Everyone’s talking about “The Batman,” the new superhero film from Warner Bros. Pictures and director Matt Reeves starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, the reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Warner Bros. Pictures shared to ANCX an exclusive Q and A with Pattinson who considers the film a sad but intense detective story.
More than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman, striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Oz, aka The Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka The Riddler (Paul Dano).
As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.In this exclusive interview, Robert Pattinson talks about the heightened duality of the classically dual role and why Batman is the only comic book character he will ever do.
How did this role come to you? Did we hear that it was you who planted the seed with producer Dylan Clark?
ROBERT PATTINSON: I think I accidentally planted the seed. I was meeting Dylan for something else and then... Actually, to be honest, I think I definitely was angling after it, but I didn't know what the status of the project was. But I remember talking to Dylan for a long time then just right at the end, being, "So what's happening with The Batman?" But it didn't really fit into the kind of stuff I was doing then. But for some reason, with Batman... It’s literally the only comic character I'd ever do. It's by far the coolest one. And I thought it was completely out of reach as well. So, I was like, "Oh, I might as well just throw my cap in the ring." I didn't realize that Matt was thinking about me for it as well, which is a lovely coincidence.
So, what did you think about his take on this character when you first heard it, or read the script?
RP: It's funny, because I didn't quite realize why it felt so different at first, and I actually had to talk to him about it afterwards, and he's like, "Oh, it's because Bruce isn't a playboy in it. He's not a playboy and he hasn't got control."
Normally in all the other movies, he has complete control of the delineation of when he's Bruce in public, when he's Bruce in private, and when he's Batman, and he can just change at will. Whereas in this film, he's basically Batman the whole time, in a way; he's just let Bruce disappear. I mean, Bruce feels nothing about himself, Bruce is just this afterthought to his life. Which is sad in a way. But Bruce as a person starts to reawaken as the story goes along, but he just thinks, "I just want to abandon it all. I just want to be Batman the entire time. And I just sleep as Bruce," basically.
And it is Year Two, which is uncharted territory for us to see on the screen because it's not, "Oh, I'm going to become this other character." He's done it, but he's nowhere near refining it, is that right?
RP: Yeah. And also, I like the fact that you don't see the origin story, but it's alluded to... Even in the graphic novels there's always this period of, "Oh, I went away and trained, and I've mastered myself." And now, when Batman emerges into Gotham, it's a finished product. Whereas in this film, it seems that he has been a recluse for years and years and years, and then this thing starts emerging from him. And it's less logic-based. I mean, I remember reading one of the comics, I think it's called Shaman, and The Man Who Falls, and in some of the different comics, it's literally just a bat—when he's trying to think of what he has to be, it's just a bat that comes through the window—and he goes, "That's what I have to be. A bat."
And in the graphic novels, you just accept that. But if you think about it, that's an incredibly strange thing to actually do. But maybe there's a symbolism or a purpose to it. There's something about putting on that suit that allows him to access heightened feelings, because there's an abandonment of self as soon as he puts it on. And the more he puts it on, the more abandonment comes with it. It's as if you totally shut down all of your other emotions, then you can heighten your immediate senses, I guess.
When we first see what he's doing, he's operating from just a very organic, emotional, place of anger, a place of fear. But as this case comes through, he has to start to draw on his intellect—which is what separates Batman from most superheroes, how intelligent he is and what a great detective mind he has. So, how does he start to switch from pure, raw energy and anger to, "I've got a crime to solve”?
RP: Yeah, it's still from an instinctive place, but it's a different type of instinct. I mean, he's always quite methodical in it, but I think the interesting part of it is that he's trying... The questions that the Riddler ends up putting forward, the riddles, he wants to know.
And things get personal as well?
RP: Even as much as he tries to bury his past and bury the baggage of being Bruce Wayne, there are still all these unanswered questions and he can't help but be drawn to it. It's interesting... There's something so odd about his character. It's not he's, "Oh, you are a genius and that's why you can figure these things out." There's something deeper... He's not a normal person. [LAUGHS]
There's definitely something else that motivates him?
RP: Yeah. And I kept trying to interpret that. He's not just really good at logic problems or solving ciphers or whatever. It's as if there's a point inside himself where he can access this sensory zone, which is the same thing that allows him to fight lots of different people at the same time because it's about focus and Zen. And so even when you're looking at the ciphers, you drop down into a deeper level of existence. And again, I think it's the same thing inside him that can truly believe if he puts on a suit of armor, it's like, "I am no longer Bruce." There was a thing I kept trying to play, which is that it's not logical behavior, any of it. He's almost meditating to get to it, he's in a fugue state.
Zoë Kravitz said after the first time she saw you in the suit on the set she felt like, "Oh my God, we're doing this, this is Batman." What did it feel like for you to put on the suit, to fully see yourself as that side of the character?
RP: I mean, I kept saying as we were developing it, I wanted to do certain things in the movement, because there were long dialogue scenes and just things which required little, tiny body language stuff, and I really wanted to do all this physical stuff which was serpentine and felt like more of a wraith. So, each individual element of the suit was made for that. Then I tried on the gauntlets separately, and I tried on the cowl separately. When I finally tried on the whole thing, after so much discussion, I just remember putting it on and just sitting there and chuckling to myself. You're literally just... It does feel crazy just putting it on the first time. You're just looking at the mirror…
Okay, I have to ask because it's one of the fans' favorite things in the world: the Batmobile. I mean, and this one is so cool, isn’t it?
RP: So cool. And totally drivable. I remember the first time I saw it I was just supposed to see if I could just fit in it with the cowl on, and I didn't really realize that you could actually just drive it off. We were on some testing track—and it was the only time I actually did this because as soon as I did they realized I couldn't be trusted with it—and I immediately drove off and just kept driving around for 20 minutes. I was never allowed to drive it freely again. [LAUGHS]
But some of the stuff that you see in the film... In the car chase, I mean, that's me, I'm driving it, and driving it fast as well. Normally you'd just be in a shell in a studio, and to actually do it for real and there's all the rain machines everywhere on the freeway… It was very, very exciting.
“The Batman” opens in Philippine cinemas March 2.