They “Contained So Much Energy”

Paul Dano loved exploring the history of Batman.

The 37-year-old actor portrays the villainous serial killer Edward Nashton/Riddler in The Batman and the self-confessed “comic-book nerd” was delighted to delve into the past of the superhero and his various enemies for the forthcoming blockbuster.

Dano told The Times newspaper: “It’s almost like each decade gave the next decade permission to happen.

“Comics in the Sixties and Seventies were a real step from the comics of the post-war Fifties in terms of the subject matter that they were dealing with. You think that’s it, but then come the Eighties and suddenly you’ve got people taking comics and graphic novels to a different place.

“And I would similarly Tim Burton did something with Batman that was also sort of groundbreaking, and then Chris [Nolan] did and this is another step.”

The movie sees Robert Pattinson makes his debut as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Paul explained that it is a younger, rawer version of the Caped Crusader.

He said: “There’s something almost volatile to it. Him understanding who he is and the energy of this thing he’s taken on. Not fully formed.”

Much of Dano’s acting career had been working on smaller projects (Ruby Sparks, There Will Be Blood), but he had no concerns about starring in a Batman movie.

Asked if he was nervous about playing the Riddler, he said: “No. I felt so lucky and excited. I remember getting the phone call in the car with my wife [Zoe Kazan] and my dad. No, for me Batman is pretty much as cool as it gets.

The Batman director Matt Reeves has said that his take on The Riddler is inspired by the real-life serial slayer The Zodiac Killer.

“Especially if we’re talking, quote, ‘big, commercial’ films, there’s probably not a better opportunity than to go to Gotham.”

Responding to critics of the superhero genre such as Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott, Dano said: “I’ll be excited for anybody, including those people, to see this movie. It’s a real film, for a massive audience.” 

Elsewhere, in an Indiewire interview, the Knight and Day star said playing the Riddler came at an emotional cost. 

“There were some nights around that I probably didn’t sleep as well as I would’ve wanted to just because it was a little hard to come down from this character,” Dano said. “It takes a lot of energy to get there. And so you almost have to sustain it once you’re there because going up and down is kind of hard. 

“What I felt was the opportunity that Matt [Reeves] was giving with a villain in this film was more real, potentially more terrifying.”

Even after filming wrapped, Dano struggled to distance himself from the Riddler. When asked during the virtual press conference what props he would like to take home as a memento, he said, “One of the things you try to fool yourself as an actor is to let the clothes and props contain so much of the energy for you, so you don’t feel like you are going too mad. 

“[So] I won’t take any of that home with me. That needs to stay there [on the set] and stay out of my home.”

The Batman opens in Singapore cinemas on March 3. — BANG SHOWBIZ

Photos: TPG News/Click Photos

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