Chris Nolan ‘Tricked’ Studio Execs Into Giving Cillian Murphy Scarecrow Role

Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has admitted that because Cillian Murphy was rejected after his Batman audition, this allowed him to cast the actor as the Scarecrow instead.

Cillian Murphy as Batman

Prior to filming 2005’s Batman Begins, Murphy originally auditioned for the part of Batman. Fans can actually see Murphy’s audition online. Despite the actor’s impressive performance, Nolan ultimately didn’t choose him but cast Christian Bale instead.

“When we had our first conversation I think both of us knew that you weren’t going to wind up playing Batman. But I really wanted to get on set with you, I wanted to get you on film. We did those screen tests very elaborately, on 35mm, with a little set. There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when you started to perform.”

A Secret Scarecrow Audition

Despite the fact that Nolan didn’t feel that Murphy fit the part, he wanted him the film in some fashion. Enter: Scarecrow. However, the maxim for comic book films is to always cast the villain role with a big Hollywood name. Unfortunately, Cillian Murphy was not considered a big name at the time, so Nolan concocted a bit of a subterfuge to high-ball the studios executives in order for the actor to get the part.

“We did two scenes – there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene – and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you were doing on set. Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, ‘Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?’

There was no dissent. All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing. That was a big leap for them and it really was purely on the basis of that test. So that’s how you got to play Scarecrow.”

While Murphy wowed the executives, his Batman auditioned ended being a stealth Scarecrow audition. How funny is that?

You can catch Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Oppenheimer, when it hits theaters in July 21.


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