Batman Begins screenwriter David S. Goyer has revealed that Jake Gyllenhaal was in the running to play Batman in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight franchise.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman?
In an interview for the podcast Happy, Sad, Confused, Goyer discussed how he advocated for Gyllenhaal to play the Dark Knight during the casting process for Batman Begins. Goyer was privy to the screen tests for the various actors auditioning to play Batman:
I mean, Gyllenhaal’s amazing, Christian Bale’s amazing, so who knows…
In a tease to fans, Goyer even vaguely hinted that there’s probably the tapes of Gyllenhaal’s Batman audition floating around somewhere. Gyllenhaal seems similar to Bale as they both can play suave, sophisticated playboys while having a secret serial killer vibe to them.
However, if Gyllenhaal was Bruce/ Batman, it sure would have been weird to see him as the romantic interest to Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal aka Jake’s real-life sister.
Goyer on Ra’s al Ghul Casting
The screenwriter also relayed how he pushed for Liam Neeson to play the role of Ra’s al Ghul. According to Goyer, there were a few actors for Ra’s but he preferred Neeson because he was a little bit older. He felt that Neeson’s age would fit perfectly with Bruce Wayne’s journey to find a replacement paternal figure in Begins.
The Surprise Casting Suggestion for the Riddler
Even when The Dark Knight films proved to be smash successes, Goyer recounted that still did not mean the franchise was immune to potential studio interference. Goyer reported that after The Dark Knight proved to be a success, there was an unnamed Warner Bros. executive who suggested they insert the Riddler into the third movie. What is more, they already had a big-name star in mind to play the Riddler: Leonardo DiCaprio.
Goyer quickly rebuffed that suggestion, stating that director Christopher Nolan does not like choosing a villain and then building a movie around him.
Because [Nolan] said that’s not a bottom, ground-up way of telling a story. Let’s do it in a very naturalistic way, so let’s figure out what kind of story we want to tell and what we thematically want to explore with Bruce, and then let’s figure out a villain that fits that story.
In the end, Nolan created The Dark Knight Rises with Bane and Talia al Ghul as the main antagonists. How awesome would it have been to get DiCaprio’s take on the Riddler, though? That guy also goes through a lot to invest in his character work. Just look at his work on The Reverent. DiCaprio could have absolutely killed it as an eccentric, but genius-level threat.
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