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Film

Michael Caine’s unusual audition for ‘Batman Begins’

@Russellisation

When it comes to Batman, there is undoubtedly only one film that gets fans talking, and no we’re not talking about Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy is well known for producing some of the most influential films of modern cinema including The Dark Knight featuring the late Heath Ledger in his most iconic film role and The Dark Knight Rises which caused commercial furore upon its release in 2012.

Having never helmed a major big-budget release before, Nolan came to the DC superhero character in 2005 with a distinct vision as to where he wanted to take Batman. Inspired by Frank Miller’s comic Batman: Year One, Nolan’s new, gothic take on Batman was a world away from the strange comic-book style of previous directors, with Batman Begins focusing on the brooding anger of the titular character and the grit and grime of the city itself. 

Played by Christian Bale, the film felt fresh and revolutionary, boasting an impressive cast of supporting actors that included, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and the great Michael Caine. 

Having since become a staple of the director’s filmography, Caine has appeared in seven other Nolan films including Inception, Interstellar and even Dunkirk where he lends his voice to an unseen narrator. The first film in the caped crusader’s trilogy, Batman Begins, was his first encounter with Nolan, however, and the audition process was a particularly strange one. 

Living close by to Nolan in the England countryside, as Michael Caine told The Hollywood Reporter, on a Sunday morning the director knocked on his door and presented him with the script for the superhero movie. Introducing himself, Nolan asked if he wanted to be in the movie before handing him the script. 

Asking if he could read it in his own time, Caine recalls the director exclaiming, “No. I want you to read it while I’m still here”. Cue an intense script-read, in which Caine and Nolan sat at the table whilst the actor read the script and Nolan awaited his response. Thankfully for the director, Caine appreciated the new take on the butler character, Alfred and agreed to take the role. 

“That’s the first thing I found out about Chris: he is the most secretive person on earth,” Caine told the publication, with the director becoming known for keeping many of his projects secret until close to the release date. “I had dinner sitting next to him, last night, for three hours. And I know nothing about his next project,” Caine added back in 2015.

Though he is usually very secretive, his latest film Oppenheimer, about the controversial American scientist and father of the Atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, is already being heavily advertised on news platforms, with casting announcements being revealed seemingly every day. So far, the likes of Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Josh Peck and Matt Damon are already on board.