MovieMaker Interview: A Detective Story

The Batman is featured in this month’s issue of MovieMaker magazine! It features more images from the film and includes spoiler-free interviews with director Matt Reeves and stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell and producer Dylan Clark. Check out scans in our gallery!

What everyone involved in The Batman mentions about director Matt Reeves is his specificity.

“There were times when I thought, maybe we don’t need that comma there,” says Jeffrey Wright, who plays the incorruptible Gotham cop Lt. James Gordon. “And he’s like, ‘Wait a minute — that comma relates to a comma in the next scene. If you take that one out, then it changes the value of the next one.’ It’s a really tightly woven script.”

Speaking to Wright, a few months before the film’s release, I assumed he was kidding about the comma — trying to make a point about Reeves’ exactitude without giving away any plot points of the most-anticipated movie of 2022.

So I asked Reeves.

“I’m sure that is true,” he says, adding: “Hearing that makes me feel somewhat bad.”

We’re speaking over Zoom, and his hair and mustache make him look a little like a cross between Ethan Hawke and the version of Jim Gordon played by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. His response, like his thinking about the comma, is patient, deliberative, and a little apologetic for being so deliberative.

“The first thing that I’m doing when I’m working is I’m trying to internalize everything. Because if I have it internalized, then my compass is functional,” Reeves explains. “So I’m trying to feel what it would be like for everybody. But I am not the actor that any of these people are — I’m just an actor on paper in my head, and in a vision, and I have an instinct about what the emotional path is.

“When Jeffrey comes in, he has so many great ideas. He’s an amazing actor, so he brings something to life. So the last thing I’d want to do is to have him do it the way I would do it, because it won’t be nearly as good,” he explains. “But the specificity of the comma has to do with emphasis — and that is narrative. There are moments when the comma is narrative, the comma is something that sets something apart that’s going to come back in an important way. And this story, in particular, is the most intricate narrative I have ever, ever tried to tackle.”

The details really do matter, says Robert Pattinson, who plays Bruce Wayne and Batman, two personalities who are painfully intertwined in The Batman. Pattinson says he was worried at first when Reeves would ask for a lot of takes.

“Your first thought is, Oh my God, I’m absolutely terrible,” he laughs, with trademark self-deprecation. But when Reeves would show him the playback of scenes, which Reeves likes to do, he began to see the same make-or-break nuances the director did. For example, the mask. The Batman cinematographer Greig Fraser, who also shot Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, told Pattinson early on: “The two most difficult things to light are Darth Vader’s helmet and the cowl.”

“There’s a whole different language, body language, you have to learn to make it do what you want it to do,” says Pattinson. “If you look too much into the light, it looks completely ridiculous, and you’re wearing a Halloween costume. But if you’re like two millimeters down, it’s like — oh, that’s completely totemic, and like it looks exactly how it’s supposed to look. But to learn how to feel that and learn how to react to how the light hits it, takes forever.

Every millimeter matters.

“There was a scene where I — Selina — was coming out of a club and I’m upset,” recalls Zoë Kravitz, who plays Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. “And he said, ‘You know, you walk out and you’re upset and your mouth is kind of open, because you’re breathing, because you’re emotional. And then you’re closing your mouth, but we’re just kind of getting rid of the emotion, just slightly. So try to just keep your mouth relaxed the same way.’ But then I watched back and I can see the difference. And I was like, ‘You are a freak and I love it.’”

Besides directing The Batman, Reeves co-wrote the script with Peter Craig. “Every day, night and day, he eats, drinks, sleeps Batman, and all the characters in this mythology,” says Colin Farrell, who plays Oz, aka The Penguin. “He’s no doubt hunched over a monitor as we speak, still finishing putting the final touches together.”

“Matt is the most specific person and director I’ve ever worked with,” adds Kravitz. “And I really think it’s one of his biggest strengths. I think sometimes he beats himself up about it, because he can probably drive himself almost crazy sometimes. But his specificity is really beautiful, especially in a film like this where it can be so easy to just focus on the big action sequences or the explosions. And he will pay attention to the way you put down a cup.”

A puzzle is its pieces. A mystery is its clues. The Batman is assembled and informed by Reeves’ reverence for films released in his 1970s childhood — conspiratorial thrillers including KluteChinatown, and All the President’s Men.

Every detail is important, because this Batman, more than any before it, is a detective story.

You can read the full interview at MovieMaker!

by Jasper 29.01.2022

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