Christopher Nolan is throwing down the gauntlet. “We want this to be the most exciting film, the most emotionally engaging and enjoyable blockbuster that an audience can see this summer,” says the director of The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final chapter in the Inception helmer’s trilogy of Batman movies starring Christian Bale. In advance of the film’s release on July 20, Nolan and Bale sat down with Entertainment Weekly for separate interviews to talk about the making of Rises and the remarkable success of their collaboration. The new issue of EW, on sale later this week, also features exclusive new photos from the film.
During a chat in his home office in Los Angeles, Nolan spoke of constructing the story for Rises with writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan and discussed how the edgy epic reflects “the things that worry us” about the world. But he dismissed the perception that the movie promotes a specific political agenda. “I don’t feel there’s a Left or Right perspective in the film,” he says. “What is there is just an honest assessment or honest exploration of the world we live in.” Nolan told EW that he’s satisfied with the threequel, which pits Gotham City’s caped crusader against two new villains: Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), a thief who preys on high society, and Bane (Tom Hardy), a fierce, secretive, and brilliant revolutionary. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are back, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard join the cast. “I’m very happy with it. I know it’s the film I wanted to make. It does all the things I really hoped for,” says Nolan, who found inspiration in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – plus Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities – for his climactic opus. “I look what everyone has done in the film and I think they’ve done a very good job — and I think I’ve done a good job not obscuring it.”
Over a breakfast of carrot juice at an L.A. restaurant late last month, Bale told EW he’s both excited and overwhelmed by the imminent arrival of Rises’ pop culture moment. “It’s just begun, hasn’t it?” said the actor, noting the massive billboards outside the eatery. “These movies always start as small affairs, just me and Chris, sitting across a table, talking,” says Bale. “By this point, it starts to become this monster, just kind of roaring. For me, it’s kind of exciting, but don’t get too close, because it might devour you with its jaws.”
Not that Bale is anything less than grateful for the beast that’s been the Dark Knight. Before becoming Batman, Bale was frustrated by the lack of quality parts coming his way. Not anymore. Since Batman Begins, Bale has not only been a very busy actor, but one of Hollywood’s best. “[Batman] afforded me a change in my life. And it’s up to me to make a hash of that,” says Bale, who won an Oscar last year for his work in The Fighter. “Most actors desperately hope for work to come their way. Batman has given me the ability to say, ‘I don’t have to.’ I can choose, and choose wisely, and make the most of it.”