Is the guessing game finally over? Is Talia Al Ghul a major cog in The Dark Knight Rises, perhaps even the main villain? Is director Chris Nolan purposefully connecting his first movie Batman Begins, with this, his final one? The Hollywood Reporter have heard from 'inside sources' that Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul, is one of the two suggested female parts in the new film. Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway (two we've heard before) and new names... Jessica Biel, Gemma Arterton, Kate Mara and Charlotte Riley (interestingly, she is engaged to Tom Hardy... who was the first new actor cast) are all due to screen test at Warner Bros. in the next two weeks. Talia Al Ghul has been a firm fan favourite amongst OWF readers for The Dark Knight Rises, topping a recent poll we ran, and is constantly spoken of in the talkback suggestions. I'm guessing it's because we've already seen Catwoman played iconically by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns and Talia, a big name in the comics, has never had a roll of the dice on film and I suppose we all like the idea of The League of Shadows returning in some form. And perhaps even Ra's himself? In comics lore Talia is a woman of immense beauty, a frequent lover of Batman (perhaps the only character who truly tamed his heart?) and at the same time is a dangerous, powerful, crime lord. Let's look at the names of the actresses' reportedly auditioning one by one;
Keira Knightley (25)Keira Knightley's name was first mentioned for The Dark Knight Rises last October and is probably the biggest star on the list having appeared in the Pirates of the Carribean franchise. I understand the public image of Knightley and her prior choice of movies roles probably means her casting would be met with some disdain but I think she's grown a great deal since her POTC days and she put in a wonderful performance in Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go this year. She's a very, very talented actress with the kind of uniquely beautiful facial features I think Talia needs to have... but then again, could we ever believe her and her sleight frame as a powerful, mass crime lord? Wouldn't mind her as a love interest though chemistry with Christian Bale could be problematic. She has a completely free schedule for the rest of the year having recently shot Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.
Anne Hathaway (28)Like Knightley, her name has been attached to WB's shortlist since October. An actress with that Julia Roberts-esque big smile and charisma, Hathaway is believable in the right role (Rachel Getting Married, Love & Other Drugs) but I don't think Talia is one of them. I'm not so sure I could easily buy her as a villain. As far as I can tell she has a few deals in the making but nothing that she couldn't easily drop to spend her summer with Bats.
Jessica Biel (28)If we all closed our eyes, I think we'd know exactly what kind of performance Jessica Biel would give in The Dark Knight Rises as a villain, and it's worrying. She's done The A-Team, she's done Next... we've seen her do the summer blockbuster gig and she's not a good fit for it. A beautiful model, yes. But Nolan will require her to do more than pose. Biel is currently filming the romantic comedy New Year's Eve (the follow-up to Valentine's Day) but has nothing pending she couldn't drop for this.
Gemma Arterton (25)The Kent born actress has already enjoyed a high-profile career, despite only being in the business for a few years. She was a 'princess in distress' twice last year in Price of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans, prior to that she was a Bond girl and she's also led the actor vehicles The Disappearance of Alice Creed and Tamara Drewe. I think many of us are still wondering whether she can actually act after watching those performances above but she's definitely a fearless actress with a likeability about her, which should lend her well to winning more roles in the future. I don't think a part in the Batman franchise though is one that suits her and her recent casting in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will likely overlap this production.
Kate Mara (27)Somewhat seen as the less talented sister compared to Rooney Mara (who is the American - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Kate Mara has failed to break free her T.V. career shackles and become a film actress of note, or one of regular work. I can't see her as Talia or as a love interest strong enough for this film. Mara is currently filming high school graduation comedy Ten Year and would be finished in time for this.
Charlotte Riley (28)Like myself, Charlotte Riley is a North East of England native having attend schools in Teeside and Durham and despite being older than the names on this list, she is probably the least experienced. Her notable roles are two British t.v. productions The Take & Wuthering Heights, both of which she starred alongside Tom Hardy... who she became engaged with last year. Has Hardy got Riley an audition, I wonder? Can't say I know a lot about her. She has a free schedule for this. Hmmm, when you go through them one by one... the whole list sounds underwhelming to me. And if Talia is indeed one of the roles these gals are circling, I would struggle to imagine any of them playing the part - unlike the last actress shortlist which included Rachel Weisz, Marion Cotillard and Natalie Portman... all of whom I could see as a good fit for Talia. Interestingly, The Dark Knight Rises update doesn't end there. Just minutes before THR went live with this piece, Collider reported from their sources that Eva Green and Naomi Watts had been cast in the new film, two names that are a lot more comforting but the report was soon denied by the trades. Collider hinted that Green was up for Talia (Finally - a strong actress, with that exotic, foreign look, the curves, the dark side & the believability to run an Empire!!) and Watts for Vicki Vale. That's more like the names we were hoping, right? Collider also says principal photography will begin May 6th, post-production on November 28th... and obviously the release date is still July 2012. They also say;
A different source tells us some new details regarding the design of the new Batmobile and Batcave. Its not surprising that both will be in the new movie since the old Batmobile was destroyed in The Dark Knight and Bruce and Alfred have been working on the Batcave since the end of Batman Begins. Our source Raphael tells us that the new Batmobile (aka The Tumbler) has been redesigned as a sleeker version, but still powerful and with all the gadgets. As for the Batcave, it will be the same cave we saw in Batman Begins and theyre attempting to keep the classic stuff like the circular bay for the Batmobile, but keep the look modern. Theyre also setting up the Batcomputer and storage for the Batsuits. And if theres a new Batmobile and a new Batcave, is it possible well be getting a new Batsuit in The Dark Knight Rises? (Hint, hint.)Which if true isn't exactly Earth-shattering news. Didn't we all expect a Batcave and a new car in this one anyway?