Q: First of all, congratulations. Great job.
SMC: Did you like the movie?
SMC: Oh, that's great. It makes our job easier.
Q: You were phenomenal.
SMC: (Quietly.) Thank you.
Q: Were you a fan of the Batman franchise prior to being involved with this project?
SMC: Well, they were all sort of different. They sort of came out at different times. So there was nothing to be a fan of. But I saw them all and liked most of them, I must say. Yeah. Yeah. But when I got this script, it was called Batman Begins, and I wondered about that. And then when I read the script, I realized it was true—Batman begins. It's a whole new thing in a whole new way—the way Christopher has done it. So it made me do it. There wouldn't be much point in just playing an ordinary butler in another Batman: you know, comin' in saying "Dinner is served" or something. You know.
SMC: But the way it was written, and the way it was treated, and my respect for Christopher Nolan as a director, having seen the other two pictures he'd made. I was also intrigued that a man who directed Insomnia and Memento would be directing a big budget movie like this. And they trusted him with it—you know, $180 million dollars. But I figured he could do it, and it was so different. And I loved it. I've seen the picture now and I really love it.
G:Alfred is a historical character in the comics, and Rachel is unique to the film. How did each of you go about formulating your approach to the characters?
SMC: (To Katie.) You want to start that one?
SMC: I started this one.
KH: Okay, yeah, I know—I'll give you—okay. (Giggles.) Well, you know, it was a thrill to get the role of Rachel, and what I liked about her was her strength and her—you know, she's the type of person that you can tell she's worked hard for everything she's ever gotten. And she's very tough, and she wants to save Gotham City and make a difference and so I just—there was so much back-story already there: she grew up with Bruce—she grew up in that house—her mom was a servant. So it was sort of pretty much all there on the page. And so it was fun to think about different experiences that Rachel and Bruce had together growing up and, you know, how that came into play as they got older and, you know, added into their closeness.
SMC: Me? My one, I did a back-story on mine. I wanted to be the toughest butler you've ever seen—not the normal English suave butler. And so I made him an SAS sergeant, which is a very, very tough British army unit [ed.: the British Special Air Service]. And I made—he's wounded. He didn't want to leave the army, became the sergeant in charge of the sergeant's canteen—or the sergeant's mess, as its called in the British army. And he got found by Bruce Wayne's father, who wanted the toughest butler he could find, and that's what he got. And I used the voice of my original sergeant when I joined the British army. That's his voice. Yes. That's the back-story, and I'm waiting for Christopher Nolan to do Alfred: The Beginning.
Q: Are both of you signed for further installments?
SMC: Only mentally, isn't it?
KH: (Laughs.) Yes, exactly.
SMC: Only mentally. We'd both do it in a minute.
SMC: But we're not signed.
Q: How was the experience on set in filming the movie?
Q: Tell us your experience filming the movie.
SMC: It was great fun. It was a good movie to work on. And it was quiet. It's none of this shout and a balling—he's a very quiet man, Christopher. Even when he directs you. You'd go, "I'm a bit deaf." I kept saying, "What'd he say?"
KH: I did the s—I know.
SMC: Yeah. He's so quiet. You think, "I'm going deaf." But I'm not. He's just quiet. It was a quiet film to make. What you get from Christopher is he's very quiet, but you'd better do exactly what you're supposed to do. Otherwise, his voice might get louder. So you do it and you say, "I hope he doesn't notice anything." And that's it. He's wonderful. He's a wonderful director.
KH: Yeah. He's a wonderful leader on set.
Q: Christian said that when he put on the costume for the first time, he looked at himself, and it was like looking at an animal. When you guys saw him in costume for the very first time, what was your guys's reaction?
SMC: (To Katie:) He looked like an animal, didn't he?
SMC: He looked like a bat. Made out of stuff. And we made him. No, Alfred and Batman made the uniform. But I—obviously we didn't make the uniform, but—. The first time I saw it, I opened a cupboard on the set, and it was in there, and it made me jump. (Laughs.) Because it was just sittin' there. And I think it's the most sinister Batman outfit I've ever seen. Yeah. It's very sinister. Very sinister. Very hard, and it's not shiny. You know, Batman was always shiny, and the Batmobile was shiny. But this looks like—
KH: It's real.
SMC: The Batmobile, for instance, looks like you'd be safer on the outside than driving it, you know. You could die driving this bloody thing. Better to run away from it.
G: For both of you, what does your character fear in the movie, and what do you fear?
KH: (Pause.) Hmmn. I don't think Rachel fears anything in this movie. And I don't fear anything. (Laughs.) So it works out.
SMC: My main fear in the movie is that Batman will lose his moral convictions and get carried away with the power he has. In real life, I'm afraid of heights. And people who have moral convictions—.
SMC: (Laughs.) And might get carried away, such as Adolf Hitler and others.
Q: With so much going on in your life, how do you stay grounded and keep things balanced?
KH: Ummm. I'm happy. I'm happy.
Q: What makes you happy?
KH: Um, you know, I'm so excited about Batman coming out this summer. I just saw the movie last week, and I'm thrilled with it and excited to be promoting it and happy for the world to see it. And I'm really happy about my personal life and—.
Q: In love?
KH: Totally in love, and there's, you know—I'm a very lucky woman.
Q: What did Tom [Cruise] think about Batman? Did he see it already?
KH: He loved it. He loved the movie.
Q: And we saw him today. Is he here to just come out and support you?
KH: Yeah. Yeah.
SMC: They were kissing in the corridor.
KH: (Laughs.) Yes, we were! (Laughs.)
Q: (To Michael:) Did you catch them? Did you say anything to them?
SMC: No. I've known Tom a long time.
SMC: I know him very well.
G: Sir Michael, you literally wrote the book on acting. Is there anything left for you to learn on a movie set?
SMC: Oh, I learn the whole time. Yeah, yeah. I think it would be dull if I thought I was going to work and I wouldn't find something new. You know, you always learn. I learned—what'd I learn on this movie? Stay out of the way of the bats. Keep your head down.
KH: Keep your head down. (Chuckles.)—
Q: Katie, you had said, in preview articles on Batman a long time ago, that you were somewhat intimidated with all these actors that you were working with on Batman Begins. And this is some of your best work in a long, long time. Do you know where you want to go from here, like what sort of parts you're looking to take? Is your confidence higher, having done this film?
KH: I'm really proud of this film, and I had such a great time working with these amazing actors. And I'm excited to find—I like being part of good movies and telling stories that mean something to me. And, with that in mind, I also like playing characters that I look up to.
Q: The cast is almost entirely British. Do you have any sense why he cast an American as the love interest?
KH: You'll have to ask him. But I'm glad.
SMC: The market.
KH: [To Michael:] It's me, Michael. It's me!
SMC: No, no, I didn't mean it like that!
Q: Do you remember when was the first movie that you saw of Michael and how do you work to lose the intimidation factor when you work with icons?
SMC: Alfie, yeah. And I've come up in the world, 'cause I'm now called Al-fred.
KH: Right. And Alfie was my first movie. And Michael—he made me laugh. (Giggles.)
SMC: We had a lot of laughs on the movie. You have to.
Q: And about Alfie, Michael, how did you feel when your Alfie was a bigger hit than the second Alfie?
SMC: Well, it was rather sad, really. Because Jude Law is a friend of mine. And I would hope it'd be a hit for him. Because I want everybody to be a success. I especially want him to be a success, 'cause I want to do a remake of Sleuth with him. You see? And if he'd have been a big hit, we'd have got the money easier. You know? And we got a rewrite by Harold Pinter. And so, it's a very interesting—anyway, it doesn't matter. But Jude is a wonderful actor, anyway. But my view is that you should always remake failures. Because then you've got nowhere to go but up. You know, they can't say, "Well, its not as good as that." You make a piece of crap, they say, "Well, it's a piece of crap like that was."
Q: If you both were to return for sequels, have you given any thought to how you'd like to see your characters developed in future installments?
SMC: I'd like to do a bigger character.
KH: Yes. (Laughs.) More screen time.
Q: Can you talk about working with Christian in this movie?
SMC: Christian? Oh, he's great to work with—completely dedicated. Physically, if you saw what he did with himself, I mean—he's so big. I'd seen him in American Psycho, and when they said Christian, I thought, he's kind of thin, you know? Not the Batman.
KH: And then he got thinner for The Machinist.
SMC: Well, I didn't know about that. Otherwise I'd have freaked out, if I had seen that: The Machinist. But then when I walked on the set, there was Arnold Schwarzenegger standing there. So I went, "Oops." Yeah.
Q: Katie, is there another comic-book character that—you know, franchise—that you would like to see yourself involved with, on, like, Wonder Woman, or something like that?
KH: You know, I really like—I loved working on this movie Batman Begins. I liked this story, and I'd love to do another Batman movie.
Q: Katie, Cillian was really kind of creepy in the movie. How was it acting opposite him? Did that come out, or what was the atmosphere with him?
KH: He was creepy in the movie, wasn't he?
SMC: Yeah, he was incredible, wasn't he?
KH: He was great.
SMC: I'd never come across him before. I never even met him in the movie; I had no scenes with him. I met him the other day in London when we were doing this!
Q: (To Katie:) He looked kind of short next to you.
KH: (Pause.) Oh.
SMC: It's not your fault.
KH: I didn't do it! I didn't do it!
Q: It seems like he had hardly any eye contact with you in your scenes together. Was that difficult? He was always looking elsewhere when you were addressing him.
KH: Um. Well, that's because he was (whispers) playing a criminal. That's why.
Q: That didn't make the acting any more.—
Q: That didn't make the acting any more complicated? You didn't look for a response? (Crestfallen.) Never mind.
KH: It was wonderful working with Cillian. He's a great actor. It was—you know, it was—.
SMC: Is he. I didn't work with him, you see?
KH: He was great.
SMC: I never ever met him on the movie.
KH: Yeah. Yeah, we had a nice time. Yeah.
SMC: Boy, it was creepy in the movie—.
KH: He was creepy.
SMC: With that mask with the maggots falling.
KH: I didn't like that mask. I mean, I liked it, but I—it was creepy.
G: For both of you, what was your most surreal moment on the set?
SMC: For me, it's when I walked into the Batcave for the first time, which was a set at Shepperton Studios on this big soundstage, which, coincidentally, was the first place where I ever played a scene anywhere in any movie. It was the same place.
SMC: But it was so weird. Yeah, I made a tiny little film called A Hill in Korea, a British army picture when I was very young. And I had eight lines in the picture. And I screwed up six of them. And it was on this stage that I said the very first line in a movie. And then there was this great big Bat-place. And then, I said, "Those are great false bats in the ceiling." He said, "They're not false, Michael. They're real. They're asleep." I said, "Well, don't wake 'em up, whatever you do." And then the waterfall started and everything—and it's a massive set. It's really massive.
G: And Katie?
KH: I think the first time I walked into the Gotham City, because that was, you know, in this huge hangar and it was—
SMC: Oh, that's incredible, too, isn't it? Yeah, that was an airship hangar. Remember the old airships? That was big—that would take two airships. And that massive Gotham set was about an eighth of that building, wasn't it?
SMC: There was masses of it left over. It's an incredible place.
KH: It was so much fun. I felt like I was—
SMC: Yeah, I've got news for you about the sequel.
KH: (Quietly) What?
SMC: I never told anyone this. They haven't pulled that set down.
KH: (Whispers.) I know.
SMC: (Whispers.) Yeah, did you know?
KH: (Whispers.) Yeah.
SMC: There might be a sequel.
KH: We should just go hang there.
SMC: Yeah-hah! The set is still there. And it's really Chicago because it was very funny: I had just done a picture in Chicago called The Weather Man with Nicolas Cage, which is not out yet. And then—.
KH: When does that come out?
SMC: And then I went back, straight back to Chicago to shoot, and I was in exactly the same place, but it was Gotham City. It was quite weird. Quite strange.
[For Groucho's review of Batman Begins, click here.]