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Colin Farrell and Paul Dano: The Riddles Surrounding Batman’s Supervillains

Increasingly, Bruce Wayne has fewer allies in his mission to defend the streets of Gotham City. It is at this moment that a ruthless assassin appears with the goal of destroying the political elite of the city. A series of cryptic clues and puzzles amidst several sadistic murders begin to lead Batman to this psychopath. For this you will have to immerse yourself in what deeper in this dark city.

batmandirected by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne (Batman), Paul Dano (The Riddler) and Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman), is available on HBO Max. The platform yielded to Time two interviews with the villains, with a penguin just beginning his career towards evil played by Colin Farrell and with the sadistic murderer, the Riddler (Paul Dano).

It’s an interesting moment in the lives of all these characters because it’s not the beginning, but it’s nowhere near where we’re used to seeing them in their evolution. So what was it like to get closer to that uncharted territory?

Paul Dano (Riddle): Yeah, I think on the cover of Matt’s script it said, “The Batman: A Year Two Story,” or something like that, so I immediately thought, okay, what does that mean, what is that? I think he very wisely chose not to go back to the origin, but the character is still in an almost immature/volatile state in his own journey. I think that’s the exciting terrain that we see Rob explore, and you can get a pretty strong feeling from the way he says “I am revenge” as to where the character is early in his career. And the same goes for all the other characters.

American actor Paul Dano played the Riddler in The Batman
American actor Paul Dano played the Riddler in The BatmanTOLGA AKMEN – AFP

One could say that Batman is not fixing the situation in Gotham City per se. When he puts fear and anger together, he’s not really going to fix anything at this point. But his character has a very interesting way of delving into that broken city, right?

paul dano: Yes. Well, I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling that they are promised things that they don’t receive. And I don’t think Gotham is a city that offers many exits or highs; I think there were probably a lot of promises over the years of hope or change, but I don’t know if those things ever come true in a city like Gotham. And I think Edward wants to help…

There’s something about DC supervillains: they’re not just bad guys, they’re very intriguing to watch and, I guess, play as well. Did you find that going from fan to actor within that world?

paul dano: I think the line between Batman and his villains has always been part of his power. I think that’s something that Matt really tapped into here and he wasn’t afraid to dig. The hero/villain thing sounds black and white, but there’s a lot of gray. And as you said, with fear or revenge being the driving forces, I don’t know if that’s the way to do good or not. And I think maybe the fact that Batman is also a person and that his transformation comes from trauma really…

Does it make him more relatable to his villains because he’s not superhuman? And he’s incredibly smart, as they all are.

paul dano: Exact. Both he and his villains are born from this Earth. And I think that’s part of what makes them so powerful and why they’ve tapped into the collective consciousness for so long.

What was it that drew you to this character and Matt’s version of the story?

Colin Farrell (The Penguin): I dedicate myself to life as an actor, but I also have a child inside me that is still alive. I grew up watching Adam West on the TV show and Burgess Meredith playing the Penguin. And I also loved Tim Burton’s first Batman, and his subsequent batman returnswith Danny DeVito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. So when I heard it, I got terribly excited about being able to embody it, getting closer to a character as iconic as Penguin.

Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin) in The Batman
Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin) in The BatmanWARNER BROS.

This movie takes place early in Batman’s career, so it’s also early days for The Penguin, or Oz, rather. That gave him the opportunity to introduce a version of this character that we haven’t seen in the movies either.

Colin Farrell: Yeah. I mean, he’s referred to as Penguin in the movie, but it’s expressly articulated in the script that he’s not particularly happy with that nickname. It is not something that he has embodied yet. It’s not something he’s gotten into. I don’t know if he ever agrees with that. I don’t know if it’s ever something that he’s adjusted to and okay with, because he understands that it can strike fear into people. But here it is Oz and he is someone who is on the rise, at least that’s how he sees himself. He is working within a criminal organization, but he is not at the top of the organization. He is close to the man at the top, Falcone, played by John Turturro. I don’t know if it’s his right hand man, but he’s very close to him.

Can you talk a little bit about how you found the character, physically?

Colin Farrell: When Mike Marino did his job on the makeup and designed the face, he pretty much designed Oz’s face, between that, what was on the page, and then conversations with Matt about Oz’s backstory and possibly where he was headed Oz, then it all became an incredibly exciting prospect for me. When I first read the script, I wasn’t sure how to get into it or what I could do with it.. But the conversations, like I say, with Matt and then seeing the extraordinary work that Mike Marino did, Oz just came to life right away.

The accent too, the voice. How did the voice influence your performance?

Colin Farrell: I have a dialect coach that I work with, with whom I’ve done about seven or eight films. Her name is Jessica Drake and she is wonderful. This is more than just working on sounds and accents. They investigate the character’s socioeconomic backgroundthe emotional and psychological background of the person, because we are not all just sounds that are the result of where we grew up geographically. That’s the highlight of an accent, but it’s the way we sound, the way we articulate, and our cadence… All of those things play into the design of an accent.

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