Christopher Nolan Discusses The Joker Interrogation Scene In THE DARK KNIGHT
Talking in-depth about the filming and creative process that went in to the intense Batman/Joker interrogation scene in The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan reveals what did and didn't make it into the final cut and more.
Talking to Hero Complex, Christopher Nolan has spoken in great depth about his favourite scene in The Dark Knight - the atmospheric and brutal showdown between Batman and The Joker in the GCPD interrogation room. Below are just a few select excerpts from Nolan's fascinating chat with Geoff Boucher, but to read the interview in full (where the director comments on how the scene was shot, the motivations of the hero and villain as well as the importance of Commissioner Gordon and much more) be sure to click on the link below.
"To be honest, it’s pretty easy for me. The scene that is so important and so central to me is the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker in the film. When we were writing the script, that was always one of the central set pieces that we wanted to crack."
"On the set, we shot it fairly early on. It was actually one of the first things that Heath had to do as the Joker. He told me he was actually pretty excited to tear off a big chunk early on, really get one of the Joker’s key scenes up in the first three weeks of a seven-month shoot. He and I both liked the idea of just diving in, as did Christian [Bale, who portrayed Batman]. We had rehearsed the scene a tiny bit. We had just ripped through it a couple of times in pre-production just to get some slight feel of how it was going to work. Neither of them wanted to go too far with it in rehearsal. They had to rehearse some of the fight choreography, but even with that, we tried to keep it loose and improvisational. They wanted to save it all. We were all pretty excited to get on with a big chunk of dialogue and this big intense scene between these two iconic characters. It was quite bizarre to see Batman across the table across from the Joker [laughs]. I’m glad you asked this. You know, I could actually talk about this scene for hours."
"We had a lot of time to shoot it too, because it was so early on. Quite often, as you get behind on other things and you run toward the end of the shoot, things can get very squeezed. But you tend to schedule the first few weeks very generously to give the crew and the actors and myself time to find our feet and find our pace. So we had a couple of days to do it."
"For me creatively, that had been about inverting the expectation. We’ve all seen so many of these dark movie interrogation scenes where somebody is being given the third degree. We just wanted to completely flip that on its head. And have the bright, harsh, bleak light sort show you the Joker’s make-up and its decay. The Batsuit was redesigned for this film. And unlike the suit that we had in “Batman Begins,” it’s capable of really being shown in incredible detail and still hold up to that kind of scrutiny under that bright light. The suit looked much more real and more like a functional thing this time. The whole scene was about showing something real and brutal and getting this real harshness."
"Originally, at the end of that scene, once the Joker reveals his information, Christian dropped him and then, almost as an afterthought, he kicked him in the head as he walked out of the room. We wound up removing that bit. It seemed a little too petulant for Batman in a way. And really, more than that, what it was is that I liked how Christian played it: When he drops the Joker, he has realized the futility of what he’s done. You see it in his eyes. How do you fight someone who thrives on conflict? It’s a very loose end to be left with."
It really is hard to dispute just how brilliant a scene this was. Sound off with your thoughts in the usual place.
*This interview was originally conducted in 2008 but was reposted today by The Los Angeles Times and has not been featured on CBM before now.
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