Lindy Hemming is the costume designer for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Hereís her short Q&A from the August Ď11 RISES set visit in Pittsburgh, PA.
Does Batman have a new suit in this film? And tell us a bit about the Catwoman suit.
LINDY HEMMING: Well, the Batman suit is the same apart from any adaptations from what the action is in this film. Itís the same suit. Thereís no new technology to the actual suit, so thatís the answer to that, and about the Cat-Suit. Itís very, very simple, and as though sheís the kind of the opposite, the female version of Batman in a way, someone who produced a suit that has a technology of its own, which is in the fabric, and has her own items she needs, functional items for what she does. I donít know how much you know about what she does in the story. Sheís a cat-burglar, so she has a custom-made belt with everything to do with burglary, looking at jewelry, she has a belt thatís full of those things, all miniaturized.
Whatís the tech in the fabric?
LH: Well, the tech in the fabric is our own creative tech. Itís not a special fabric. We made it ourselves by screen-printing the under layer and putting a very thin silky over layer on, because wanted to keep her very, very lithe, very, very creeping about, not robotic or anything like that, and we didnít want it to be rubbery, shiny like the previous Michelle Pfeiffer suit, we didnít want it to have any implication of it being a bondage or a sexual kind of suit. It was to be something functional that you wear when youíre trying to creep about in the dark and not be visible basically.
When it comes to translating characters, especially when it comes to Bane with his distinctive-looking mask. What design elements do you look at specifically to try and translate? What helps you decide what to abandon?
LH: Well, the thing is when you look at the comic version of Bane, heís this massive man and heís wearing this wrestling suit. Itís a bit difficult to imagine how you can translate that into a Chris Nolan film because everyoneís meant to have a real background and [be ďrealĒ]. So with Bane, you can see him with his mercenary men and you know in the story where heís come from an why he is like he is. So following that route, he is much more. Heís armored and he has nods to the straps of the wrestling suit he started with and heís got an injury, which is why in the comic, he has to have Venom, and in our story, itís slightly different but itís the same kind of idea. So using all those things and using the fact that he doesnít come from the same technology as Batman. He doesnít have Fox making all these things for him. His stuff has been made on the move over the mountains of the world, maybe in training camps. Heís kind of -- I donít want to say the word, youíll say it yourself -- but heís the guy who has had his stuff made by different people along the way. So there is a slightly clunky element to him and thatís part of his story. But at the same time, the way heís directed in the film, the menace is within him, it isnít because heís a wrestler, and heís also an older character. Heís not a young kid. Heís an older man who as you see the film, youíll know that heís been around for a long time, so thatís as much as I can kind of tell you, but the reason he looks like he looks is heís much more of a warrior/mercenary kind of man.
Does his outfit change over the course of the movie or does it stay pretty much the same?
LH: Itís pretty much the same. He was injured early in his story and heís suffering from pain and he needs gas to survive. He canít survive the pain without the mask, which is exactly the same as the comic book Bane.
We saw the photo of Anne as Catwoman with the mask but behind her head, she has something that looks like ears, but not ears. Can you talk about where youíre drawing inspiration from?
LH: (laughs) Between Chris Nolan and I, we were trying to work out how a woman -- who is sort of modern and trendy and cool -- why would she go around wearing ears. (room laughs) So thereís two nods to it in the film, one is that she is wearing ears, which youíll see and is explained, but we said, ďWhat is forming these ears? Whatís the logic behind the ears?Ē And the logic you will see behind the ears is that when the goggles go up, the shape of the goggles make the ears, and we think itís really cool! Weíre very, very pleased with it. But, oh God, we went through so many incarnations of how to make it happen! Then started making our version of a night vision goggle or magnification goggle that she uses when sheís doing her cat-burgling and made it so that when it goes up, it forms the ears.
Can you talk about redesigning Baneís mask? The thing I liked about it is it almost looks like skeletal figures or a muzzle on a dog.
LH: Thatís exactly right. I wanted it to be like an animal. I wanted it to have an animalistic feeling and I looked at things like Silverback Gorillas and snarling teeth and fangs coming up and fangs coming down. Youíre getting absolutely what it is.
What about Anne? Did she have to be stitched into the suit?
LH: Anne, no, Anneís suit does up. Anneís suit is formed -- itís a formed suit -- but itís very lightweight. Itís not a heavy suit and itís very breathable, so she doesnít get so hot and zipped in.
Can you talk about how Chris Nolan is involved with the costumes?
LH: Oh, absolutely involved in all elements of the film (laughs). But no, heís one of those directorsÖ we start work long before we start making the costumes. Nathan Crowley and I -- we have to go work with him in his house really -- drawing, talking, reference, looking at photographs, looking at books and talking about the script and usually there isnít really the whole script. Thereís the story, not the script, and going into each piece and working out what we will do. So ďA lotĒ is the answer!
BOF: The suit looks a lot like the 60s Catwoman from the TV show. Was there a nod to it in designing this one?
LH: Yeah. I wouldnít say itís a nod. We liked the silhouette of the 60s -- I forgotten her name now (ďJulie NewmarĒ) -- Thank you. We liked the silhouette of her a lot, we like that look a lot, and it seemed to suit Anne to go that way, and I was kind of keen to go [that way].
Tell us about the heels. Weíve been told that they can be used as weapons.
Hemming: Yeah, her heels are weapons and I mean, there are fashion shoes like that, but theyíre like knives, so she uses them.