Compiled by: Jack Foley
Excerpts taken from the London press conference held
at The Dorchester Hotel
Q. When was a decision reached to actually start again
from scratch - to go back to the beginning?
A. Well, I think, for the studio, I think they’d
been thinking about it for sometime, thinking about ways to reintroduce
the character into cinemas and… the point at which I got
interested in becoming involved, they didn’t seem to have
a specific idea of how to do that. They were looking for a fresh
approach and it seemed to me that to tell the origin of the story
would be pretty fascinating because it’s a story that’s
never been told on-screen and hasn’t really even definitively
been addressed in any of the comics. It’s a story that’s
always been treated in kind of montage and flashback in the past.
We wanted to flesh that out and tell the whole story.
Q. I think this is the first time that it hasn't felt
as though Batman has been a guest star in his own movie. You know,
the villains have always been more charismatic than Batman. That
presumably was the attraction to you in doing this?
A. Well, for me, Batman is the most interesting character
in the film and I felt that it would be perfectly possible to
have interesting and colourful villains who wouldn’t overshadow
the focus of the film.
I think in my mind I was thinking about the best of the Bond films,
where there have been some wonderful villains, criminal masterminds,
but they’ve never got in the way of the focus of the story
and I felt we could do something similar here.
Q. There are so many great characters in the film played
by so many great actors. How was it, as a director, having to
deal with all of those different personalities, be it Sir Michael
Caine or Morgan Freeman or Gary Oldman etc. etc? Do you have to
have some kind of a schizophrenic frame of mind to deal with all
these people, or is it just part and parcel of being a director?
A. Interesting. [Laughs]. No, for me, part of being a
director is trying to figure out what an actor you’re working
with requires from you because I think every actor is different
and has unique requirements.
I think as far as this film goes, it was a very large film with
a lot of things going on and the actors would come and go –
other than Christian, who was sort of there the whole time and
had to be in everything.
But other people would come and go, and do a few days here and
there which was quite nice and refreshing for everybody.
You know, Sir Michael would turn up and raise everyone’s
spirits a little bit and then Morgan would come and it sort of
keeps everybody going to have a lot of different personalities
coming and going.
The thing I’ve always noticed from great actors - and I’ve
been very fortunate to work with a lot of great actors - is how
naturally and easily they accommodate one another’s needs.
Even though their performing styles are maybe very different,
and the way you would expect them to approach a scene might be
very different, they seem effortlessly to be able to mesh with
the other performers and I think that’s part of their talent.
So I found it very helpful to have so many great creative allies
on the set because the other thing a great actor will do is they
have an entire life for their character off-screen. They’ve
worked out their character’s place in the world of the story
as well, and they became very, very useful creative allies for
me and made my job a lot easier.
Q. Why was the decision made to shoot in Britain as opposed
to shooting in the States or Canada, as a lot of films do these
A. Well, I think there are a lot of different reasons
but from my point of view I’d always talked to the studio
about achieving a degree of texture and reality to the film and
doing a certain amount of location shooting in an American city
and then studio work elsewhere.
The model I’d been looking at, that I first discussed with
Warner Brothers, was the 1978 Superman that Richard Donner made.
They did a certain amount of location shooting in New York for
that film but everything else was done over here at Pinewood Studios.
So we created a model of the idea of shooting at Shepperton Studios
and certain London locations and then going to an American city,
which turned out to be Chicago, which is a city I knew from having
lived there as a kid, and that was sort of it for me - the jumping-off
I was looking back to a great era of blockbuster filmmaking from
the late 70s where, I think, Hollywood films were doing some really
marvellous escapist entertainment on a grand scale. All of those
films were done over here, you know, such as Raiders of the Lost
Ark, the first Star Wars, Superman, etc.
So I think for me, it was a fairly natural thing to just look
at that model of doing things.
Q. You’ve stated on several occasions that you
wanted to ground this film in a more realistic look. But we’re
talking about a guy who disguises himself as a bat to fight terrorism.
Why did you feel that you had to give it a realistic look when
the story is just a comic book?
A. To say the story is just a comic book is to sort of
miss the whole point really.
But accepting that point, when you talk about realism in films,
you’re talking about issues of texture and look as much
as anything more substantial. For me, really, the idea of grounding
the film in reality is about making the audience believe in the
events of the story more and I think that the more people are
invested in the story, both in terms of character and in terms
of the actual events and the physicality of what’s going
on, if those things can be believed in, I think the narrative
effects of the story are amplified. So, to me, it’s all
really about creating the most involving experience possible.
Q. What made you choose Ms
Holmes and Mr Bale?
A. I chose Christian to play Batman based on the idea
that in trying to create a realistic version of the story you
need an actor like Christian who has sufficient intensity and
focus in his eyes to make you believe in the idea that somebody
without superpowers - and Bruce Wayne has no superpowers - could,
through sheer force of will, change himself into a superhero.
It was very clear to me, from his other performances and from
meeting him in person, that Christian has the ability to project
that kind of intensity and that’s why I asked him to do
What I was looking for in the character of Rachel was somebody
who would be a constant reminder to Bruce Wayne of the life that
has been denied him, so I needed somebody with tremendous warmth
and great emotional appeal.
But Katie also has a maturity beyond her years that comes across
in the film and is essential to the idea that Rachel is something
of a moral conscience for Bruce.
Q. Have you had any feedback at all from Adam West or
Val Kilmer or George Clooney? And in the sequel, will we get some
love action at all between Bruce and Rachel?
A. I haven’t actually had any feedback from any
of the former Batmen, so I don’t really have anything to
say on that score.
As far as sequels go, while the film certainly leaves things open-ended
as far as possibilities for the characters and so forth, I think
I’m just interested to know what people think of this one.
We really tried to put everything we can into this film and it
has to stand alone.
Q. I believe Christian Bale said that he likes the idea
of doing two different types of the same film, one perhaps a little
bit grittier, R-rated. Is this something that there’s scope
to do for a DVD release?
A. The film you’ve seen up on screen is exactly
the film that we made. There really isn’t anything that
I was forced to take out.
As far as tonally, I always knew that in making a Batman film,
I wanted it to appeal to a wide range of ages, not the youngest
I think what we’ve done is probably a bit intense for them
but I certainly didn’t want to exclude the sort of ten to
12-year olds because as a kid I would have loved to have seen
a movie like this.
So, we never really shot anything that would be alienating in
that regard. So there isn’t anything to put in on the DVD.
Q. You mentioned the Donner version of Superman is a
model in terms of your shooting plan. I wonder if that was also
a model in terms of the casting, because like that film you’ve
got great actors all the way down to the smallest part...
A. Yeah, very much. I actually spoke specifically to
the studio about coming up with what we talked about as an epic
cast, because we wanted Batman to have an epic treatment, other
than big sets and big explosions and all that kind of stuff.
What really makes a film have that marvellous scale is having
a wonderful cast of the finest actors and recognisable faces playing
even some of the smallest roles, so that there’s a life
off screen for all of these characters and there’s a scope
to the story.
In Superman, Donner had Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Glenn
Ford and it was an extraordinary ensemble, so that was very much
what we were aspiring to.
So we sort of dared to ask some of the finest actors to take on
these roles and I was able to put together a dream cast. It's
no less than Batman deserves, really.
Q. This installation of the Batman franchise represents
a complete departure from your previous films, Following and Memento.
What comes next for you? Might you be returning to smaller films,
or can we anticipate more blockbusters?
A. I really haven’t been able to focus on what
I’ll be doing next yet because, frankly, the release of
this film is very overwhelming.
It’s a much larger film than I’ve ever done before.
So this is a very new process to me.
I think in the future I’ll be interested in doing all sorts
of films. I mean, I’ve enjoyed making a film on this scale,
so I would absolutely be open to it again but at the same time
I have various projects with different sizes of story, if you
Q. In the last sequence of the film there’s a hint
that there’ll be a next film with The Joker. Does that mean
that you are really intending to do a remake of the film that
was done 15 years ago with Jack Nicholson? Because, to me, it
doesn’t feel logical that this film will have that other
film as a logical sequel. It’s so different in tone, so
over the top, that other one...
A. Well, with respect, I think you’re probably
over-thinking it a little bit. I mean, the truth is the ending
of the film is intended to end this film and the appearance of
that device is very much intended as a dramatic effect for Batman
Begins and for the end of it.
As far as where sequels might go from here, I think that, as you
pointed out, the tone of the film is very, very different to previous
films and so it doesn’t stand as either a sequel or a prequel
to any of the films that have come before.
I think it is a separate thing. What that means to me is that
as far as what might be addressed in future films, they can all
be reinterpreted in a fresh way because this film really is a
different tone to the previous films.
Batman Begins review
Batman Begins enjoys strong
US opening but box office slump continues
New Batman finds origins
in original Superman movie
Christopher Nolan interview
Katie Holmes interview
Gary Oldman interview
Sir Michael Caine interview