Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

15 Loverly Facts About My Fair Lady

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

For decades, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion looked like a play that could never be turned into a musical. Then, in 1956, it was adapted into the definitive musical. Sixty years ago today, My Fair Lady made its Broadway debut. Adapted from Shaw’s masterpiece, the new show dazzled critics and audiences alike—and, a few years later, was turned into an award winning movie featuring Audrey Hepburn. Here are a few facts about the crowd pleaser in honor of its birthday.

1. IT’S ROOTED IN GREEK MYTHOLOGY.

Pygmalion is named after a mythical artist who supposedly sculpted an ideal woman—only to fall in love with the statue. A product of ancient Greek folklore, this character would later be immortalized by the Roman poet Ovid, who wrote about him in Book 10 of The Metamorphoses. Similarly, the male lead in Shaw’s Pygmalion—phonetics professor Henry Higgins—tries to “sculpt” a lower-class working girl into a well-spoken English lady.

2. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW DIDN’T WANT PYGMALION TO GET THE MUSICAL THEATER TREATMENT.  

In 1908, composer Oscar Straus amazed audiences with The Chocolate Soldier, an operetta based on Shaw’s 1894 play Arms and the Man. But the success of this adaptation ultimately hurt the creator of its source material. During The Chocolate Soldier’s run, few theaters were willing to produce Arms and the Man—and Shaw’s wallet took a hit.

During his lifetime, several producers and directors told Shaw that Pygmalion might make for a terrific musical, but financial considerations kept him from letting anybody take a crack at converting it into one. As Shaw told Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehar, “A Pygmalion operetta is quite out of the question … Pygmalion is my most steady source of income: it saved me from ruin during the war, and still brings in a substantial penny every week.” Having been burned before, Shaw swore he’d never “allow a comic opera to supplant it.”

3. RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN TRIED (AND FAILED) TO MAKE A PYGMALION MUSICAL.

When Shaw died in 1950, producer Gabriel Pascal held the rights to Pygmalion. Over the next few years, he asked several writers if they could develop a musical adaptation. Most didn’t get very far. At one point, Pascal handed the assignment off to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. On paper, they looked like the perfect men for the job: The ingenious duo had defined and re-defined the American musical with classic shows like Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The King and I. But despite their past successes, the challenge of Pygmalion proved too great. Apart from its heavy reliance on dialogue, the play—unlike most Rodgers and Hammerstein shows—didn’t come with an overt love story. Before long, they abandoned the project.

Undeterred, Pascal turned to the creative minds behind Paint Your Wagon: librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. In 1952, he asked if these two would be interested. Both said “yes,” but just half a year later, they also gave up. Then, in 1954, Pascal passed away at the age of 60. His untimely death returned Lerner and Loewe’s thoughts to Pygmalion. Deciding that the project was worth one more try, they painstakingly began writing what was to become My Fair Lady.

4. MALE LEAD REX HARRISON GOT THROUGH HIS SONGS WITH A FLEXIBLE “TALK-SINGING” STYLE.

When Harrison landed the role of Henry Higgins, it certainly wasn’t because of his singing voice. Indeed, the veteran actor told Lerner and Loewe that he’d never sung on stage before. Fortunately, Higgins’ songs weren’t too vocally demanding and, throughout much of the show, Harrison simply talked to a musical beat. “I was using the melody, but not singing it,” he explained to the BBC. “I mean, I could use [musical] notes, and sometimes when I was doing the play I used to use quite a lot of the notes. Sometimes I would use hardly any of the notes. But I was able to sort of jiggle it about.” (In the show's movie adaptation, the intricacy of the patter songs led to Harrison singing them live on set—an anomaly at the time.)

5. DIRECTOR MOSS HART TOOK TWO DAYS OFF TO WORK WITH JULIE ANDREWS ONE-ON-ONE.

When Julie Andrews, then just 19, was cast as Eliza Doolittle, the young actress found herself intimidated by the part. “[It] became obvious … that I was hopelessly out of my depth as Eliza Doolittle,” she said. To help his star find her footing, Hart canceled a weekend of full-cast rehearsals and gave Andrews step-by-step assistance. “For those two days,” she recalls, “… [we] hammered through each scene—everything from Eliza’s entrance, her screaming and yelling, to her transformation into a lady at the end of the play.” All that hard work really paid off: Once normal rehearsals resumed, just about everyone noticed a dramatic boost in Andrews’ confidence.

6. THE SHOW HAD A NUMBER OF WORKING TITLES.

At first, the show went by Liza, which eventually evolved into Lady Liza. However, Harrison didn’t care for either name because he felt that they both relegated his character to second fiddle status. A number of alternatives were then tossed around—including Fanfaroon, a British slang term meaning “one who brags about himself.” Finally, Loewe and Lerner lifted the words my fair lady from the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down.” This three-word title satisfied Harrison, and the rest is history.

7. A DEAD PENGUIN WAS THE ORIGINAL RUN’S BACKSTAGE MASCOT.

A dedicated Shaw fan, Harrison wanted My Fair Lady to resemble its source material as closely as possible. At rehearsals, he habitually brought along a Penguin edition copy of the Pygmalion script. Whenever a line of My Fair Lady’s dialogue didn’t seem right to Harrison, he’d look up and shout “Where’s my Penguin?”

One day, Lerner decided to have a little fun with this. “I went to a taxidermist,” he told the Glasgow Herald, “and purchased a stuffed penguin. The next time Rex cried out ‘Where’s my Penguin?’ the stuffed bird was rolled on to the stage … and everyone howled with laughter.” Apparently, Harrison took it with good humor. After the incident, he stopped asking for his Penguin script—and kept the deceased avian in his dressing room as a mascot.

8. THE RAIN IN SPAIN STAYS MAINLY IN THE … HILLS AND MOUNTAINS.

Get your facts straight, Henry Higgins! In one of Act I’s most popular songs, Higgins, Eliza, and Colonel Pickering declare that “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” But catchy as it may be, the little number is not meteorologically accurate. Every year, Spain’s northern hills and mountains receive far more rainfall than the plains to the south.

9. THE VERY FIRST PREVIEW WAS ALMOST CANCELED.

Before it came to Broadway, My Fair Lady had its opening preview in New Haven, Connecticut on February 4, 1956. Unfortunately, Rex Harrison nearly derailed the production. Earlier that day, there was a last-minute rehearsal with the orchestra—which Harrison had never heard before. As soon as they started playing, the actor’s self-doubts about his singing voice immediately resurfaced. “Mossy,” he said to Hart, “I’m not opening tonight and, as a matter of fact, I may never open.”

Hart decided to dismiss his cast and pull the performance. But Mother Nature had other ideas: A powerful snowstorm kept word of the show’s cancellation from getting out. Unaware of the backstage chaos, many ticket buyers showed up early. With a crowd gathering and the theater threatening legal action, Hart called everyone back. By then, though, the players had dispersed pretty widely. As assistant stage manager Jerry Adler recollects, messengers were dispatched “to restaurants, gyms, and even announced at a movie theater mid-screening that actors from My Fair Lady should report back to the theater.”

After everyone was tracked down, the curtain finally went up. To put it mildly, the audience got its money’s worth. Each number was met with uproarious applause—especially “The Rain in Spain.” There was so much clapping after the song that the actors felt compelled to take an unscripted bow before moving on.

10. FIFTEEN MINUTES OF MATERIAL WAS CUT.

The Connecticut crowd may have loved what they saw at the preview, but My Fair Lady’s creators thought there was room for improvement. To shorten the show's runtime, seven songs were deleted. Among them was a tender ballad called “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight.” Conceived as a solo for Eliza, this song later appeared in the movie musical Gigi (1958)—which Lerner and Loewe scored.

11. THE ORIGINAL CAST RECORDING TOPPED THE BILLBOARD CHARTS.

For 15 weeks, the show's album held down the number one slot. Within its first year alone, the My Fair Lady cast recording became the best-selling album that Columbia Records had ever seen, netting $5 million that year. Over the next 10 years, it would sell a then-impressive 5 million copies.

12. FOR THE 1964 FILM VERSION, AUDREY HEPBURN’S SINGING VOICE WAS DUBBED OVER.

When Warner Bros. decided to make an adaptation of My Fair Lady for the silver screen, the studio asked Rex Harrison to reprise his role. Julie Andrews, in contrast, received no such invitation: The actress was not yet a household name, so producer Jack Warner passed her over for the better-known Audrey Hepburn.

Hepburn’s inexperienced pipes caused some concern. Upon landing the role of Eliza, she began working tirelessly on her songs with a vocal coach. Still, director George Cukor decided that Hepburn would have to be dubbed over. Ultimately, 95 percent of Eliza’s singing in My Fair Lady was performed by Marni Nixon, who’d done similar dub work for The King and I (1956) and West Side Story (1961).

Meanwhile, being replaced by Hepburn was arguably the best thing that could have happened to Julie Andrews: It freed her up to star in a little movie called Mary Poppins. At the 1965 Golden Globes, Andrews was nominated for Mary Poppins, and Hepburn was nominated for My Fair Lady. Andrews was victorious, and after claiming her award, Andrews wrapped up her speech by saying, “Finally, my thanks to a man who made a wonderful movie and who made all this possible in the first place: Mister Jack Warner.” To his credit, he laughed right along with everyone else. Andrews would go on to win an Oscar for her performance in Mary Poppins, too.

13. AT ITS TIME, THE MY FAIR LADY MOVIE WAS THE HIGHEST-GROSSING PICTURE IN WARNER BROTHERS HISTORY.

Following its release on Christmas Day 1964, the film version of My Fair Lady brought in a studio-best $72 million. At the following Academy Awards, it won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (for Harrison), and Best Director (for Cukor). By comparison, the musical’s original Broadway production brought home six Tonys—one of which provided Harrison with yet another Best Actor title. 

14. HARRISON’S PROFESSOR HIGGINS HELPED INSPIRE A POPULAR FAMILY GUY VOICE.

A hardcore musical theater buff, Seth MacFarlane has long revered Harrison—and particularly his performance in My Fair Lady“In college, I had sort of worked up an impression of Rex Harrison in order to get girls,” show creator MacFarlane once said. While developing a voice for Stewie Griffin—Family Guy’s maniacal baby—he decided to go with a snobby British dialect that sounds distinctly Higgins-esque.

15. JULIE ANDREWS IS CURRENTLY DIRECTING A 60TH ANNIVERSARY REVIVAL IN AUSTRALIA.

To celebrate 60 years of Ascot races and dancing all night, Sydney’s world-famous Joan Sutherland Theatre asked Andrews if she’d consider directing a new production of the show that helped make her a star. Andrews said she was thrilled to accept. My Fair Lady is, as she puts it, “a beautifully-constructed musical, which is its strength, really.”

Andrews won’t be the revival’s only link to the 1956 version. The show, which opens this August, will also base its sets and costumes upon designs used by the original creative team. 

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters for a 10th Anniversary IMAX Re-Release
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, today marks the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Warner Bros. is bringing the movie back to four IMAX theaters for a limited one-week engagement in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto, beginning on August 24th, Variety reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

The film will be screening at California's AMC Universal Citywalk Imax, New York's AMC Lincoln Square Imax, San Francisco's AMC Metreon Imax, and Toronto's Ontario Place Cinesphere Imax. Tickets for the limited engagement go on sale on Friday, July 20th.

[h/t: Variety]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
© TM & DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
19 Surprising Facts About The Dark Knight
© TM & DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
© TM & DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Christopher Nolan didn’t set out to make sequels. As the director of hit thrillers like Memento and Insomnia, his personal style never seemed to mesh with the idea of helming a mega-franchise. After reenvisioning the Caped Crusader with 2005’s Batman Begins, though, Nolan couldn’t stop thinking about how his version of Batman would respond to the introduction of The Joker. The result was The Dark Knight, a hyper-real exploration of how chaos shakes up the mission of the righteous, complete with huge stars, incredible stunts, and an Oscar-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger. To revisit this landmark movie, which was released 10 years ago, here are 19 fascinating facts about The Dark Knight.

1. IT HAS MANY COMIC BOOK INSPIRATIONS.

While it doesn’t adapt any one specific story to the screen, The Dark Knight did draw inspiration from several specific Batman stories in the pages of DC Comics. When researching and writing the film, director Christopher Nolan and his brother, co-writer Jonathan Nolan, specifically went back to The Joker’s very first appearance in 1940’s Batman #1 in search of how best to introduce the character. Co-writer David S. Goyer, himself a DC Comics contributor, also cites the classic stories The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Killing Joke as keys to his research, with elements from each making their way into the film.

2. THE JOKER ALSO HAD DIVERSE INSPIRATIONS.

Heath Ledger in 'The Dark Knight' (2008)
© TM & DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

In addition to classic Joker stories like The Killing Joke, Nolan and star Heath Ledger drew on a diverse array of influences both in and out of comics to craft the film’s version of the Clown Prince of Crime. Before attempting to write the character, the Nolan brothers revisited Fritz Lang’s classic film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse as a study in how to write supervillains. Visually, Nolan also specifically cited the work of painter Francis Bacon as a touchstone for Joker’s distorted view of the world.

As for Ledger, he famously locked himself away in a hotel room for weeks, experimenting with voices and mannerisms until he developed something he was satisfied with. Among his inspirations: Sex Pistols icons Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious and the anarchist character Alex from Stanley Kubrick’s classic film A Clockwork Orange.

3. NOLAN WAS INITIALLY RELUCTANT TO MAKE A SEQUEL.

The Dark Knight is the first Christopher Nolan film to be a sequel, and though Batman Begins ends with Gordon handing Batman the Joker card as a kind of setup for the next film, the director wasn't exactly determined to return to Gotham City. Nolan and Goyer had ideas for how a trilogy of films would happen, of course, but after Batman Begins hit big, Nolan instead went off to make magician drama The Prestige. Ultimately, the lure of telling a Joker story proved too enticing for Nolan to pass up, and he eventually re-teamed with Goyer to begin mapping out the story that would become The Dark Knight

“I didn’t have any intention of making a sequel to Batman Begins and I was quite surprised to find myself wanting to do it,” Nolan told Empire Magazine. “I just got caught up in the process of imagining how you would see a character like The Joker through the prism of what we did in the first film.”

4. HEATH LEDGER WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY THE JOKER.

Though other stars like Adrien Brody expressed an interest in playing the film’s key villain, Heath Ledger was the only name on Nolan’s wish list.

“When I heard he was interested in the Joker, there was never any doubt. You could just see it in his eyes,” Nolan told Newsweek. “People were a little baffled by the choice, it's true, but I've never had such a simple decision as a director.” 

5. YES, HEATH LEDGER REALLY DID KEEP A JOKER DIARY.

Because of the actor’s untimely death in January 2008, at the age of just 28, Ledger's performance as The Joker has been somewhat mythologized by fans, so the idea that he kept a secret “Joker diary” while getting into character might sound apocryphal. In fact, Ledger really did make a diary while preparing to play the character. It included various clipped art (Alex from A Clockwork Orange figures heavily), stylized notes, and even lines from the script recopied in his own handwriting. In 2013, Ledger’s father Kim revealed the diary in a documentary, and noted that his son did immersive work like this for every role but “really took it up a notch” for The Joker.

6. MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL WASN’T THE ONLY ACTRESS CONSIDERED FOR RACHEL DAWES.

For the role of Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend and current Gotham City assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes, Nolan had to look for a replacement. Katie Holmes played the role in 2005’s Batman Begins, but opted out of the sequel ostensibly so she could act in the comedy Mad Money. So Nolan went in search of other actresses and ultimately decided on Maggie Gyllenhaal for the role. Gyllenhaal was the final choice, but she wasn’t the only one. Other actresses up for the role included Rachel McAdams and Emily Blunt.

7. GYLLENHAAL TOOK THE ROLE BASED ON NOLAN’S PRESENCE ALONE.

For many actors, the prospect of starring in a sequel to a hit film is a major draw. For others, the prospect of finally being a part of a Batman film would do the trick. For Gyllenhaal, who stepped in as Rachel Dawes, there was only one key reason to say yes: Christopher Nolan.

“When Chris approached me about the film, it was almost incidental that it was about Batman,” Gyllenhaal said. “I was lured into becoming intrigued by the character through the process of making the movie. From the very beginning, Chris was so interesting and engaging—and so interested in me and my ideas about Rachel—that I wanted to be a part of it.”

8. AARON ECKHART WASN’T THE ONLY STAR CONSIDERED FOR HARVEY DENT.

Though The Dark Knight is unquestionably a Batman movie, Nolan and company didn’t consider the Caped Crusader to be the film’s main character.

“Bruce Wayne was the protagonist of the first film,” Goyer said, “but we decided early on that he would not be the protagonist of the second film—that, in fact, Harvey Dent would be.”

To that end, finding the right actor to play Gotham’s district attorney was crucial. Nolan ultimately chose Aaron Eckhart, who reminded him of Robert Redford, to play the part, but Eckhart wasn’t the only star considered. Other potential Harvey Dents included Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, and Ryan Phillippe.

9. MICHAEL CAINE DIDN’T THINK THE FILM WOULD WORK ... UNTIL LEDGER WAS CAST.

Batman fans weren’t the only skeptics when it came to Nolan’s decision to deliver a new cinematic Joker. Michael Caine, who played Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred, was very apprehensive when  Nolan told him The Dark Knight’s villain would indeed be the Clown Prince of Crime, namely because Jack Nicholson’s performance as the character in 1989’s Batman still cast a very large shadow.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” Caine said.

When Nolan informed Caine that Ledger had been cast in the role, though, the film legend came around.

“I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ [laughs] My confidence came back. And then when I did this sequence with Heath, I knew we were in for some really good stuff.

10. THE JOKER’S SCARS WERE INSPIRED BY A REAL PERSON.

Nolan deliberately resisted the idea of giving The Joker an origin story in the film, opting instead to portray him as a force of pure anarchy with no discernible motivation other than chaos. For this reason, the character’s scarred face—as opposed to the chemically-induced frozen grin given to the character’s previous movie incarnation—had no clear source. In fact, the character deliberately tells different stories to different characters to explain where the scars came from. As a result, prosthetics supervisor Conor O’Sullivan was driven to take inspiration for the scars from real life. So, he used an actual man on the street as a reference.

“I immediately thought of the punk and skinhead era and some unsavory characters I had come across during this time,” O'Sullivan recalled. “The terminology for this type of wound is a ‘Glasgow’ or ‘Chelsea smile.’ My references had to be real. A delivery of fruit machines was made to the estate near my workshop and the man delivering them had a ‘Chelsea smile.' I plucked up the courage to ask him for a photo and he told me the story of how he had got his scars while being involved with “a dog fight”; needless to say I didn't pursue the matter, but the photos proved to be very useful reference.”

11. LEDGER LICKED HIS LIPS BECAUSE OF THE JOKER PROSTHETICS.

One of the most identifiable characteristics of Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker is the way he almost constantly licks his lips inside and out, probing his scars with his tongue over and over again. It adds energy to the character as well as a certain menacing quality, but it apparently was not planned. According to dialect coach Gerry Grennell, who worked with Ledger on the film, that tic arose because the scar prosthetics—which extended into Ledger’s mouth—would loosen as he performed. So, he licked his lips repeatedly in an effort to keep them in place.

"The last thing that Heath wanted to do was go back and spend another 20 minutes or half hour trying to get the lips glued back again, so he licked his lips. A lot,” Grennell recalled. “And then slowly, that became a part of the character.

12. THE MOVIE MADE IMAX HISTORY.

Though IMAX cameras are now on the verge of being used to shoot entire feature films, at the time The Dark Knight was made, the format was primarily used for documentary films to showcase things like the wondrous detail of nature. Nolan had longed for years to bring the format to features, and opted to use the ultra-heavy, ultra-expensive cameras to film several major sequences in The Dark Knight. Most famously, the film’s prologue—featuring The Joker’s bank robbery—was filmed on IMAX and released early, in its entirety, as a teaser.

13. THE JOKER FREAKED CAINE OUT SO MUCH, HE FORGOT HIS LINES.

For the scene in which Bruce Wayne is hosting a fundraiser for Harvey Dent in his elegant Gotham City townhouse, Ledger and a group of Joker goons were meant to burst into the party via the elevator. Caine, as Alfred, was supposed to be there waiting to greet guests as the elevator doors opened, only to be frightened by the appearance of The Joker. Caine was there waiting, the elevator doors opened, and he was apparently so frightened by what he saw that any lines he was meant to deliver during the scene completely left his mind.

"I was waiting for Batman's guests, but (the Joker) had taken over the elevator with—he has seven dwarfs and ... oh! wait until you see them,” he said while promoting the film. “So, I'd never seen any of it and the elevator door opened and they came out and I forgot every bloody line. They frightened the bloody life out of me.”

14. THE TRUCK FLIPPING SEQUENCE WAS DONE FOR REAL.

Embracing the hyperrealism of his version of Batman, Nolan opted to do many of The Dark Knight’s biggest stunts practically rather than relying on CGI. That includes arguably the biggest and most visually staggering stunt in the film: When Batman uses steel cables to flip The Joker’s 18-wheeler trailer over cab in the middle of a Gotham street. While another filmmaker might have opted to recreate the moment with computers or models, Nolan wanted to do it for real, on a real Chicago street. The task of pulling it off fell to special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, who ran tests in a more isolated area to ensure the flip wouldn’t harm any member of the crew or any neighboring buildings. With the tests successful, the production was primed to film the stunt … though Corbould still tried to talk Nolan into scaling it down.

“It was a funny thing—and this is always the way working with Chris—where he kept trying to talk me into a smaller vehicle,” Nolan said. “He said, ‘Can't it be one of those SWAT vans, not an articulated truck?!’ I kind of went along with that for a while and we storyboarded it that way and kept talking about it. And I finally just went to him and said, ‘Chris, you can do this, you're fine. It's gotta be a huge truck, it's gotta be a big 18-wheeler,’ and he went ‘Oh, all right,’ in that way he does, and he figured out a way to do it. Nobody had ever done it before and it was really a pretty amazing thing to watch."

15. CHRISTIAN BALE PERCHED ON SKYSCRAPERS HIMSELF AS BATMAN.

One of the most beautiful shots in the film finds Batman, cape billowing around him, perched atop Chicago’s Sears Tower as he surveys his city. It’s a gorgeous image, but also one that easily could have been carried out by a stuntman so Bale didn’t have to take the risk. The star was having none of that. When he found out his stuntman Buster Reeves was preparing to perform the perch, Bale rushed to convince Nolan that he should be the one to stand 110 stories above Chicago for the helicopter shot. 

“It was important for me to do that shot,” Bale explained, “because I wanted to be able to say I did it. 

Bale also opted to perform a similar stunt in which Batman stands on a ledge of the IFC2 building in Hong Kong. By then, he was quite comfortable with the height. 

16. BALE COULDN’T MANAGE THE BATPOD. 

One of the great visual hallmarks of Nolan’s Batman films is the introduction of the Batpod, The Dark Knight’s sleek motorcycle. While it may look like an oversized version of any other bike, the pod didn’t handle the same way, so a specially trained stunt driver was required. Jean-Pierre Goy was the man. He took to the vehicle immediately and trained for months to master the high-speed sequences required for the film. Bale, who was more than willing to volunteer to drive the Batpod, was ultimately only able to ride it when it was attached to camera rigs.

“Jean-Pierre was the only one who could master it,” Bale admitted. “Everybody else just fell off instantly.”

17. THE FILM INCLUDES A SMALL TRIBUTE TO LEDGER’S DAUGHTER.

For the scene in which The Joker sneaks into a panicked Gotham hospital to see Harvey Dent, Ledger dressed up in a nurse’s uniform. If you look closely, you’ll see that the nurse’s name tag reads “Matilda.” Matilda is Ledger’s daughter, who was born in 2005.

18. A SITTING U.S. SENATOR MADE A CAMEO.

When The Joker and his goons crash Bruce Wayne’s fundraising party, almost everyone in the room is intimidated into silence. One man, though, is not. He tells The Joker “we’re not intimidated by thugs,” and The Joker then grabs him and holds a knife to his mouth. That man is Patrick Leahy, the Democratic U.S. Senator from Vermont. A lifelong comic book fan, Leahy has appeared in five Batman films to date, including 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where he sat alongside actress Holly Hunter in a congressional hearing.

19. THE MAYOR OF A CITY CALLED “BATMAN” SUED THE PRODUCTION.

Weird lawsuits surrounding major motion pictures are nothing new, but The Dark Knight inspired a particularly strange one. In late 2008, after the film had opened to rapturous critical acclaim and enormous box office success, Huseyin Kalkan—the mayor of Batman, Turkey—sued Nolan and Warner Brothers for what he deemed a negative impact the film had caused on his city.

"There is only one Batman in the world. The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

Needless to say, given that Batman is still as popular as ever, the suit didn’t go anywhere.

Additional Source:
The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy, by Jody Duncan Jesser and Janine Pourroy

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios