,” “Robocop 2,” “Communion” and “Howling III.” He was also the sound designer on Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women.”
LINDY HEMMING (Costume Designer) won an Academy Award for her Gilbert & Sullivan-era costume designs for “Topsy-Turvy,” directed by Mike Leigh. She has also been Leigh’s costume designer of choice on the films “Naked,” “Life is Sweet” and “High Hopes.”
Hemming previously collaborated with director Christopher Nolan on “Batman Begins.” She has also served as the costume designer on the recent James Bond films, beginning in 1995 with “GoldenEye,” directed by Martin Campbell, and continuing with Roger Spottiswoode’s “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Michael Apted’s “The World is Not Enough,” Lee Tamahori’s “Die Another Day” and Campbell’s “Casino Royale.” She is currently working with Campbell on the feature “Edge of Darkness,” starring Mel Gibson.
Hemming’s extensive film credits also include “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and its sequel, “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”; “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” directed by Chris Columbus; Sally Potter’s “The Man Who Cried”; “The Trench,” starring Daniel Craig; Mark Herman’s “Little Voice” and “Blame It on the Bellboy”; “The Brave,” directed by and starring Johnny Depp; Bob Rafelson’s “Blood and Wine”; Peter Chelsom’s “Funny Bones” and “Hear My Song”; Mike Newell’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” for which she was nominated for a BAFTA Award; Stephen Gyllenhaal’s “Waterland”; Peter Medak’s “The Krays”; John Amiel’s “Queen of Hearts”; Stephen Frears’ “My Beautiful Laundrette”; David Hare’s “Wetherby”; Richard Eyre’s “Laughterhouse”; and Bill Forsyth’s “Comfort and Joy.”
Hemming was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for her work on the telefilm “Porterhouse Blue.” Her television credits also include the longform projects “Running Late,” “Dancing Queen” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”
Prior to designing costumes for the screen, Hemming was a costume designer in the theatre. She worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Great Britain, and on many productions in London’s West End.
HANS ZIMMER (Composer) is one of the film industry’s most influential composers, whose career spans three decades and encompasses well over 100 films.
In 1994, he won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his score to the animated blockbuster “The Lion King,” which also spawned one of the most successful soundtrack albums ever. Zimmer’s music for “The Lion King” continues to draw applause in the award-winning stage production of the musical, which earned the 1998 Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. The musical has now been running on Broadway for more than 10 years, with productions also being staged around the world.
Zimmer has garnered six additional Academy Award nominations for his scores for “Gladiator,” “The Thin Red Line,” “The Prince of Egypt,” “As Good as It Gets,” “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Rain Man.” In addition, he won a Golden Globe Award and earned a Grammy nomination for “Gladiator,” and has also received Golden Globe nominations for his composing work on “The Da Vinci Code,” “Spanglish,” “The Last Samurai,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” “Pearl Harbor” and “The Prince of Egypt.”
Zimmer most recently created the score for the animated feature “Kung Fu Panda,” and is currently working on Ron Howard’s real-life drama “Frost/Nixon” and the animated “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Zimmer’s long list of film credits goes on to include “The Simpsons Movie,” “The Holiday,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Batman Begins,” “Madagascar,” “Matchstick Men,” “Shark Tale,” “Black Hawk Down,” “The Ring,” “Hannibal,” “Crimson Tide,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Mission: Impossible II,” “A League of Their Own,” “Black Rain,” “Backdraft,” “True Romance” and “My Beautiful Launderette.”
In addition to his myriad composing credits, Zimmer has served as a music producer or consultant on numerous films, most recently including the blockbuster “Iron Man,” on which he was the executive music producer.
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (Composer) is a seven-time Academy Award nominee and one of the industry’s most prolific composers, with more than 100 motion picture and television scores to his credit. His latest Oscar nomination came for his score for the critically acclaimed drama “Michael Clayton,” starring George Clooney. Howard also earned Oscar nominations for Best Original Score for M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village,” P.J. Hogan’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” Andrew Davis’ “The Fugitive” and Barbra Streisand’s “The Prince of Tides.” He gained two more Oscar nods, as well as two Golden Globe nominations, in the category of Best Original Song, for “Look What Love Has Done” from the movie “Junior” and “For the First Time” in “One Fine Day.” Howard received his third Golden Globe nomination for his score for Peter Jackson’s hit remake of “King Kong.”
Howard has scored all of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, beginning with the director’s smash hit debut feature, “The Sixth Sense,” and subsequently including “Unbreakable,” “Signs,” “Lady in the Water” and, most recently, “The Happening.”
He is currently scoring several upcoming films, including Edward Zwick’s “Defiance” and P.J. Hogan’s “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Howard’s wide range of film credits also includes Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters”; Mike Nichols’ “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond”; Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”; Sydney Pollack’s “The Interpreter”; Michael Mann’s “Collateral”; Joe Johnston’s “Hidalgo”; P.J. Hogan’s “Peter Pan”; Joe Roth’s “America’s Sweethearts”; Garry Marshall’s “Runaway Bride” and “Pretty Woman”; Gregory Hoblit’s “Primal Fear”; Wolfgang Petersen’s “Outbreak”; Lawrence Kasdan’s “Wyatt Earp” and “Grand Canyon”; Ivan Reitman’s “Dave”; Joel Schumacher’s “Falling Down”; and David S. Ward’s “Major League,” to name only a portion.
Also honored for his work in television, Howard won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme for the series “Gideon’s Crossing” and earned an Emmy nomination in the same category for the long-running series “ER.”