There were a lot of different names being thrown around to play Lt. James Gordon in the new film BATMAN BEGINS. It was a crucial role. Gordon is an important character in the Batman mythos. The previous films had relegated him to the sidelines. This is like making a STAR WARS movie without Han Solo wait they already did that.
Anyway, I couldnt have been happier with the choice of Gary Oldman. Throughout the years hes played many interesting roles, whether its Sid Vicious, Beethoven, Dracula, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirius Black or a dwarf (the movie is TIPTOES, you have to see Gary Oldman playing a dwarf to believe it). Now he can add Lt. James Gordon to the list, the man who will one day become the Commissioner Gordon of legend. Oldman brings a quiet dignity to the role that previous incarnations have been missing.
Then we come to Morgan Freeman, who plays Lucius Fox, sort of what Q is to James Bond. A Wayne Enterprises employee dismissed to the basement, Fox helps Bruce Wayne acquire some of his toys, including the Tumbler, a.k.a. the Batmobile. Now, Im known for leaving voicemails for my friends impersonating Morgan Freeman. Its not the greatest impersonation in the world, but on certain days it may make somebody laugh. So it was a little strange to be sitting a foot away from the man himself. Too bad I couldnt have him call any of my friends and leave a message.
We talked with both actors about their involvement in BATMAN BEGINS. The entire cast was full of enthusiasm for the project, and Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman were no exception.
|Gary Oldman||Morgan Freeman|
The movie is trying to be a serious movie. Was that an approach that was in both of your mindsets?
GARY OLDMAN (GO): Yeah, I like what it stands for right and wrong, good and bad, justice prevails. The family, for instance, even though it occupies a very tiny part of the movie, really a few minutes of screen time, it resonates with you. You carry that mother and father; it really carries all the way through, so that its a theme through the movie. Its about compassion I though it was most unusual in that respect. That this kind of genre, this kind of movie it is a sort of a fantasy.
MORGAN FREEMAN (MF): A fully realized story. You know were all familiar with the batguy. So that familiarity sort of demands something else. Which I think what Chris Nolan delivered. You have an American movie character, and all of a sudden we realize We knew that his parents were killed by some guy, but we dont know what happened to him. We dont know how he got to be Batman. Where did he get all this stuff? Where did he learn how to fight? This whole thing with the ninja comes out! That was perfect.
Makes sense with
The gauntlets. Its all functional
GO: Its all functional, yeah. Instead of camp.
MF: When you do camp, you dont know where youre going I think. Its like ha, ha, that didnt work, here!
GO: I wasnt a huge fan of the comics. Just not one of those kids.
MF: He was reading Ibsen and Chekhov! (LAUGHS)
GO: In the original language! (LAUGHS) I liked movies more than I and then I saw the series in the 60s, with Adam West. So I used to stay in. That was before the days what is it? Same time, same bat channel? And this is before videos. I remember having like, one of these (motions to tape recorder) things, but it was a very archaic version of a tape recorder. And you would tape shows off the tv, just have the audio.
MF: Oh really?
Next to the speaker?
GO: Yeah, put it right up next to the TV, you know? And then the power would go down, and the five schillings would run out. The meter would go, in the middle of a show, you know what I mean, and that dot would go on the TV, and youd go Mom! Mom! Im in the middle of Batman! So yeah, I used to watch that show. Thats the one I really sort of remember. It doesnt hold up! (LAUGHS) I saw it last week.
Why were you recording off the TV, so you could recite lines from a TV show?
GO: Yeah, I just used to always long before I wanted to be an actor, I got you know that wonderful, wonderful the Dustin Hoffman LENNY?
MF: Oh yes.
GO: Who was the director?
GO: I remember, before Id ever even seen the movie, Id found the record, I was given it. I thought it was music, and I put this thing on, I didnt even know how I came by it, it was in an attic or somewhere, or someone had it, and it was all those monologues.
MF: Lenny Bruce?
GO: Yeah, with Dustin Hoffman doing it.
GO: Yeah, the soundtrack from the movie. So I just learned them all, before I even had an idea that I wanted to be an actor. I used to be at school, and I used to be the only 13, 14 year old walking around going Eleanor Roosevelt gave Lou Gehrig the clap. I didnt even know what I was talking about! So I used to tape stuff
Did you ever confuse or bewilder your teachers?
GO: No, it was with my friends. I was far too timid in class to upset the teachers.
What type of movies appealed to you as a kid?
GO: Well the first movie I saw at the cinema was A HARD DAYS NIGHT.
What was that like?
GO: Fantastic. My sister took me. But Ill watch anything almost anything.
What made you want to become an actor?
GO: Malcolm McDowell. I saw him on the TV one night and I just went thats what I want to do. I want to be doing that. And thats it.
What about you Morgan? Did you have a moment where you knew what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?
MF: I dont recall it like that. It was a gradual realization that there wasnt anything else.
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILER ABOUT THE END OF THE FILM!
Are you lined up for the sequel?
MF: Im not lined up, they dont line me up.
GO: Oh, theyre gonna call you. I think so.
MF: From your mouth to Gods ears. Conventional belief is that theyre gonna call me.
GO: I think Christian signed for three, yeah. Im signed to do the next film. (Turns to Morgan) Theyll be calling you. And we got the Joker next time.
Any word on who will be playing him?
As Gary is leaving, he reflects on people saying that he always plays the bad guy...
GO: People say whats it like playing the good guy? It hangs in the gallery of all the other good guys.
Which good guy that youve played should we go back and rent?
GO: Beethoven, IMMORTAL BELOVED. I think Draculas hardly a bad guy. A tragic romantic misunderstood. Hes a vampire!
BATMAN BEGINS SPREADS ITS WINGS WEDNESDAY JUNE 15
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