The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive lead on several actresses being cast for roles in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. According to their sources, Nolan is looking to fill two roles: a love interest and a villain.
Several actresses have made the shortlist, among them Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Kate Mara and Charlotte Riley. Gemma Arterton is scheduled to test, but having just landed the female lead in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, she may have scheduling conflicts, according to Hollywood Reporter.
While Nolan remains as cryptic as ever regarding the next film, speculation continues on who might be its villain – or villains. The Hollywood Reporter seems to think that one of these actresses will be cast as Talia, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. While this may be the case, it doesn’t preclude the possibility of the film having a second female villain. The comic book Talia al Ghul has been an on and off again love interest of Batman, so it could be that the”love interest” and “villain” being cast actually mean “love interest/villain” and “villain.” There’s no reason to believe that the cinematic Batman’s next love interest will be a civilian, and if so, Talia would certainly fit the bill. Of course, Batman’s next girlfriend could also be a heroine. Personally, I’ve got a thing for Zatanna…
However, if we want to assume that the love interest being cast is another civilian like Rachel Dawson and that the matter of his next villain is a straight-ahead matter, Talia would be a fine choice. It’s a meaty role that comes packaged with the kind of moral ambiguity and dramatic tension Nolan seems to value.
Will Nolan’s reported female villain be the only villain? Will there be a male villain? I don’t know. I don’t really think that it’s all that necessary, provided that the script’s female character is written strong enough. If not Zalia, a good choice might be Harley Quinn. She has a huge fan following, and having the Joker’s corrupted psychiatrist/girlfriend come looking for Batman would be a nice way for Nolan to acknowledge Heath Ledger’s amazing performance – and keep Joker in the film, albeit indirectly – without seeming ghoulish. Plus, much like Batman’s other villains, Harley really doesn’t have any superpowers – she’s just a highly athletic homicidal maniac with a genius IQ and a physician’s knowledge of psychotropic drugs.
If Nolan wanted to take a more fantastical approach to his female villain, then Poison Ivy would be a logical choice. She’s another popular longtime Batman foe. That being said, I don’t think it will happen. Nolan has shied away from anything that smacks of superpowers thus so far.
You might wonder why I haven’t mentioned Catwoman as a possibility. Two words: Halle Berry. I think that as awesome a character that Catwoman is, Berry’s film has pretty much buried (Berried?) the role for a while. It’s radioactive now, and I don’t think anyone will want anything to do with it. It’s going to take a while for the casual filmgoing audience to forget that awful taste in their mouth long enough to give Catwoman another go. Much like how Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin killed the Batman film franchise for nearly a decade, Berry’s Catwoman has left this classic character as a no-go.
Out of all of the actresses being cast for the next film, Kiera Knightley would seem to be a shoo in. She made her genre bones playing lead in the Pirates of the Carribean franchise, not incidentally proving her capability to hold her own alongside Johnny Depp, another intense and idiosyncratic actor. This experience couldn’t hurt if she intends to work with Christian Bale. She’s a very good actress, as her turns in Atonement and Pride & Prejudice netted her several award nominations from respected organizations like BAFTA and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Anne Hathaway would also be a fine choice. Hathaway has grown up alot since The Princess Diaries, with well-received turns in Brokeback Mountain (which also featured Heath Ledger), Rachel Getting Married, The Devil Wears Prada and most recently, Love and Other Drugs. She was also at one time up for a role in the fourth Spider-Man film, so there’s at least some confirmation that the studios believe genre audiences will accept her.
Jessica Biel is arguably as well-known as Knightley and Hathaway, but in this writer’s opinion just doesn’t have the dramatic chops that the other two do. I consider her a long shot – a beautiful and successful long shot, but a long shot nonetheless. I won’t expect her to make the final cut.
Kate Mara is relatively unknown compared to the likes of Hathaway (incidentally, the two both played in Brokeback Mountain), Knightley and Biel. I consider her a wild card, as I also do Charlotte Riley. Just hazarding a guess, I’d probably expect to see Mara make the final cut before Riley. Even if Riley’s reported fiance Tom Hardy played in Inception, Nolan doesn’t seem to let nepotism be a deciding factor. Anyway, Mara has more experience than Riley, and if you want to count a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2, Mara has some experience with superheroes. Like The Hollywood Reporter, I just don’t think Gemma Atherton will have the time.
To conclude, my money is on Kiera Knightley and/or Anne Hathaway, but with Nolan, who really knows? I never would have thought Heath Ledger would be the next Joker – especially not the guy who would really nail the role – so I’ve been surprised before. What do you think?