Christopher Nolan Had to Trick WB Into Casting Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins

Cillian Murphy's Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow goes mad in Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan was so eager to cast Cillian Murphy in 2005’s Batman Begins that he had to play a trick on Warner Bros. executives to get them to watch the talented actor audition for a role that Nolan knew he wouldn’t land.

During a chat with Entertainment Weekly, Nolan and Murphy revealed that the actor was seeking the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, which ultimately went to Christian Bale. As soon as their first conversation, the pair knew that Murphy wouldn’t be the new Caped Crusader, but Nolan wanted to screen-test the actor on set and on film because he wanted to get Warner Bros. on board to cast Murphy as the villain Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. “We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you [Murphy] were doing on set,” the director said.


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Murphy recalled the screen tests as well during the chat — and while he says it was clear that he “wasn’t Batman material,” he did remember the energy of the initial tests for the film. “I remember the buzz of trying on the suit and being directed by you [Nolan],” the actor said. “Those tests were high production values.” Speaking on the moment further, Nolan also remembered what it was like when the WB executives saw Murphy perform. The director explained, “Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, ‘Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?’ There was no dissent. All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing. That was a big leap for them and it really was purely on the basis of that test. So that’s how you [Murphy] got to play Scarecrow.”

Cillian Murphy’s History With Christopher Nolan

In Batman Begins, Murphy’s Scarecrow is a corrupt psychopharmacologist who works as the Chief Administrator of Arkham Asylum. Specializing in the psychology of fear, he has secretly created a fear toxin and uses his position as Dr. Jonathan Crane to help Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) expose the entire Gotham City population to his latest concoction. Murphy would go on to reprise the role in Nolan’s The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

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After continuing to work with Nolan in a supporting capacity in films such as Inception and Dunkirk, Murphy gets to lead the director’s latest effort, Oppenheimer. Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist that is credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb.” Hitting the big screen on July 21, the film also stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh and many more.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, via Variety


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