TDK Set Visit, Part 5
Author: Jett
Thursday, June 19, 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: On July 29, 2007, I had the honor of visiting the Chicago set of THE DARK KNIGHT. This report features the conversation we had with costumer Lindy Hemming, production designer Nathan Crowly, and producers Emma Thomas and Charles Roven.


The Joker costume is great! Very traditional.

LH: “Really? It's funny because I don't think it is a Joker, I don't think it looks like a Joker because it always, he always looks like he's slept in a hedge! It's always very broken down. It's when he's wearing it. It's difficult to see it there (points to the costume on the mannequin) but…have you seen him act? No? Well it's much more flamboyant, moves a lot, which he does. I suppose it is quite traditional. We started off going through all sorts of reference, photography, hip-hop, just going through all kinds of people that we could think of that might dress like that for real because you know Chris's whole thing is sort of reality."

"So eventually it became -- well, Chris didn't want him to have a brand new costume -- so I started getting pieces together, always keeping them in various shades of purple. And we made up a look like that of course had to design it and have it all made because there are 25 of those cloaks or something all in different stages of breaking down for the things that happen to him. And the [final product] wouldn't have given him any green. I wanted to give him a green thing and then in the end, on the last day I made him a green waistcoat and we tried it on and it worked. So yeah, I guess it does looks like The Joker, and I think it's important because his whole Joker style is much more Goth stroke, punk stroke, it's a much more a street kind of Joker rather than a man who puts on a clown mask somehow. I could talk for hours about The Joker really!

Does The Joker put together his outfit over the course of the film?

LH: No, no, no. We just find him dressed like this and we can assume that he may have been dressed like that for years -- or at least for a long time. He may have always been wearing those clothes. You find him wearing them and your back story is that he's been wearing them. Whatever he's been up to -- all the bad things before we see him -- he's been wearing those clothes. And his makeup too is something which is…he's already scarred, you know, he's already scarred in the film and so the makeup comes from what he does to enhance himself that rather than to look like a clown.”

Are you worried about the makeup running and getting on the suit?

LH: No, the makeup can go all over. In fact I would like it if the makeup was everywhere, it probably will be (laughs)! I mean it would be, wouldn't it, in real life if somebody had makeup on?

So the makeup running is part of the character?

LH: Yeah. I mean, I like the idea that he's sweating, you know, that he's just a mess, I think that's really nice!


Tell us about the Batpod. What does it do?

NC: In the film it does a lot of things. He's in a chase, you can see by the shape of it it's orthodox -- I don't call it a bike actually, because it's not a bike. They have a very talented French stunt rider, Jean-Pierre Goy, who is working with us. He is -- in my mind -- the best stunt rider in the world. But he's had to forget motor bikes in learning to ride this bike, or ‘The Pod’ as we call it. It's totally different, certainly while we've been practicing with it he's not ridden an orthodox motor bike so he gets out of his head. It's interesting, the whole different characteristics of what a normal bike would do.


NC: Well, it jumps, it (laughs)...I'm trying not to give away too much of the story line. It also has the ability to pivot; it can drop down low. So effectively, he can be riding it in certain instances where he presses a button and it drops and he's actually between the wheels, which obviously you can imagine he can get through quite small [spaces].

How fast can it go?

NC: In the real world? I'm guessing probably upwards to 90 to100 miles an hour if we geared it to do that. But we have different gearings for specific things.

There’s guns on it?

NC: This one here (points at a spot on the picture) is a machine gun actually. The one above it is more a cannon -- single shot, big round. The one on front there (points again), that's actually a grapple cannon and has the ability to fire a grapple out with a line on it.

Is is part of The Tumbler?

NC: No, it’s a completely different component.

Any other Bat-vehicles in the film?

NC: No, but there's various sort of semi-gadgets. Batman has his array of instruments I think you see them up there (points to the Batman costume hanging on a mannequin), the spikes that come out. Basically he's fighting, and in this one they have the ability to fire out as a weapon, and there's a double row of them so he can use them to take out a few people in close proximity. He also has a hydraulic in his (glove) which works on hydraulics. So he can sort of crush things or bend things, or bite into things with this particular hand grip that he's got. I'm trying to think of what else he's got. He's got his usual array of [gadgets] on his belt as usual.

So no other vehicles then. Is there a particular vehicle you would like to do in the future?

NC: “I'd quite like to do a Batboat -- I like the water. I'd much rather design a Batboat than a Batplane. A Batboat -- from my perspective -- is achievable. A Batplane isn't. Yeah, a Batboat would be fun.”


Chris Corbould is the special effect supervisor for THE DARK KNIGHT. We had the chance to chat briefly with him during the TDK set visit.

Chris explained a lot of the details behind the Batpod and gave high praise to its stunt driver, Jean-Pierre Goy.

Mr. Corbould also discussed the fact that CGI is used only when absolutely necessary in TDK (as well as in BATMAN BEGINS).


Emma Thomas and Charles Roven are the producers of THE DARK KNIGHT and we had the chance to visit with them for a few minutes on the Chicago set of the film.

“Things have moved on since BATMAN BEGINS, said Roven of TDK. He continued, “As Gordon brought up at the end of the last film, ‘escalation’ is the main them of this one.”

Emma Thomas added, “Well, there is certainly a new criminal element in Gotham,” alluding to the arrival of The Joker. “The question is -- and he [Batman] asks himself as well -- is whether or not Batman is the cause of this…the escalation.”

Speaking of The Joker, Roven informed us that Heath Ledger was the one who first showed interest in playing The Joker by contacting director Chris Nolan. “And he’s simply fantastic,” said Thomas with Roven adding, “Heath simply ownes this part.”

So, The Joker is dead serious in this film? "Oh yeah," they answered, "But there's some humor. Dark, dark humor."

We talked to both about the fact that TDK is clearly a darker film than BATMAN BEGINS. Now you add in The Joker who is a very sinister character -- especially this version of the character. Were they concerned? “Well, we all talk about the rating all the time,” said Roven with a laugh. Emma Thomas added, “But clearly, Batman isn’t Spider-Man, you know?”

I asked both if TDK was their version of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK -- meaning that TDK is the middle film of a “Trilogy” that would essentially set up a third film. “No,” said Roven, “TDK is a stand alone film and will have an ‘end,’ so to speak.”

So no “Joker Card Moments” in this one?

“Well,” said Emma Thomas, “there will be…could be hints of things to come.”

GO TO: Christian Bale

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