The only major cast member on the set of the new "Batman" movie who doesn't have his own private trailer with his name on the door is Batman himself, actor Christian Bale. Michael Caine, who plays Batman's trusted butler, Alfred, has one, as does Katie Holmes, who plays love interest Rachel Dodson. But what about Bale? If you're looking for him, try knocking on the trailer door with a sign that reads BRUCE WAYNE. (That's Batman's alter ego. But you knew that.) If it all sounds a bit Method-actor fussy, well, it is. But Bale doesn't come across that way. Between takes of a scene in the dank, monstrous Batcave—erected on a soundstage at Shepperton Studios outside London and complete with lagoon, waterfall and subterranean bachelor pad—Holmes tries to engage Bale, 30, in a quick rehearsal. "Is Sergeant Gordon your friend?" she asks, running one of her lines. "Yes," a fully costumed Bale answers in his thick, icy baritone. "He's very warm, very comforting. I like to be held." Later, Bale hums as a makeup guy gives him a retouching. "The next one'll be a musical?" the man asks. Bale grins. "Yeah, they'll call it 'Batman!' with an exclamation point."
He lives in the real world—it's sort of New York on steroids, but it's our world." Director Christopher Nolan pored over 65 years of comics and came up with this story: after a long exile, Wayne, now a 25-year-old scion, returns to Gotham City intent on kicking criminal butt. His family's military subcontracting business, Wayne Enterprises, has been seized by shareholders, who've relegated the company's most ambitious designs—and their inventor, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman)—to the scrapheap. Wayne befriends Fox, using his designs to create an alter ego. And not a moment too soon because, naturally, there's a villain on the loose named the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy of "28 Days Later"), who's hellbent on poisoning all of Gotham.
It's a comic-book tale, but Nolan promises that "Batman Begins," which also stars Liam Neeson and Gary Oldman, won't look anything like a comic-book movie. In contrast to the gothic fantasia of Burton's creation, Nolan has opted for gritty urban realism. At a converted airplane hangar an hour north of London, his crew has built a full city block of Gotham, much of it based on the towering slums of Kowloon in Hong Kong, which were razed in 1994. But the starting point for his vision, the director says, was the new Batmobile. Last year Nolan holed up in his garage in Los Angeles with production designer Nathan Crowley and hammered out a design that would make sense for the story. What they came up with is a drastic departure. The vehicle's rear is stacked with four 44-inch Humvee tires, and the front is covered in jagged plates of armor. It looks like something Pablo Picasso might take to a monster-truck rally—a muscle car for a tortured soul. Perfect for Batman.
The Batmobile may have been step one, but on the set, nothing gets more attention than the Batsuit. Whenever Bale is in costume, two people trail him to keep it smudge-free; another person is charged with making sure his cape billows dramatically. On a converted parking lot at Shepperton, the crew has built an entire village of trailers, dubbed Cape Town, where chemists and costume art-ists churn out neoprene-and-foam-latex Batsuits by the bushel. In the movie, the suit is translucent at first: it's a futuristic military design complete with body armor and muscle-recovery devices. Wayne sprays it black to camouflage it. "Chris wanted a serious, matte finish—not shiny or gloopy," says costume designer Lindy Hemming. "We didn't want to depart from the classic silhouette, but we also didn't want to go too much in the homoerotic direction." Got it: no nipples.
On this particular day, Bale has been in the Batsuit for nine hours, and his brain is starting to boil. But he keeps up his good humor. After one take, Nolan instructs him to try a line again with more intensity, and Bale answers with a riff inspired by "This Is Spinal Tap": "How much more Batman can you get? The answer is: none. None more Batman." Later, freed of his suit, Bale plugs his nose with a handkerchief soaked in Olbas oil, a Swiss remedy for headaches. "This is obviously the highest-profile movie I will probably ever do," Bale says, taking a drag on his hand-rolled cigarette. "And sometimes on a huge movie like this, every take becomes an event. You can easily lose any kind of intimacy. But it feels as good as it can here, because at the core of this huge production is Chris Nolan." And if "Batman" is going to begin again, it's all up to the man at the top.
In addition, UGO has video up of the new 'Batmobile'.
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