As the sun rises in the east, as fall inexorably turns to winter, so we know with utmost certainty that whoever stars as the villain in a new Batman film will be asked if the role destroyed their mind. Paul Dano is the latest antihero to play along with this old media trope, telling EW that pretending to be The Riddler in Matt Reeves’ The Batman was so “intense,” it cost him many sleepless nights, even compelling him to wrap himself in plastic and endanger his health.
You can tell Dano is trying to oblige his interviewer because his first quote on the subject is clearly a response to a leading question. “There’s a sequence with Peter Sarsgaard’s character [Gotham district attorney Gil Colson]. That was intense,” he said.
Warming up to the subject, he added, “There were some nights around that I probably didn’t sleep as well as I would’ve wanted to just because it was a little hard to come down from this character. It takes a lot of energy to get there. And so you almost have to sustain it once you’re there because going up and down is kind of hard.”
As Dano was overtaken by the madness of a character who — oh horror! — enjoys puzzles, he found himself thinking like the nefarious villain. This included wanting to avoid leaving fingerprints at the film’s crime scenes. Dano pitched to Reeves that he would like to wear plastic wrap while filming some scenes.
This decision proved to be short-sighted. “My head was just throbbing with heat,” Dano said of his Saran suit. “I went home that night, after the first full day in that, and I almost couldn’t sleep because I was scared of what was happening to my head. It was like compressed from the sweat and the heat and the lack of oxygen. It was a crazy feeling.”
Reeves concurred, recalling, “He took off the mask. He was beet red.” Luckily, a short conversation with the costume department allowed Dano to safely cosplay as a plastic mummy. Reeves added, “Paul is really a chameleon. He’s brilliant in so much. But I think you see him going through a very internal tortured experience in his characters. You can see him really in an active way, having this kind of psychological turmoil that I find is really compelling.”
The Batman swings into theaters March 4th as the longest Batman film ever. Last week, Bruce Wayne himself Robert Pattinson said that filmmakers forced him to change his first, “absolutely atrocious” Batman voice.