Christopher Nolan Found A Clever Way To Get Cillian Murphy Cast As Scarecrow In ‘Batman Begins’

Cillian Murphy is the star of one of the most anticipated movies of this summer, and one that’s among the least summer movie-y: Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, about the father of the atomic bomb. It’s not the first time the two have worked together. Indeed, it’s their sixth. Nolan clearly likes keeping him around, even if he usually plays smaller roles. But when Nolan first decided he wanted him in one of his films, he had to find a clever way to get execs to take a chance on him.

In a new profile of the two by Entertainment Weekly (in a bit caught by Insider), Murphy recalls when Nolan approached him for what would become their first film together, Batman Begins. But Murphy knew who he didn’t want to play.

“It was clear to me from the beginning that I wasn’t Batman material,” Murphy remembered.

Nolan concurred. “When we had our first conversation I think both of us knew that you weren’t going to wind up playing Batman,” he said. “But I really wanted to get on set with you, I wanted to get you on film.”

Instead, Nolan thought he should play one of the villains: Scarecrow. Batman movies usually cast big names as the baddies, and at the time Murphy, who had just had his breakthrough with 28 Days Later, was still a little green. So Nolan came up with a clever way to get execs on board with the idea: have Murphy audition for Batman, then see if the suits would be good with him taking another role instead.

They went all out, with Murphy saying he remembers “the buzz of trying on the suit,” saying, “Those tests were high production values.”

“We did those screen tests very elaborately, on 35mm, with a little set,” Nolan added. “There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when you started to perform. We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you were doing on set. Everybody was so excited by watching you perform.”

After Murphy’s Batman audition, Nolan attempted to get execs on-board with him playing a villain instead.

“I then said to them, ‘Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?’ there was no dissent,” Nolan said.

Murphy would reprise the role, albeit briefly, in Nolan’s next two Batman outings. Since then he’s given him smaller roles in Inception and Dunkirk. But with Oppenheimer, which could be Nolan’s longest film yet, he graduates to the lead. Good for him.

(Via EW and Insider)