Christopher Nolan Basically Tricked The ‘Batman Begins’ Producers Into Casting Cillian Murphy As Scarecrow

cillian murphy as scarecrow in batman begins

Warner Bros.

Before he ultimately put forth arguably the greatest comic book movie trilogy of all time, Christopher Nolan’s resurrection of Batman on the big screen was far from a sure thing.

Following the late 90s disaster that was Batman & Robin, the studio, Warner Bros. mothballed the character for over half a decade before relaunching the cinematic property with Nolan at the helm and Christian Bale in the starring role of the Caped Crusader.

Bale wasn’t always Nolan’s first choice, however, as the acclaimed director actually screen-tested Cillian Murphy for the part prior to landing on Bale.

Still impressed with Murphy’s talents and desperate to get him into the film, Nolan used his audition as Batman to get him the part of Scarecrow.

“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,” Nolan told Entertainment Weekly in a recent profile interview.

“We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you were doing on set. 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.”

Nolan then notes that prior to Murphy’s chilling turn as Scarecrow, Batman films on the big screen had largely been portrayed by A-list actors — even Batman Begins featured Oscar and Tony Award-nominated Liam Neeson in the ultimately villainous role of Ra’s al Ghul.

“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,” Nolan revealed.

While Murphy ultimately didn’t land the lead role in Batman Begins, his career would turn out just fine thanks to roles in projects such as in films such as Red Eye, Sunshine, Inception, Dunkirk, and Peaky Blinders.

This summer, of course, Murphy will be reteaming with Nolan — this time as the star of the film — in Oppenheimer, which also features the likes of Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, and Florence Pugh and will hit theaters on Friday, July 21.