Gary Oldman & Joseph Gordon-Levitt Interview For ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
Following the events of ‘The Dark Knight,’ it has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Caped Crusader sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane. The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. The film arrives in cinemas and IMAX on July 20th. You can check out my other interviews for the film here: Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale, and Christopher Nolan (lots more to come).
How was it for you Joseph, joining this franchise? And as John Blake, a man with such devotion and fortitude?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It was a delight and an honour. I’ve been a fan of Batman since I was four years old, I think everybody has! He’s the cool superhero, he wears black (laughs). And not just that, I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work since ‘Memento’ came out in theatres. I remember when ‘Batman Begins’ came out and I said to myself, “Oh, the filmmaker who made ‘Memento’ is now doing a Batman movie, that’s interesting. I’ll go see that!” I hadn’t seen the last few Batman movies before that. But with ‘Batman Begins,’ I loved it. And then ‘The Dark Knight’ was just one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I was so grateful to be a part of it. And John Blake, he’s the kind of guy who probably always wanted to be a cop and dedicates himself to being excellent at his job. He’s someone who truly 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.
Gary, in the eight years since ‘The Dark Knight,’ Commissioner Gordon has been struggling with the story he and Batman fed Gotham about Harvey Dent’s demise?
Gary Oldman: Yeah. He respects Batman’s sacrifice, but allowing the citizens of Gotham City to be fed a lie goes against everything that Gordon believes in. It’s a secret that’s eaten away at him for years. Crime is at an all-time low in Gotham, but Gordon knows that it’s tainted. And 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.
How has it been for you working with Christopher Nolan over the course of these three Batman films? Has his filmmaking approach changed?
Gary Oldman: It has really been much the same as on the others. He’s very focused and he knows what he wants. With ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ he’s making a very very big movie, although you wouldn’t know it. He doesn’t seem to really change much from film to film. He does it in a very calm way, there he is doing it with his cup of tea (laughs). He’s just very calm, I’ve never seen him get overly agitated, or lose his temper, or raise his voice. He doesn’t throw fits or tantrums. And it was only until the end on a rooftop, which was my last scene shooting and Joseph’s first scene in the movie, that it suddenly sort of struck me that it was the end. It was a little emotional and kind of odd.
Christopher Nolan’s movies work on so many levels. And with his Batman trilogy, for me, the movies have gotten progressively better….
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, with Chris, he’s just got a lot of good ideas. And also, he genuinely loves what he does. He’s not doing it to make a bunch of money or to prove anything to anybody. As popular as his movies are, he really just loves movies and makes them, I think, mostly for himself, for him to enjoy. I think that’s why it comes off so well. Also, when I really like a series of movies, you just hope that it has a real ending. That they’ve actually thought it through enough to have an ending, not just rolling the credits. But a real ending, a story that has a beginning, middle and end. And this does. I think that’s really satisfying because some trilogies….they call them a trilogy, but it’s not really a trilogy, it’s just a sequel, to make more money. This is quite conclusive, in a satisfying way.
Gary Oldman: He’s immensely talented, it’s as simple as that. And he has a great sense of story arc and where the movie needs to deliver. He’s got a great sense of, “This is what the audience needs here. This is what they need to feel here. This will take us here.” And then it has its conclusion. He seems to have a wonderful sense of that. There are people that do have that, but it’s ones and zeros. It’s a mysterious thing. And on set, you don’t see him making an epic movie like this. You don’t see him doing it. He’s very calm, he comes in with his uniform, with ease. And of course his tea (laughs).
Joseph, John Blake is a protégé of Commissioner Gordon’s, how did you find working with Gary in that capacity?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: With Gary, a lot of my favourite actors are chameleons, the ones that disappear into their characters and you can’t see the actor, you see the character. Gary Oldman is the quintessential chameleon, you wouldn’t recognise him. If you watched ‘True Romance’ and showed that to someone who’s a fan of ‘The Dark Knight’ and Commissioner Gordon, you wouldn’t think that was the same person. That to me is really the highest compliment you can pay to an actor. So I would come to work and absorb (laughs), you know?
How was it like working alongside Christian Bale when he’s wearing that Batman suit, that must have been a spectacle on set?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: One thing I really love about how Christopher Nolan makes movies is the spectacle. The spectacle, often times it is real. That was the case on ‘Inception’ too. It’s not all just a bunch of green-screen and computer effects that happen later and you as an actor have to sort of pretend to see something magnificent. He likes to make it happen for real and then just shoot it. When Christian puts on that suit, it’s really there, there’s no added digital anything. It looks like a movie when Christian has the suit on, on set.
Gary Oldman: He changes when he has suit on, doesn’t he?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Absolutely, yeah.
Gary Oldman: There’s something that’s quite forbidding about him when he’s on the set with you wearing the suit.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: He looks like a legend, he doesn’t look like a person anymore. He looks like….the Batman (laughs).
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