September 9th, 2021 / 0 comments

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While promoting The French Dispatch in Telluride, Jeffrey Wright also spoke about The Batman. Below are excerpts from IndieWire’s interview:

Jeffrey Wright remembers the moment last year when the UK production of “The Batman” shut down. The 55-year-old actor was a few months into playing police commissioner Jim Gordon for director Matt Reeves’ reboot of the DC Comics character when suddenly, in between takes, one of the actors coughed.

“Every head in the room swiveled toward that,” Wright said during an interview from a picnic table at the Telluride Film Festival, where he was promoting his role in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” which screened earlier in the weekend. “And I was spraying that whole room, so if I had it that particular day, everybody would’ve had it. We shut down the next day.”

Production on “The Batman” proved to be a constant rollercoaster for everyone involved, as the temporary delay last March turned into a six-month halt; three days after it resumed in September, an actor tested positive. (Most reports indicated that star Robert Pattinson was the one who got sick, though neither Warner Bros. or Pattinson’s representatives ever confirmed it.)

Wright said that he felt an immediate panic during the initial shoot and reached out to producer Dylan Wright with his concerns. “I was having conversations with him where I was like, ‘Hey, man, what exactly are we going to be doing here going forward?’” Wright said. “At that time, there were no travel restrictions from the UK, but the numbers were rising. I called my agent and said, ‘We have to get out of here. We may be isolated here. There’s no way in hell we’re going to be shooting. It’s about to go down.’”

Despite the hiccup with the positive test last fall, Wright said he was impressed by the new set of safety measures when the shoot got back into full swing two weeks later. “We went back to testing three times a week, then it became three times a week and N95 masks required at all times except when we were filming,” he said. “There were breaks and ventilation requirements and separate spaces for hair and makeup. We took it very seriously and were respectful. We got it done safely.”

Despite the differences in scale, Wright said he detected a lot of similarities between Anderson and “The Batman” director Reeves. “While one film is perhaps perceived as having more of an arthouse vibe and the other is anything but, there are similarities that exist between them. Both very specific and very clear in their visions,” he said. “They are demanding in the best way. Same shit, different set.”

Wright said he responded to Reeves’ ability to inject real-world events into the superhero genre. “I saw the themes around corruption and class tensions and all of the things that he wanted to bring from the outside into this world so it had some relevance,” he said. “It’s bringing fiction into non-fiction in a way that’s balanced and really cool.” He described the script as presenting a Gotham “unlike Gothams we’d seen before. It was a Gotham we could touch. The way the Batmobile was described, I understood the aesthetic we were going for was something really palpable. If you squint your eyes in some backstreet of New York, you could see it appear.”

Wright was mum on details about the next Anderson project (“Give me your email and I’ll send you the script,” he joked) as well “The Batman” itself. “Everything has become super-secret,” he said. “On ‘The Batman,’ we had like five layers of encryption to figure out what we were filming the next day.”

… For now, though, it’s the 2022 release of “The Batman” that he’s anticipating as an antidote to the challenges of the past year and a half. “We can have faith in the Batman when we can’t have faith necessarily in each other,” he said. “In the history of human events, it seems that it’s always the end of the world. But I think perhaps that’s because we predicated it. We have met the enemy and it is us.”

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