From the Set: The Crew of The Dark Knight Rises


Christopher Nolan’s love for all things Bond may shine through in his hiring of Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming to design the costumes for all three of his Batman movies, following a stunt doing costumes on all four Pierce Brosnan Bond movies as well as Casino Royale. She won an award from the Costume Designers Guild in 2009 for her costumes on The Dark Knight.

The designs for the Batman and Catwoman suits

“The Batman suit is the same apart from any adaptations from what the action is in this film. It’s the same suit. There’s no new technology to the actual suit, so that’s the answer to that, and about the Catsuit. It’s very, very simple, and as though she’s the kind of the opposite, the female version of Batman in a way, someone who produced a suit that has a technology of its own, which is in the fabric and has her own functional items for what she does. I don’t know how much you know about what she does in the story. She’s a cat burglar, so she has a custom-made belt with everything to do with burglary, looking at jewelry, she has a belt that’s full of those things, all miniaturized. The tech in the fabric is our own creative tech. It’s not a special fabric. We made it ourselves by screenprinting the underlayer and putting a very thin silky overlayer on, because wanted to keep her very, very lithe, very, very creeping about, not robotic or anything like that, and we didn’t want it to be rubbery, shiny like the previous Michelle Pfeiffer suit, we didn’t want it to have any implication of it being a bondage or a sex kind of suit. It was to be something functional that you wear when you’re trying to creep about in the dark and not be visible basically.

Translating characters like Bane from comics to screen

“When you look at the comic version of Bane, he’s this massive man and he’s wearing this wrestling suit and it’s a bit difficult to imagine how you can translate that into a Chris Nolan film, because everyone’s meant to have a real background and come from some real story reasons So with Bane, maybe it’s whether people like it or not, you can see him with his mercenary men and you can know in the story where he’s come from and why he is like he is. Following that route, he’s armored and he has nods to the straps of the wrestling suit he started with and he’s got an injury, which is why in the comic, he has to have Venom. In our story, it’s slightly different but it’s the same kind of idea. So using all those things and using the fact that he doesn’t come from the same technology as Batman–he doesn’t have Fox making all these things for him–his stuff has been made on the move over the mountains of the world, maybe in training camps. He’s the guy who has had his stuff made by different people along the way. So there is a slightly clunky element to him and that’s part of his story. At the same time, the way he’s directed in the film, the menace is within him, it isn’t because he’s a wrestler, and he’s also an older character. He’s not a young kid. He’s an older man who as you see the film, you’ll know that he’s been around for a long time, but the reason he looks like he looks is he’s much more of a warrior/mercenary kind of man.”

Redesigning Bane’s mask:

“I wanted it to be like an animal. I wanted it to have an animalistic feeling, and I looked at things like Silverback Gorillas and snarling teeth and fangs coming up and fangs coming down. You’re getting absolutely what it is, and I think it’s hard to see from the baylights unlit and unphotographed because when you see how it looks on film, I think often you’ll often get that ‘arrrgh’ feeling. Also, I think we all decided early on that if you have a film where there are two people that are wearing a mask, and we have always with Chris a thing with masks and disguises and what have you, but when they’re fighting together, we didn’t want Batman and him to look the same. Bane’s mask in the comics is a sort of black wrestling mask thing – you can’t see any of his face. So my first thing was animals and my second thing, with Chris–and it was his idea really more—was how on earth can we make this man not look the same as the other man when they’re fighting? So just between working and drawing and looking at reference pictures of animals and everything, we came up with the idea that the whole side’s out, so the mask is functioning, the painkiller if you like, is being fed down into here and that it could even be that his face is damaged, we don’t know. I think we didn’t mind that the fact that it would limit his vocal abilities because it’s a film and we can put that in or do whatever we want with that afterwards, but it seemed to somehow make him more menacing, anyway not to be able to speak and this bit to be hidden. His mask is coming from the back here where there are two canisters of whatever it is, the anesthetic, then the pieces come forward from the back, they travel along here and then they enter his facebox, if you like. It’s a horrible thing to be an actor and to have your face covered all the time, but he’s willing to do it. I think when you’re designing them, you have to design the thing and then afterwards, you have to think, ‘Right, okay, how will he be able to have a cup of tea? Will he only be able to have a straw or will you make this part (which we have) completely magnetically removable?’ When we take him out the back, we don’t have to spend hours and hours taking it off and putting it back on again, because it’s sectional so it can come off. The parameters of why he’s like that are the same from when you know him, obviously not when he was a baby, but he was injured early in his story. It’s still the same principal, that he’s suffering from pain and he needs gas to survive. He can’t survive the pain without the mask, which is exactly the same as the comic book Bane.”

Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman costume and the functionality of the ears and heels:

“We like the silhouette of the ’60s Catwoman (Julie Newmar) a lot, and it seemed to suit Anne to go that way, and I was kind of keen to go with Tia Mowry, the designer and have much more of that shape in her costumes generally, which you haven’t seen any others of. You’ll see when you see the whole scan of the thing that she’s got a look that goes through her dayclothes and into her catsuit, and its all quite minimalist. Between Chris Nolan and I, we were trying to work out how would a woman who is sort of modern and trendy and cool, why would she go around wearing ears? There’s two nods to it in the film, one is that she is wearing ears, which you’ll see and is explained, but we said, “What is forming these ears? What’s the logic behind the ears?” And the logic you will see behind the ears is that when the goggles go up, the shape of the goggles make the ears, and we think it’s really cool. We’re very, very pleased with it. But we went through so many incarnations of how to make it happen. I don’t know if I you’ve seen jewelers when they have jewelers’ loop or when you go to the dentist – that was my inspiration. When you’re at the dentist and they’re looking at you and they’ve got the thing that looks into your mouth and they’ve got magnification and everything, well just both of us looking at different versions of that and then we bought loads of sunglasses and we made them do things with cardboard and what we have you and we worked out what our principal was and then we got a product designer to come and work with us, so we then started making our version of a night vision goggle or magnification goggle that she uses when she’s doing her cat burgling and made it so that when it goes up, it forms the ears. I like telling you that because it’s so long ago that we did it now. Her heels are weapons and I mean, there are fashion shoes like that, but they’re like knives, so she uses them. That’s one of her things that she secretly… Yeah, so we have to have rubber heels and we have to have metal heels, obviously, otherwise we’d kill.”

Marion Cotillard’s outfits

“You’ve only seen the end of the story for Marion. Marion’s story is a much more realistic person, a normal person, and in fact, you’ve seen her looking a bit Cosack-y but you’ll find out why in the end. (chuckles) There’s a whole movement of people in this film and I can’t really say why because she (points to the publicist) is watching me carefully now… who have another mountain of the world kind of feeling, a roof of the world kind of feeling to them, and so she’s not a Cosack in fact, but there is that sort of look to her.”

Christopher Nolan’s involvement in costume design

“(He’s) absolutely involved in all elements of the film. We start work long before we start making the costumes. Nathan Crowley and I, we have to go work with him in his house really, drawing, talking, reference, looking at photographs, looking at books, and talking about the script and usually there isn’t really the whole script. There’s the story then, not the script, and going into each piece and working out what we will do. So ‘a lot’ is the answer.”

The Dark Knight Rises opens nationwide and across the globe on Friday, July 20.

And if you guessed that director Christopher Nolan was the fifth guy from the right in the long sleeve light blue shirt, grey pants with the odd-looking hat… then you were right!

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