FROM THE NEWS ARCHIVES OF CINEMA CONFIDENTIAL

INTERVIEW: Morgan Freeman & Gary Oldman on "Batman Begins"
POSTED ON 06/14/05 AT 11:00 A.M.
BY ETHAN AAMES

By Sean Chavel in Los Angeles

At a Beverly Hills hotel, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman were recently interviewed to discuss their new film "Batman Begins." Freeman and Oldman seem to share a rapport even though they don’t share any screen time together in the movie. Freeman plays Lucius Fox and Oldman plays Jim Gordon in the movie.

Q: Morgan, you get to play with all of the toys in the movie. I just kept thinking of a kid in a candy store.

FREEMAN: You’re perception of this character is big kid. My perception of this character is professional engineer. This stuff is everyday to me, not a big kid in a candy store. So I didn’t have that concept of it.

Q: The movie is trying to be a serious movie. Was that an approach that was in both of your mindsets?

OLDMAN: Yeah, I like what it stands for…right and wrong, good and bad, justice prevails. The family, for instance, even though it occupies a very tiny part of the movie, really a few minutes of screen time, it resonates with you. You carry that mother and father; it really carries all the way through, so that it’s a theme through the movie. It’s about compassion…I though it was most unusual in that respect. That this kind of genre, this kind of movie…it is a sort of a …fantasy.

FREEMAN: A fully realized story. You know we’re all familiar with “the batguy”. So that familiarity sort of demands something else. Which I think what Chris Nolan delivered. We knew that Batman’s parents were killed by some guy, but we don’t know what happened to him. We don’t know how he got to be Batman. Where did he get all this stuff? Where did he learn how to fight? This whole thing with the ninja comes out! That was perfect.

OLDMAN: Makes sense with…[Gary motions to his forearm]

Q: The gauntlets. It’s all functional, yes?

OLDMAN: It’s all functional, yeah. Instead of camp.

FREEMAN: When you do camp, you don’t know where you’re going I think. It’s like “ha, ha, that didn’t work, here!”

Q: Gary, were you a fan of the Batman comics as a child?

OLDMAN: I wasn’t a huge fan of the comics. Just not one of those kids.

FREEMAN: He was reading Ibsen and Chekhov! [LAUGHS]

OLDMAN: In the original language! (LAUGHS) I liked movies more than I…and then I saw the series in the 60s, with Adam West. So I used to stay in. That was before the days… what is it? “Same time, same bat channel?” And this is before videos. I remember having like, one of these [motions to tape recorder] things, but it was a very archaic version of a tape recorder. And you would tape shows off the tv, just have the audio.

FREEMAN: Oh really?

Q: Next to the speaker?

OLDMAN: Yeah, put it right up next to the T.V., you know? And then the power would go down, and the five schillings would run out. The meter would go, in the middle of a show, you know what I mean, and that dot would go on the tv, and you’d go “Mom! Mom! I’m in the middle of Batman!” So yeah, I used to watch that show. That’s the one I really sort of remember. It doesn’t hold up! [LAUGHS] I saw it last week.

Q: Why were you recording off the T.V., so you could recite lines from a T.V. show?

OLDMAN: Yeah, I just used to always…long before I wanted to be an actor, I got… you know that wonderful, wonderful…the Dustin Hoffman Lenny?

FREEMAN: Oh yes.

OLDMAN: Who was the director?

Q: Bob Fosse.

OLDMAN: I remember, before I’d ever even seen the movie, I’d found the record. I thought it was music, and I put this thing on, I didn’t even know how I came by it, it was in an attic or somewhere, or someone had it, and it was all those monologues.

FREEMAN: Lenny Bruce?

OLDMAN: Yeah, with Dustin Hoffman doing it.

FREEMAN: Really?

OLDMAN: Yeah, the soundtrack from the movie. So I just learned them all, before I even had an idea that I wanted to be an actor. I used to be at school, and I used to be the only 13, 14 year old walking around going, “Eleanor Roosevelt gave Lou Gehrig the clap.” I didn’t even know what I was talking about! So I used to tape stuff…

Q: Did you ever confuse or bewilder your teachers?

OLDMAN: No, it was with my friends. I was far too timid in class to upset the teachers.

Q: What type of movies appealed to you as a kid?

OLDMAN: Well the first movie I saw at the cinema was "A Hard Day’s Night."

Q: What was that like?

OLDMAN: Fantastic. My sister took me. But I’ll watch anything…almost anything.

Q: What made you want to become an actor?

OLDMAN: Malcolm McDowell. I saw him on the T.V. one night and I just went “that’s what I want to do. I want to be doing that.” And that’s it.

Q: What about you Morgan? Did you have a moment where you knew what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?

FREEMAN: I don’t recall it like that. It was a gradual realization that there wasn’t anything else….By the time I was 15, I sort of established myself as one. I’d try to do other things, other jobs. But teachers would tell you, ‘You’re an actor.’ Nobody ever saw me as anything but an actor.

Q: Are you lined up for the sequel?

FREEMAN: I’m not lined up, they don’t line me up.

OLDMAN: Oh, they’re gonna call you. I think so.

FREEMAN: From your mouth to God’s ears. Conventional belief is that they’re gonna call me.

OLDMAN: I think Christian [Bale] signed for three, yeah. I’m signed to do the next film. [Turns to Morgan] They’ll be calling you. And we got the Joker next time.

Q: Any word on who will be playing him?

FREEMAN: No.

Q: You always play the "bad guy". What's it like playing the good guy?

OLDMAN: People say, “What’s it like playing the good guy?” It hangs in the gallery of all the other good guys.

Q: Which good guy that you’ve played should we go back and rent?

OLDMAN: Beethoven, "Immortal Beloved." I think Dracula’s hardly a bad guy [in Bram Stoker’s Dracula]. He’s a vampire, yes, but more. A tragic romantic…misunderstood!

"Batman Begins" opens June 15th.

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Other Stories for 06/14/05

  • INTERVIEW: Morgan Freeman & Gary Oldman on "Batman Begins"

  • Freeman and Oldman talk about the new Batman feature.

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