April 20th, 2020 / 0 comments


Matt Reeves talks The Batman with The New York Times, The Nerdist and Deadline

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*UPDATED: The Daily Beast interview after the cut*

Director Matt Reeves shared some of his vision for “The Batman” in new interviews with the New York Times and The Nerdist. Below are extracts, but you can read the full interviews with Matt at the above links. I do love this quote from The Nerdist “I just felt like well, what I’d love to do is to get a version of this Batman character where he’s not yet fully formed. Where there’s something to do in this context with who that guy would be in this world today, and to ground him in all of these broken ways.” I can’t wait to see what Rob does with a character like this. And given the current world situation and the training we’ve had for patience whilst following Rob’s career over the years – I’m more than happy to wait.

NEW YORK TIMES

Did you always want to make science fiction and fantasy?

I came to genre kind of late. When I first began filmmaking, I thought I wanted to make humanist, Hal Ashby-type comedies. That opportunity didn’t really present itself for me. But then I discovered how the surface of genre can be a way to use metaphors to do very personal work.

[On bringing a Hal Ashby [Director] touch] Is that really possible on a film like “The Batman,” where many masters have to be served?

Of course these things have to be mined in a way that can make these companies money. You never know whether the people in charge of those I.P.s [intellectual properties] are going to be open to your vision. But if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have done “Batman.” I was like, look, there have been some great “Batman” films and I don’t want to just make a “Batman” film. I want to do something that has some emotional stakes. My ambition is for it to be incredibly personal using the metaphors of that world. It feels like this really odd throwback to the movies I came up on from the ’70s, like “Klute” or “Chinatown.” I’m not saying we’re achieving anything like that. Those are masterpieces. But that’s the ambition.

What was it like to have a production of that size halted by a global pandemic?

The whole thing is quite surreal. As much as we wanted to proceed, we wanted to make sure we were safe. We didn’t want anyone on our crew to get sick. But there was a crew member who actually got it, an incredible dialect coach named Andrew Jack, and he passed away. We were all in utter shock and heartbroken. It’s been weeks since we shut down, so I don’t think it was passed among the crew. But it’s very, very upsetting.

When something like that happens, can you even begin to contemplate going back to work?

Of course, [I want] to come back when the time is right. I’ve worked on a few things where, for various reasons, you have to stop for a moment — a cast member gets sick, and you have to shut down for a week. You can take stock of what you’ve done and prepare for what’s coming. I don’t think it’s a moment where I’m going, “Why aren’t we shooting?” I’m thinking, “There are bigger things.”

Do you think the demand for this kind of escapism will be even greater when audiences are finally able to see it?

I hope so. With “Tales,” and what we’re trying to do with “Batman,” is create just enough distance so that you can have the fantasy of saying, wow, what if I could experience that one impossible thing? You have a level of wish fulfillment. But it connects to your life in a way that doesn’t feel entirely like an escape. It can really touch you, but it gives you just enough distance that you don’t have to feel the pain of it too much.

THE NERDIST

Though taking on Batman seems like it’d be a daunting task, Reeves told me that he approached it like any of his other projects. “I’m going to pitch the version of Batman that I would do, which is going to have a humanist bent. And who knows if they’ll have any interest? If they don’t, then I won’t do it. And that’ll be okay,” Reeves explained. “I was really lucky that they said yes.”

As for how those creative inclinations will impact The Batman, Reeves shared a little of what he was most excited to explore when it came to billionaire Bruce Wayne. “I wanted to do not an origin tale, but a tale that would still acknowledge his origins, in that it formed who he is. Like this guy, he’s majorly struggling, and this is how he’s trying to rise above that struggle,” Reeves explained. “But that doesn’t mean that he even fully understands, you know. It’s that whole idea of the shadow self and what’s driving you, and how much of that you can incorporate, and how much of it you’re doing that you’re unaware of.”

Reeves continued, “There’s something in there that feels very psychological, very emotional, and it felt like there was a way of exploring that along with the corruption in this place, Gotham. That feels very current. I think it always does. There’s almost no time when you can’t do a story about corruption. But today, it still seems incredibly resonant and maybe, from my perspective, maybe more so than maybe at other time.”

DEADLINE

“We’re not officially editing right now” says Reeves, providing an update to Deadline, “We’ve actually shot a quarter of the movie and I have been pouring through dailies, looking at takes, and what’s to come.”

Whether Batman would ultimately need to completely relocate outside of the UK to a safer enclave in the world, Reeves says, “It’s way too early to say. I can’t imagine we wouldn’t finish in London. The situation is fluid.”

Whether The Batman riffs off Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, one of Reeves’s favorite comics, or feature the Flying Graysons, Robin’s family, Reeves laughs. “I can’t give you the answers to any of that.” Many assume Reeves’s Batman will pay homage to Batman: Year One, given hints he’s dropped on Twitter.

As he’s diving into dailies, Reeves says he has no plans to re-write anything that he’s already written.

“It took me two years to work on that story, and it’s a very specific mystery noir that’s been really thought-out by me and my partners.”

However, what the down-time from filming allows Reeves to reconsider is “the tone of things. It happens any time you shoot anything. The unexpected — happy accidents and things you didn’t quite expect: That is the lightning in a bottle for something that is alive. I would say that the changes really have to do with ‘Oh, seeing the tone of this’ with these scenes we haven’t done which connect to that part of the storyline. It feels like there might be an opportunity to explore some of that unexpected tone that we found. With these movies, you never have enough prep time, because they’re so complex and so enormous in so many ways. It also gives me a moment to think about the larger sequences that have yet to come up and how I want to realize those,” adds Reeves.

THE DAILY BEAST

How are you faring during the pandemic? Obviously, The Batman has now been halted for the foreseeable future…

Thankfully, my family and I are doing well. We’re holed up here, and the silver lining is I have a lot of time with them that I probably would not otherwise be able to spend with them right now because I would be working on that movie. But it has been a really hard time, because one of our crew members out here actually got the virus and died. It’s been a very heartbreaking time. It’s one of those moments when you take stock of things, I think the way everyone is, because suddenly their lives are on hold, and they know people that are getting ill, and some people are getting very ill and dying. It’s very scary. It makes you really think about what matters.

Of course, there’s a part of me that’s frustrated that we were in the midst of this movie. But at the same time, I really think priorities are such that you’re like, hey, the one thing we don’t want to do is put anyone at risk. We want to make sure everyone is going to be as safe as they possibly can be. That’s why we shut down, and obviously, it was the right thing to do. That’s why everyone’s shut down.

Has this interruption granted you a unique opportunity to assess where you’re at with The Batman?

There is that thing too, when you get to push pause. I’ve worked on some other movies where, for various reasons, you have a shutdown—whether it’s an actor gets sick and needs time to recover, or actually one time I got sick and needed time to recover. I do find that any time you’re in the midst of something enormous where you can suddenly stop and take a little stock of where you’re at, that can be a creative gift as well. But I think the hardest thing is just that we lost a beloved crew member. That, to me, is something we’re all still dealing with.

How are you differentiating The Batman from its predecessors?

The way I loved Apes is the way that I loved Batman, actually. The only two franchises that might have been something I would have connected with, amazingly, are the ones I was approached by. That’s been a very special thing. I can’t say that about almost any other franchise, that they would have been the right fit for me. My thing about it, on both of them, is that I had a particular take that, for me, was personal. I feel like if I can’t approach something through a perspective that resonates with me on some personal level, I don’t know where to put the camera, and I don’t know how to talk to the actors. I also felt like there have been some great Batman movies, and I didn’t want to just do a Batman movie. I wanted to do a Batman movie that could be different.

I pitched them what I would do, and I said, look, I appreciate that you want me to do a Batman movie, but I don’t want to just do a Batman movie; I want to do a Batman movie that has a chance to be something different, and humanist, and can use the metaphors of the genre. It’s the same reason I did the Apes movies. Those movies were incredibly personal to me, despite the fact that they were what they were. So I made my pitch for what it would be, and to my great pleasure, it turned out that they were totally open to that. I took a tremendously long time working with my partners on writing that script, and they waited. And when I turned it in, they wanted to make it. I’ve been incredibly fortunate that they’ve been so open to it being different. And one of the exciting things about it is that it drew an incredibly interesting and talented number of actors to want to be involved in it. To me, that’s been the dream.

How were things going on The Batman before you had to pause production?

The short answer is that it’s been going great. We have an incredible cast and crew that I love working with. I’m working with the director of photography who I shot Let Me In with [Greig Fraser], who I just think is immensely talented. Bringing that partnership back to life has been incredibly exciting for me, and a lot of people whom I’ve worked with on other movies are back too. We’re all like a family making this movie, and it was going great. We shot about a quarter of the movie so far; we have three quarters to go. And when the time is right and it’s safe to do so, we’ll return to it. It was a really exciting period to be exploring. Robert is a fantastic actor, and we have so many great actors in it! It’s been really, really exciting to go on this journey with them, and to feel like we are trying to do something different.

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