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THE BOF BATMAN BEGINS REVIEW PREVIEW, Part 4
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Author:
Jett

Morgan Freeman - a recent Oscar winner for his work in MILLION DOLLAR BABY - was the first to enter the room. Mr. Freeman chatted a bit with the group of reporters, including a bit about his sailing expeditions of late. Soon, we were joined by Gary Oldman, who came in using a very nice cane - but no visible limp.

Both were congratulated for the excellent work, “In the movie?” asked Mr. Freeman. “Thank you,” said Mr. Oldman. “We’re both pleased to do that,” Freeman responded, “We both are pleased and feel that it is an excellent movie.” Freeman was asked if had had seen BATMAN BEGINS yet. “Yes, I saw it night before last. I was really knocked out.”

Morgan Freeman looked and sounded just like “Morgan Freeman.” I remember thinking to myself, “That’s friggin' Morgan Freeman right there!” As I stood there across the table from him, he came off very distinguished and as being genuinely glad to be doing this press junket. Oldman was just as charming. I recall thinking that Mr. Oldman was sort of a strange character based on his work in past. But BOF contributor Paul J. Wares had told me how cool Oldman was when he visited the set last September for BATMAN ON FILM (if you haven’t yet read Paul’s series of SET REPORTS by now, you should - they are excellent!). Also, fans had emailed BOF about just how accommodating and friendly Oldman had been while filming on location in Chicago. And that his how he came off during these interviews as well.

We asked both what is was like working with the star of BATMAN BEGINS, Christian Bale. “Kind of a slimy character. Full of himself.” Freeman joked.” “You caught him on a good day then,” Oldman quipped. “He didn’t smell too well when I worked with him,” said Oldman, who shot several scenes as Gordon with Bale in full Batman costume. “I can understand that,” Freeman continued, “sweat would just drip off of him wherever he had holes in the gloves or something.” “He would just stand - and there would be a puddle” says Oldman, “because it was pouring through his shoes.” “He worked hard,” says Freeman of Bale,” he worked really hard.”

So, were they fans of the previous films? “Um [extended]. Gary was,” Freeman told us with a wink. Oldman broke out in laughter and informed us, “You can quote me on that.” Enough said.

In BATMAN BEGINS Oldman plays Jim Gordon the way he should be played. He is no buffoon, and he and The Batman (Bale) interact just as they should - which is the first time it was done correctly in a live-action film. Oldman’s talked about prepping to play Gordon and working with Christopher Nolan. “I put it [Gordon’s back story] together in my kitchen. Learned the lines on the plane. Got there and did the first scene, you know? Just like that.” He continued, “Sometime directors come in and talk. And they are ‘jailers’ of your talent sometimes. They close you up. Being a good director is knowing sometimes when not to say something.” “Knowing a lot when not to say something,” Freeman interjected. Oldman continued, “And Chris would let you, you know. He had such an overview of what he wanted, that if you were kind of going off a bit, you know, he’d kind of nudge you back.” “Very quiet,” Freeman said of Nolan, “And very good. I told him ‘OK, I‘m in your hands.”

So how did they shape their character and were the comics useful? “I don’t have to do anything,” Freeman told us, “the character is shaped on the page. Someone is going to dress you. Part of being an actor is wearing costumes, and costumes tell you a lot about who you are. Basically, you just get out of the way [of the character].” “Oldman joked, “Well I moved to Chicago for a year. And I studied at the police academy.” Everyone had a good laugh - I told you that Oldman was quite the card - and Gary continued, “The script is your map of the world. And if it is well written, you get all you need - it’ll tell you everything you need to know. And then Chris goes and hires Lindy Hemming (BEGINS’ costume designer) - who is a great designer - and you are not there for four days constantly saying ’No that doesn’t work.’ She’s got a great sense of how you might dress so she offers up three jackets and shirts, and you’re like, ’You know, I think I’ll wear that first jacket and tie.’”

Mr. Freeman plays Lucius Fox in BATMAN BEGINS. He’s a scientist - and former Wayne Enterprises board member - who helped design most of what eventually becomes The Batman’s great gadgets. He was asked how he makes all that scientific talk real. “By learning it so you don’t have to think about it when you say it. That’s all that’s about. I mean a scientist sounds like a scientist because of the things that come out of my mouth. That’s all. If you can just get it out without stumbling, it’ll sound fine.” Oldman added, “Acting is not about the intellectual, it is a feeling.“ So neither did a lot of comic book research when it came to their character. Oldman says, “People ask ‘How did you make that work?’ Well, you’re talented.“

Eventually, talked turned to possible sequels. Are they looking forward to working on future BATMAN films? “Yes,” said Oldman very quickly. “I’m happy to become the Commissioner Gordon. I’m only a Lieutenant at the moment. I’d like for it to be made a bit closer to home, you know. I did about twelve round trips - twenty four flights - [filming BATMAN BEGINS]. I was sort of in a state of jet-lag. Maybe that’s why Gordon seemed a bit tired.” “You’re really not joking here,” Freeman chimed in. “No,” Oldman continued, “Chris wanted this state of weariness [to Gordon]. All those flights certainly worked!”

And on that note, they were off to do this all over again with another group of journalists. And still no limp from Gary Oldman.

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM and ON-FILM.NET.

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