Friday, June 2, 2023

Christopher Nolan made Warner Bros. execs watch Cillian Murphy’s audition as Batman to cast him as Scarecrow

He wasn’t going to cast him as Batman, Christopher Nolan made Cillian Murphy take the screentest to show execs who he wanted for Scarecrow.

As the promotion train starts rolling for Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s new drama about the creation of the atomic bomb, he and his star Cillian Murphy have been reflecting on their collaboration since 2005’s Batman Begins. Murphy played the mysterious Dr. Crane, who took on the alter ego of Scarecrow when executing his role in the League of Shadows’ plot to destroy Gotham City. Since then, the duo have worked together again five more times, including Oppenheimer.

According to Variety, Christopher Nolan told Entertainment Weekly that it took some coercing to get Murphy on Batman Begins. He knew he wanted to work with him, but he also knew he probably wouldn’t get the role of Batman after his audition. Nolan recalls to Murphy, “When we had our first conversation, I think both of us knew that you weren’t going to wind up playing Batman. But I really wanted to get on set with you, I wanted to get you on film. We did those screen tests very elaborately, on 35mm, with a little set. There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when you started to perform.”

Even though Nolan didn’t have the intention of casting him as Batman, he would make Murphy take the screentest anyway, so he could persuade Warner Bros. to hire him as Scarecrow. Nolan continued, “Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, ‘Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?’ There was no dissent. All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing. That was a big leap for them, and it really was purely on the basis of that test. So that’s how you got to play Scarecrow.”

Murphy admitted, “It was clear to me from the beginning that I wasn’t Batman material. It felt to me that it was correct and right that it should be Christian Bale for that part. But I remember the buzz of trying on the suit and being directed by you. Those tests were high production values.” Scarecrow would then return in little cameo appearances in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, however Murphy would work with Nolan more in-depth with Inception and Dunkirk before getting Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer drops into theaters on July 21.

Originally published at

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