‘Dark Knight Rises’ star Anne Hathaway: ‘Gotham City is full of grace’

Dec. 29, 2011 | 5:30 a.m.

SPOILER WARNING: This story, which will appear in the upcoming Los Angeles Times 2012 Film Sneaks issue, reveals some details about a scene in the upcoming film “The Dark Knight Rises.” 

 

Gotham City is a war zone. A ruthless madman named Bane has ripped away any sense of security and the citizens, haggard and clutching suitcases with refugee anxiety, sit behind barbed wire waiting to see what will blow up next. A hooded prisoner is dragged in – it’s Bruce Wayne, one of Gotham’s most famous faces – but the eyes of the crowd go instead to the woman in black standing at the top of the staircase.

“Sorry to spoil things, boys, but Bane needs these guys himself,” says sultry Selina Kyle, played here by actress Anne Hathaway, navigating the steps with stiletto heels that, on closer inspection, turn out to have serrated edges capable of leaving nasty claw marks in a fight. She also wears high-tech goggles that, when not in use, flip up and resemble feline ears.

Actress Anne Hathaway (Peter Kramer / Associated Press)

Meet the new Catwoman — but don’t expect her to do any purring this time around. “I love the costume,” Hathaway said last summer on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises,” after shooting that scene for the film. “I love the costume because everything has a purpose, nothing is in place for fantasy’s sake, and that’s the case with everything in Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City.”

Nolan is the director who truly made Batman a grim creature of the night after decades of Hollywood versions that climbed into the Batmobile with a wink. On July 20, the filmmaker delivers “The Dark Knight Rises,” his third and, he says, his final Gotham City film. Christian Bale, now a newly minted Oscar winner, is back as the haunted hero and the supporting cast again includes Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.

The newcomers this time include Hathaway and Tom Hardy (who worked with Nolan on “Inception”), who plays Bane, the hulking, masked terrorist who will test the hero physically more than any of his previous foes, Nolan says. The movie is set eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” the billion-dollar 2008 hit that will be a tough act to follow, especially considering the Oscar-winning performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker.

Hathaway says the new script (based on a story by Nolan and David S. Goyer and written by the director and his brother, Jonathan Nolan)  is strong and that she and Hardy have Nolan on their side, which counts for a lot in a franchise that has been defined by his carefully crafted shadows and symbols.

“Gotham City is full of grace,” Hathaway said. “You look at Heath’s performance as the Joker, there was a lot of madness there but there was also a grace and he had a code there. There’s a lot of belief and codes of behavior in Gotham and my character has one, too. A lot of the way she moves and interacts with people is informed by her worldview. Chris has given us all such complex, defined, sophisticated worldviews that it’s just a matter of doing your homework and getting underneath the character’s skin.”

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises." (Warner Bros.)

The character has considerable history. She first appeared in the comics in the spring of 1940 as a villain driven more by profit than madness or blood lust, and Batman’s attempts to reform her would become a staple part of her mythology – as would the sexual tension between the Bat and the Cat.

“I really got into the comics after I was cast and I like that when she made her first appearance she meets Bruce Wayne and says ‘Let go of me or I’ll claw your eyes out,’ and he says, ‘Careful, claws in or papa spank,’” Hathaway said. “So I’m glad we’ve come a long way since then. I’m not saying anything against Bob Kane, though.”

Actress Hedy Lamarr in 1946. (Associated Press)

Kane, the credited creator of Batman (writer Bill Finger is now acknowledged as co-creator but wasn’t at the time), said that the movie star Hedy Lamarr was a key inspiration for Catwoman, so Hathaway did a deep dive into the Vienna native’s films.

“I know this sounds odd, but her breathing is extraordinary,” Hathaway said. “She takes these long, deep, languid breaths and exhales slowly. There’s a shot of her in [the 1933 film] ‘Ecstasy’ exhaling a cigarette and I took probably five breaths during her one exhale. So I started working on my breathing a lot.”

Hathaway began her career in tiara mode with “The Princess Diaries” films and “Ella Enchanted” but now, at 29, she has plenty of genre distance between herself and “role model for children” roles (as she called those early films) with projects as varied as “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Love and Other Drugs.”

During a break between scenes last summer on the London location shoot, while still wearing her Catwoman suit, Hathaway killed time by doing a crossword puzzle, talking about politics and, when things got too drab, launching into a Tina Turner dance routine while singing “Proud Mary.” The actress said that Nolan’s set is the most well-organized operation she had ever seen, that the pressure that comes with it is welcome, and that for cast and crew “it’s a pleasure to give your best.”

Nolan, in a later interview in Los Angeles, said that Hathaway brought a special skill set to the role.

“She had something very important we needed for this character — she’s an incredibly talented but naturalistic actress, which makes her great in film. She also has terrific theatrical skill so she can project a persona and there’s a big aspect of the character that is a persona. She’s a multi-layered character and we needed a great actress that could rise to that challenge.”

Catwoman through the years: Julie Newmar, left, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry have all portrayed the character. (Los Angeles Times Archives / Warner Bros.)

As Catwoman, she follows in the feline footsteps of Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether as actresses who have played the character in film or television. Newmar has already given her blessing to he newest member of the club, saying Hathaway will be “marvelous,” and Hathaway appreciates it. At the same time, the new Catwoman says that  for her particular character, the past is really never as important as her present.

“What’s come before doesn’t limit or even affect this new version,” Hathaway said. “It doesn’t affect me because each Catwoman – and this is true in the comics as well – she is defined by the context of the Gotham City created around her. Catwoman is so influenced by Gotham and whoever is creating Gotham at the time. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was informed by Tim Burton’s Gotham and Eartha Kitt was informed by Adam West’s Gotham. You have to live in whatever the reality of the world is and whatever Gotham is.”

— Geoff Boucher

RECENT AND RELATED

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Christian Bale says goodbye to Gotham

‘DKR’: Where to see the IMAX preview

The creator of the Joker, dead at 89

‘Dark Knight Rises’: Tom Hardy as Bane

Nolan on his favorite scene in ‘Dark Knight’

‘DKR’: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

‘DKR’: The Bat, the Rat and the Cat

Michael Keaton’s dark memories of ‘Batman’

Nolan: Hollywood takes too many shortcuts

Comments


59 Responses to ‘Dark Knight Rises’ star Anne Hathaway: ‘Gotham City is full of grace’

  1. Jen says:

    I can't believe you would even consider listing Halle Berry as Catwoman on here. Her so called "thieving feline" has absolutely NOTHING to do with DC Comics or the wonderful creation that Bob Cane created. That being said, I think that Hathaway will be a great Catwoman and the fact that her stilettos can transform into claws is highly creative and something I didn't expect. Bring it on!!!!

    • John says:

      Regardless of your curious, angry rant, perhaps the writer (without all your irrational emotion) mentioned Berry because not only did she play the character, but she was the only Catwoman who starred in a movie where Catwoman was the central, title character.

      Crazy how people get so worked up over a cartoon, er, comic book character. Hilarious, actually.

      • Marco says:

        I think Jen's point is that the writer included Halle Berry's "Catwoman" even though that particular character has no attachment to the DC one that has been portrayed by Julie Newmar, Michelle Pfeifer, and Anne Hathaway. They share the name and certain attributes, but the mythos is something completely different. For good reason, DC had no involvement with that movie.

      • absolulu says:

        The only thing hilarious here is your need to bash comic lovers. It's perfectly valid to question including Halle with the actresses who played the Selina Kyle Catwoman who fights Batman. It's like comparing Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and the guy who voices Joker in Mass Effect games.

      • C.F.Godwell says:

        I never understand the need to say “its only a comic book” when you are sitting here taking time out of your day to comment on said COMIC BOOK. Why do you have to belittle the entire genre that is beloved to fans like myself to make a point about a fan “taking it too serious”

        What kind of movie deserves to be taken seriously, oh intelligent one? Hoover? Whee they make a cross-dressing racist demon into a driven saint? Or how about that Margaret Thatcher film, that paints a woman who fed the rich off the poor as a heroine?

        How about NOT seeing these coming movies and delving into the crap Hollywood is putting out there as biographies.

    • HYHN says:

      Omg, calm down. What is wrong with you?

    • TJH says:

      Although Halle Berry Catwoman is not DC Comic Puristic, she played a cat very, very well. Give it a rest. That being said, I look forward to seeing Anne play the role. She is a worthy talent and no doubt she will do "DC" well.

  2. Movie Guy says:

    Now Im Excited to see Anne Hathaway as Catwoman!

    Its amazing that Christopher Nolan's Batman films are the only comic movies where you see the actors putting so much work into their characters.

  3. Wojo says:

    Wow there are some typos in here…

  4. Adam says:

    This is going to be great! I think Catwoman ends up on Batman's side by the end of the film. Can we finally let them get-it-on?

    I like that the boots have a weapon built in as opposed to being just for looks. She worked hard and you can tell, this is going to be amazing.

  5. rono3849 says:

    My initial impression of Hataway's version of Catwoman is positive, but reserved. In the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, her whispered threat in Bruce Wayne's ear of the coming storm is great. I just hope she's both sultry and treatening at the same time. Will she be good or bad or in-between? I guess we'll see what happens in July.

  6. Jordonez says:

    Catwoman should have been sexier….

    uma thurman would have made a better catwoman

    • Fernando says:

      Uma Thurman is NO Catwoman! That's why she was Poison Ivy in the 1997 "Batman & Robin."

      • Antony says:

        She would also be too old.

      • Travis says:

        Uma Thurman is no Poison Ivy either! Her portray of the character was the second worst thing about that movie (the worst being Bane, and the third being it's hack director who's name will not be mentioned). Anne Hathaway is easily one of the sexiest actresses on screen today and I have no doubt that she will bring the sultry, subtle, sexiness of Catwoman to the role. This is something Uma Thurman simply could not do, for although she's very sexy, she's a subtle as a jackhammer about it.

    • clewisx5 says:

      There is not a woman who walks the face of the Earth sexier than Hathaway

    • Nightwing says:

      She played Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin and she stank.

  7. Jerry says:

    I am very certain that Miss Hathaway will be great in this roll…….there is nothing that she CAN'T do! She is a wonderfully gifted actress, and I can't wait to see this movie. I am not a big Batman fan, but for Anne, I will definately make an exception!

    • Emme says:

      I was thinking the same thing, BCT…

    • guest says:

      "As Catwoman, she follows in the feline footsteps of Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether as actresses who have played the character in film or television." Read Much dipshit?

  8. nina says:

    Christopher Nolan is a great director and his Batman films made other comicbook movies like a stupid joke!

  9. Josh H says:

    I'm glad you mentioned that this film resembled a war-zone. What makes Nolan's Batman so interesting is that if you take out the Batman, the films still make a solid standalone film themselves.

    For instance, the first Batman film was a moralistic revenge tale that happened to center on a character the audience already knows as Bruce Wayne. The second was a cop/criminal type of film that happened to have Gotham City as the backdrop. This next film looks like it could be a war film, especially with the rampant automatic weapons, Bat-tank, Bat-jet, armor clad policemen, falling buildings, explosions, and quakes. They're never about Batman, even if they are. There's more to the world than just the character and I think many films are missing this quality of immersion that Nolan brings to the Batman world.

    Like the Dark Knight, it seems ambitious but if done right, it could be a film that sums up a generation.

    • Leo Petaccia says:

      What a brilliant take on all this. Never looked at it that way.

    • Jean-Paul Valley says:

      I believe all three films are commentaries on the current "war on terror":
      Batman Begins represents the organizing of a system designed to combat terrorism
      The Dark Knight explored the morality of methods used in this "war" (Batman=the USA)
      The Dark Knight Rises will be about interrogation, imprisonment and the defeat of a terror network (League of Shadows=al qaeda, hezbolla, hamas and the muslim brotherhood, imho…

  10. Wayne says:

    Have to disagree with the comment about the other actors and actresses putting in as much effort as those who are in the Nolan films. Some of the other guys, pre Nolan, may have done their homework. It's the directors which should be showcasing these characters, the actors and actresses don't really have a say when it comes to editing.

  11. shesrunninginmydreams says:

    This spoiler made me crave for more. Even if I know the whole plot itself, I still will watch this film. There are two things why viewers will watch this because of the story and the super effects and the actors and the director and the batman :D hahaha.

  12. Kenan says:

    i dont have a problem with ann hathaway but why not put something over all the hair….its more practical to not have all that hair in the way as she moves around like a cat….the movie will go hard tho

  13. name without says:

    Looks like another fascist movie from the Nolan.

  14. anon says:

    Is that Hines Ward?

  15. News Hit says:

    I am confused about things in the scene. Can someone help?

    Is the scene set at a refugee camp?

    Who is Selina referencing in this speech: "Sorry to spoil things, boys, but Bane needs these guys himself." Are the "guys" that Bane needs the prisoners and the "boys" are the guards? Does this suggest she is teaming with Bane or not?

  16. Bea Mused says:

    GET A LIFE PEOPLE! IT'S ONLY A MOVIE!

  17. Leilani says:

    No one will ever be able to match the brilliance of Michelle Pfeiffer's Cathwoman she should have won an Oscar for her performance in Tim Burton's first rate film Batmam Returns!

    I don't think Anne Hathaway is right for the role and quite frankly I loved what Halle Berry did in 2004 with her attempt (though she was not connected with "DC") I think the franchise should have just stopped after 1992 because Michelle was and always will be the PERFECT Catwoman period!

    • Dozer Man says:

      Many people said about Jack Nicholson what you said about Michelle Pfeiffer when they found out Heath Ledger was taking the iconic role of the Joker. We all see how that turned out.

  18. Steve says:

    That's HEDLEY Lamarr! (Sorry, couldn't resist a Blazing Saddles callback.)

  19. GIGI says:

    HATHAWAY WOULD OF MADE A GREAT HARLEY!!

  20. adventures says:

    looking forward to seeing her in her unitard

  21. RC31 says:

    Anne Hathaway is NO Hedy Lamarr!

  22. Rat-Man says:

    My favorite Catwoman was Michelle Pfieffer's portrayal in Batman Returns.

  23. Andre's says:

    Michelle Pfieffer did a great job as Catwoman I love Batman Returns! I think Anne Hathaway is going to do a great job! When July 2012 gets here I think people are gonna be like Damn she is amazing as catwoman. Its gonna be one great movie and a hell of a performance

  24. Andre's says:

    Michelle Pfieffer did a great job as Catwoman very sexy I love Batman Returns! I think Anne Hathaway Is going to be a great Catwoman also! She is a very good actress! When July 2012 gets here I think people are gonna be like dang she is an amazing Catwoman.

  25. Andresjordan says:

    Michelle Pfieffer did a great job as Catwoman very dark very sexy I Love Batman Returns! Anne Hathaway is also very sexy but more then that she is a great actress and has put alot of work into this role! when July 2012 comes around I think people are gonna be like damn she is an amazing Catwoman!

  26. fullmoon106 says:

    I like Hathaway and I think she will be great Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The story seems to be really good. I just really don't like her suit. I think Catwoman has much better looking and more practical suits in the comics and the animated series. That 60s domino mask look they went for didn't look very good back then and it still doesn't.

    It would be more practical to just keep all that hair under a cowl if you're doing a lot of fighting and physical stuff. And why wear high heels? Just to make clawmarks on somebody? Wouldn't it be more practical to just wear regular boots and use somesort of claws/sharp weapon for leaving clawmarks than high heels? Why would she make things even harder to herself than they allready are by running around in high heels?

    This could be the best Catwoman on film to date, but it's really dissapointing that they went with this suit. I think the current suit she wears in the comics would have been great. I hope we will see that someday, but it will probably take another 20 years or so. Still, very excited about the movie!

  27. Mac says:

    I'm kind of sick of all the brit actors with fake american accents. Hate how Bale mumbles every line almost intelligibly. When will America take back its literary heritage. Leave the brits to the puppets on strings movies and little wizards waving their wands hocum. American actors for American characters.

  28. apt221bbakerst says:

    I am toying with seeing this movie only because of Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway. I am so tired of the darkness and violence that the Batman movies have seriously. We have enough negativity and darkness in our lives right now why would we want to see it on the screen? I didn't even see the second Batman movie because I didn't want to see the darkness and there was too much advertising for it that I got tired of hearing about it.

  29. Acting Talent says:

    She could never entertain the public with talent like Heath Ledger.

  30. R S says:

    @Mac

    America taking back it’s literary heritage blah blah Brits should stick with wizards blah blah herp deh derp..

    Dumbass, you do realise that this literary heritage is British don’t you? Where did the English language come from… Oh that’s right, England!! Also the reason british actors are in these roles is that there aren’t any americans good enough to do it.

    Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine are all far superior to any american actors you could think of for the roles. And Heath Ledger (although he was Australian not British) was the best Joker ever, better than any american jokers so far.

    So, ya’know… Quit trollin.

  31. witty says:

    definitely Michelle Pfeiffer was the best. she could show a very sophisticated type of cruelty exsuding. Halle Berry is one of those actresses without an inch of talent. I remember her eyes without make up had an "ape" dull kind of stare. Vanessa Williams would have been fantastic.
    I am afraid that Anne Hathaway is NOT catwoman. She lacks total felinity. Remember Ingrid Bergman? She had it abundantly. Diana Rigg was unique in that sense. She made leather the classiest skin. I think Nolan should have found the Christian Bale's female twin. Anne is not intensive at all. When I look at her I want to zap. Something not genuine about her.
    Even Rose Byrne would be much better. That intensity in the eyes combined with a rare gift to look vulnerable but invincible at same time.
    Nolan should have made more efforts with the casting. Maybe Christian Bale's cousin was the one.

  32. Conrad Veidt says:

    She'd make a more convincing "Horsewoman" – I bet she could eat an apple through a picket fence!

  33. I don’t know who the best was. Julie Newmar seems to take the crown but she had the distinct advantage of wearing long hair with her costume. I do know for certain who the worst was though. Hands down Eartha Kitt was the worst Catwoman ever.

  34. jonathan says:

    Julie Newmar is the best Catwoman, Anne Hathaway might do all right if she comes on to Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.

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