Lots Of New Information In THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Production Notes
Click the jump to see new images of the cast and to read forty-nine pages of production notes for The Dark Knight Rises. In the notes there is a ton of fresh information on new and old characters.
Click Here To Read The Dark Knight Rises Production Notes (49 pages)
CATWOMAN - Initially, however, it is not Bane who draws Bruce Wayne out of Wayne Manor; it is an intriguing encounter with a particularly skilled thief named Selina Kyle—better known in the Batman canon as Catwoman. Nolan says, “We felt very strongly that we should have Catwoman in this film, but we always look for an organic way of grounding the characters in our world. Selina is a cat burglar, a grifter, a classic movie femme fatale, really. That was my way in, and we drew the iconic figure of Catwoman from that.”
The only member of the main cast who counts this film as her first collaboration with Nolan, Anne Hathaway admits, “It’s hard to reveal anything about Selina Kyle because she is intensely private and very mysterious. She has her own code of ethics, which sometimes involves doing things that other people might consider questionable.”
Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan says, “Something about her morally ambiguous philosophy finally gives Batman someone he can relate to. In a weird way, she’s the yin to his yang. The dynamic between them is so fresh—the playful way she kind of pokes fun at him—it sparks a connection between them and takes some of the somberness away from his character.”
BANE VS. BATMAN - Although Bale was embarking on his third outing as Batman, he had to demonstrate more of a physical arc in “The Dark Knight Rises,” as Bruce had not been the Caped Crusader for so many years. In the first two films, Bale employed a mixed martial arts discipline called Keysi, but that would have to be modified, reflecting his current condition and in response to the style of his opponent. Stunt coordinator Tom Struthers says, “We didn’t drop Keysi, but we evolved it to another level to deal with the brutality of Bane.”
When Batman and Bane do battle, “it is just a great piece of cinema,” Roven states. “It is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, and it’s awesome to watch.”
“It required very intense preparation,” the director continues. “And when it came time to shoot, Christian and Tom worked extremely well together. It was frighteningly real, and quite intimidating to see these iconic, larger-than-life characters really go at it. There are plenty of other large-scale action scenes in the film, but that face-to-face confrontation between these two adversaries was something I really felt was the centerpiece of the film.”
UNDERGROUND PRISON - Cardington also housed an even more imposing multi-leveled set: a hellish prison, which, apart from being beneath the ground, is a far cry from Bane’s lair. The prison is a rough-hewn labyrinth of stone cells in a vast abyss. The barred doors of the cells are unlocked because there is only one escape: an impossibly high vertical shaft leading to the surface. There were actually two shafts constructed at Cardington, the taller being 120 feet high. Exteriors above the prison were filmed in Jodhpur, India, where the forbidding landscape added to the desolation.
BANE - Bane, however, has no such compunctions. Everything he does is a means to an end. Tom Hardy attests, “Bane has come to do a job and has no feelings of remorse or shame about the death and destruction he’s causing. There is nothing ambiguous about Bane. He is clearly a villain…just a horrible piece of work.”
Having recently worked with Hardy on “Inception,” Nolan knew he could project an extreme physical and psychological threat despite having to act from behind a mask. “When you’re creating a monstrous presence like Bane in a movie, you could concentrate just on the physical or you could focus on the more psychological aspects. With Tom, I knew I would get the whole package. He is such an incredible actor; he was able to depict this beast of a man who has exceptional fighting skills, but also able to convey the soul of someone who is damaged inside as well as out. Tom is the kind of actor who relished the challenge of having to generate an entire performance with most of his face covered up. What he is able to do with just his eyes is truly amazing.”
The actor adds that his portrayal of Bane entailed creating a contradiction between the voice and the body. “He is florid in his speech, but has the physicality of a gorilla. So while he is quite articulate, we also wanted to establish a very imposing presence.”
ALFRED PENNYWORTH - Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred is portrayed once more by Michael Caine. Nolan says, “Alfred and Bruce have the strongest of emotional bonds, which has been tested in one way or another in each film, but in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ it’s tested as never before. As somebody who cares deeply for Bruce, Alfred questions the decisions he’s making and the direction his life is going, and that inevitably brings about conflict.”
GORDON & JOHN BLAKE DYNAMIC - “It’s a secret that’s eaten away at him for years,” confirms Gary Oldman. “Crime is at an all-time low in Gotham, but Gordon knows that it’s tainted. Now he’s ready to come clean, but there doesn’t seem to be a right time or place, and he also questions if the city is ready for the truth. Then, because of Bane, he’s in the field again. I think he’s like a soldier who likes to be on the front lines, getting his hands dirty. He’s probably been doing a lot of paper pushing in the intervening years and that has dampened his spirits. Now you really feel like the old Gordon is back.”
Gordon finds a new protégé in policeman John Blake, whose devotion to the job impresses his boss. Emma Thomas says, “Gordon definitely sees something of himself as a young cop in John Blake. Everyone else seems to have lost focus because things have been so good, but Blake is the first to realize that something’s up, and Gordon recognizes those instincts by promoting him and putting him on his team.”
Describing his role, Joseph Gordon-Levitt says, “John Blake is the kind of guy who probably always wanted to be a cop and dedicates himself to being excellent at his job. He is someone who believes in what he does and I admire that in anybody. In the midst of a lot of cynicism, he remains proud to be a police officer.”
Nolan comments, “Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne have become somewhat jaded, so we wanted to contrast that with a younger, more idealistic individual who, in a way, represents where they’ve come from. Joe really captured the strength and courage of a man who refuses to back down, regardless of the odds.”
MIRANDA TATE - The character of Miranda Tate can also relate to Bruce, albeit from a place of affluence. Cast in the role, Marion Cotillard notes, “They both have a lot of money and are trying to use it in a good way, so they understand each other right away.”
Bale agrees. “Miranda is somebody who is encouraging Bruce to use his resources for the betterment of Gotham through an environmental project. She is beautiful, smart and altruistic, and all the good that she aspires to earns his respect and also intrigues him a great deal.”
A member of the board of Wayne Enterprises, Miranda’s affluence makes her a vital ally to Bruce when the company becomes the target of a hostile takeover. On a more personal level, Nolan says, “She is looked at by Alfred and Lucius as a woman who could perhaps bring Bruce out of his own exile and remind him that there is more to life than sitting alone in the Batcave. Marion has an incredibly appealing presence with an exotic glamour. She brought a combination of warmth and wisdom to Miranda that provides a great sense of hope for Bruce.”
BANE'S MASK - “We designed the mask to be animalistic,” Hemming says. “It had to look completely different from Batman’s cowl…and it could not be black.”
The mask was built by the costume effects department, using a digitally mapped model of Tom Hardy’s face and skull. Costume effects supervisor Graham Churchyard explains, “To us, the Bane mask had to fit like a prosthetic; however, unlike a prosthetic, it had to look like it was engineered out of metal. We were able to take Tom’s computer cast and 3D model each rigid piece to the contours of his head so it was tight to his face, with no gaps.”
As it turned out, “tight” was an understatement. Hemming attests, “It was gripping Tom’s head like a vice. With his assistance and patience, we made it as tight as it could ever have been. There was a magnetic removal panel on the front, so everything you see has a series of magnets underneath it, and everything beneath that has a rubber seal that pressed into Tom’s skin and was held on by tension. The fact that he tolerated it, let alone acted with it, was astounding.”
BATCAVE - Nathan Crowley, who teamed with fellow production designer Kevin Kavanaugh on this film, explains, “Chris and I pondered how to mix the Batcave and the Bat-Bunker, which is incredibly geometric and modern and everything is cleanly recessed into the walls. It occurred to us that we could carry over the same idea by flooding the Batcave so everything is hidden underwater. When you enter, it’s just a cave, but you press a button and up come these perfect cubes that hold different objects, from the Batsuit to a super computer.”
BANE: "The shadows betray you because they belong to me."
The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters July 20th 2012 and stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate.
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