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Why 'The Batman' was written for Robert Pattinson and how it was inspired by a 90’s rock star

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The cast and director of The Batman reveal why the role was written for Robert Pattinson and how it was inspired by Kurt Cobain.

Video Transcript

ROBERT PATTINSON: When that light hits the sky, it's not just a call. It's a warning.

KEVIN POLOWNY: Having already done a very popular franchise and dealt with, sort of, the pros and cons that come with it, did you have any reservations in doing another role that will obviously follow you around more so than other projects?

ROBERT PATTINSON: Not really, and I think also because like it seems like the kind of paparazzi industry is just disintegrated over the last few years.

ZOE KRAVITZ: Now, it's just people with their phones.

ROBERT PATTINSON: Yeah, but that's all the same, and also, I've got a mask on the whole time. Like, I mean, up until today, nothing's really changed that much.

ZOE KRAVITZ: Rob, the movie hasn't come out yet.

KEVIN POLOWNY: Robert Pattinson's? Casting felt like a bold swing, but I heard you actually wrote this with him in mind for the part. Is that true? Like, what did you see in Rob that screamed Batman?

MATT REEVES: It is true, and it's funny. You know, people thought it was a bold choice. I didn't think that. I thought well, he's a bold actor. Like, he's different in everything that he's done. And after becoming kind of this pop sensation in Twilight, he went down this path where he became an incredible actor. I just felt like he had this kind of crazy, compulsive drive that I thought was this version of Batman. I started writing it for him, which was kind of a crazy decision because somebody who'd been doing all of these kind of art films might not want to come back and do Batman.

And thank God, he did.

KEVIN POLOWNY: This is certainly a Bruce Wayne we've never seen before, young and still very much haunted by his family tragedy. He's not debonair. He's maybe even a little surface of a punk, a little emo. How did you land on this iteration?

MATT REEVES: You know, it's funny. When I was writing, I write to music, and I was playing some Nirvana. And there was something in it that just clicked. The reason that was in that first trailer is because it's in the movie. When you hear Something in the Way, there was a vibe in there that I thought oh, this is, this is sort of the mood that I could imagine Bruce Wayne in. And there was-- it made me think of Kurt Cobain. And there's been a lot of people going like what are you talking about? Kurt Cobain, that's not Batman.

He's this small guy. And it wasn't that I thought that Kurt Cobain was Batman. It was this idea that Kurt Cobain, I think, had a very uneasy relationship with fame. And I thought the rock star edge for Bruce Wayne sort of made a lot of sense to me. I was thinking almost like being a member of the Kennedy family, or like the British Royals, and having to deal with the tragedy, and then live in the wake of what was a very public trauma in your life, and then have everyone constantly looking at you and saying like I don't want to be in that light, and kind of retreating and being a recluse.

For some reason, that really connected the idea of Rob, as well, to me, which I could see him as having that kind of rock star edge.

KEVIN POLOWNY: Rob, you actually spend much more time in the bat suit than out of it in this film. What was the comfort level?

ROBERT PATTINSON: On day one, you're thinking I can just stand there, and it's going to be fine. And then by day three, you suddenly realize the mountain which you have to climb. It definitely helps in a million different ways. I mean, you look a lot tougher when you're fighting and stuff. It's a significantly more comfortable than the one I used-- I use George Clooney's in my screen test, and that was literally like if you disembowel the Penguin. And I just was literally--

ZOE KRAVITZ: Not the penguin, but a penguin.

ROBERT PATTINSON: A actually pengui, or maybe a, it felt like being inside a seal and then and speaking out of its mouth.


GEORGE CLOONEY: Never leave the cave without it.

JOHN TURTURRO: I like the world of Batman. You know, I've been a Batman fan since I've been a little kid, when the show first came on television. I love film noir, and Matt's whole hit was sort of it being a film noirish exploration of character of this guy who's becoming this iconic figure that we all know. And same way for Selina as Catwoman and Oz as the Penguin.

ZOE KRAVITZ: I'm just happy to be here, you know. I really am. To work with Rob, and to work with Matt, and to be part of such an iconic world, we really did start the story with Selina at the very beginning. She's not even Catwoman yet so I'm obviously looking forward to continuing this journey.

PAUL DANO: What was great about the opportunity Matt gave me, and all of us, was how emotional and psychological of a place he was coming from. And I think our first conversation was really where the character was born for me, which was Matt and I talked about the two sides of trauma and how Batman is born of trauma from his parents' death. And in this film, I think so is the Riddler. And so that is the seed from which everything grew, so his past and then what does the mask then allow, what parts of him, to finally express.

COLIN FARRELL: Whoa, take it easy, sweetheart.

KEVIN POLOWNY: You were utterly unrecognizable. What is that physical transformation involved for you?

COLIN FARRELL: Sitting still in a chair for a few hours every morning, I didn't know that it was going to be what it came to being. And I'd never done anything like this. To be that buried that deep, behind the unrecognizable, gave me such freedom, freedom of movement, freedom of gesture, freedom of dialect. It just, it all kind of started coming together then for me.

KEVIN POLOWNY: There is so much discourse right now about the merits of superhero movies. Fans are getting upset with greats like Scorsese or Coppola saying anything unkind about them. What drew you guys into this universe, and have you been sort of conscious of what seems to be the sort of growing divide in how they're looked at?

JEFFREY WRIGHT: The film that we made, yes, is of the genre, and it's a Batman film. But Matt wasn't trying to recreate another cookie that had come out of the oven. He was really trying to make something distinct, and I think that's one of the criticisms. Hearing Coppola say that is kind of retreading of old paces with certain of these films, there was no sense of that on our set at all. It was one of the most extremely exciting creative environments that I've worked on on a set. Just everywhere you turned, whether it's in production design, lighting, in the script, or in performance, there was an attempt to do something that was new.

That was why we were there, not to pay homage to the 80 years of history with this franchise, but to create it anew. That was the idea.

COLIN FARRELL: Take that you freakin' psycho. I got you.