As someone who has worked with Christopher Nolan on films such as Inception, The Dark Knight and The Prestige, co-producer Jordan Goldberg has seen firsthand the way Nolan likes to operate. So during a group interview last summer on the set of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh, we asked him what Nolan is like to work with and a lot more. Here’s a few of the highlights:
- Batman fighting in the daylight is a significant plot point.
- The script is just about finalized by the time they are shooting and not much changes on set.
- They got to use the Heinz Field because one of the producers, Thomas Tull, is a part owner of the team. Most of the Rogues football players were played by Steelers team members.
- They actually exploded parts of the Steelers’ field.
- Mark Ellis, who has worked on many sports movies, coordinated a lot of the football sequences.
- During the football scenes, there were only 500 paid extras who were with the production, but over 10,000 people from the Pittsburgh area showed up to be extras in the stands.
Hit the jump for more:
As usual, I’m offering two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio or the full transcript is below. The Dark Knight Rises opens July 20.
We’ve seen a lot of it. We saw the tumblers.
Goldberg: Oh, the tumblers were just cool… huh?
We understand that…
Goldberg: That was a surprise, I think. I was surprised to see him.
Well, we understand you were pretty pivotal in getting the whole thing at Heinz Field. Can you tell us about this?
Goldberg: Yeah. Well, yes definitely. We had the fortune of one of our Executive Producers, Thomas Tull — is a part owner of the Steelers. He’s got a lot of, yeah; he’s got a lot of good relationships with the organization. And back when – you know, when any time I guess when your put on a football thing, it’s a big to-do just because of all the moving parts involved in a football game. And so, I felt that, you know, to do it officially you’d need some very good working parts. And at that time we were thinking, we were talking about shooting in Pittsburgh, so it just seemed like the best marriage to kind of bring in the Steelers and as luck would have it a lot of them wanted to be in the movie, but they’ve never been in a movie before. They were big fans of Thomas’ other movies like the Hangover and stuff. So, I think the opportunity to be in a Batman movie, they really got involved. So, we got the – they were in camp, so we only had a chance to get some of the small – a small crop of the guys. Most of the veterans were unable to talk the coach out of missing a day of camp to come and shoot with us.
Was that really what brought you guys to Pittsburgh, was it having the access to the field or were you – I mean you were at football game and that’s how it panned out to be in Pittsburgh? Or was the football game a result of Thomas Tull owning the team saying, “Hey, can we put…?”
Goldberg: No, the football game was always in there. Definitely. Definitely warranted – I mean, football kind of, it’s very American, it’s a very big city kind of thing. If you live in a big city, you definitely have a football team. That kind of settles that in that reality. At one point we were talking about shooting in different places; Pittsburgh was always a place and this is a huge sports town. I mean, they love their sports. So this is actually very fortunistic that we are able to do this scene here because these people are still out there and they just want to be out there because, you know, they’ve got Heinz Ward out there, Bill Cowher’s is out there raffling prizes off of it. So it’s a huge deal. So it was cool. It worked out definitely.
Goldberg: I’m thinking that most of them are in the general area. I would say most of them are locals.
Are you from there?
Goldberg: Me? No. I grew up in the East Coast, but I’m not from here.
I heard there’s like 500 like paid extras, like put in around it. I mean how do you go about ordering…?
Goldberg: Yeah, we have a section – we have – and I forgot the number. We have a section of paid extras that we kind of…
Goldberg: Is it 500? We gave them the garb so that you know, because we’re shooting a lot with the kick return going up the field there. So you’ll probably get a very good angle of them to make them look like they’re all wearing Rogues material, but surprisingly as you go look at the 10,000 people they all showed up with their own Rogues stuff. So, a very enthusiastic crew out there.
How much of the scope of this movie is compared to the first two, the scope, how much bigger?
Goldberg: Yeah, I mean, I guess that anytime that you’re handling that, you know, every story has to have a great ending. And I guess when you talk about it as a franchise, a trilogy, it keeps getting bigger and bigger. So yeah, you had to ratchet it up. I think that the scope and scale of this movie is, I don’t know. I didn’t think you could top the last one, but I think we have. And I think something like this helps you do that because it’s just a massive – any time there’s a football game, there’s a lot of kinetic energy out there and the stunt that we’re going to pull out there, you’ll see after lunch, the explosions we’re gonna do are pretty big. And it’s just, you know, the stakes are very high. And I think when you see the movie, when you see the final thing put together, it’s a pretty jaw-dropping spectacle, what happens in there.
How much is the football – how big is this into the movie? Like is this like a two-minute scene? Is it a 10-minute scene?
Goldberg: Yeah I mean, it’s cutting back and forth to a lot of different events that are going on, so it’s hard to tell what the run time is. It’s pretty significant. It’s a kind of a pivotal moment in the story.
Is it about halfway through the movie, like can you say whereabouts in the movie the scene falls?
Goldberg: I wouldn’t – I couldn’t tell you that right now because I don’t really know how it’s gonna play and really in the final cut of that. But yeah, sort of near that general area.
Goldberg: I think they were like, they thought that it was cool. They didn’t really understand it until they got out there today and they saw the – they saw the huge platform. So I thought they got a big kick out of – particularly the coaches because they were like, I think a couple of the guys that actually work here are like, you know, I said, “ We just destroyed your field.” They were laughing and they walked out there and it’s all, you know, half of it blown to pieces. So I think they got a big kick out of that, yeah.
How is Chris’ team approached shooting football. I mean, how have they acclimated to that because it’s obviously a very different sensibility. I don’t imagine Chris Nolan watches football all the time.
Goldberg: No, he doesn’t. We have a guy down there named Mark Ellis, who’s worked on a lot of sports films. Most of the sports films you’ve seen, he’s been the coordinator behind it all. Mark and I had been talking for a while and Chris had an idea how – what he wanted in the game and Chris dialed into the fact that this event should take place at the beginning of the game and the kickoff ‘cause you know, the kickoff is very iconic of any football game. So with that information, I was able to get it – we were able to design a very kind of easy play out there to kind of make the thing happen.
Goldberg: Yeah, exactly. The event.
I think one of the best moments of The Dark Knight was like the explosion during the day at the hospital. And I’m thinking that…
Do you find it more difficult to do explosions during the day because you have to pick up the light that the explosions show off as opposed to nighttime where the flames will just show up?
Goldberg: I don’t think so. I don’t think we really have issues of that. I mean, I think that, for them it’s like, with the hospital in particular, I think blowing up during the day just shows you the magnitude of that. I mean that was a real building that they blew up. So I think if you shot that at night, you wouldn’t have gotten the total, you know, perspective of what that was. I think maybe the same is true right now. Sometimes games are played at night, obviously, but I think that during the day it’s just like you’re watching it – I guess when you’re there in the daylight, you can’t imagine something like that that’s gonna happen, happens. And when it does in a movie, it takes you by surprise.
Can you talk about the decision…?
Goldberg: Did you see that on YouTube?
No. Yeah, I mean, some of those photos that are out there, I mean, we had all assumed, oh, they’ll make it look like nighttime in post, but from what we’re hearing, Batman is going to be out in the daytime. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to actually take this character and put him in the daytime? Because that’s pretty significant for Nolan.
Goldberg: Yeah, it’s changed. I won’t say much because I don’t want to ruin any kind of story things for you guys, but you have to think about it because obviously the guy is built to fight at night. So the question is why. What is involved contextually of the story that would force him to take to the streets during the day? You know what I mean? And I think that alone should say, you know, that shows you when we talk about the scope and scale, it’s just like, the stakes have been increased because of, you know, he’s not in his comfort level in terms of him doing his fighting crime bit.
The Dark Knight was a much bigger success that anyone ever could imagine — third biggest movie domestically. I mean, did you guys go into this automatically having a bigger budget? Did you guys assume that or kind of try to stay in the same limitations of the last movie and just do more?
Goldberg: I guess, you know, honestly, Chris and Emma and the rest of the team, they always start from the place where they just want to make a really good movie. They don’t really think about what it was. I mean, we’re lucky ‘cause you get to rest on that — the big success, that helps. You know, I mean, obviously, you go into a town like this and everyone is so enthusiastic to have you around and a lot of that has to do with the last movie’s success and they’re huge fans and stuff. But ultimately the mission is to come into it and make a great film, a good story, great spectacle and I just think that’s the way he approaches it, which is why I think ultimately that people like it, so.
Goldberg: Yeah, he and, you know, Jonah and him have — you know, the process is – their writing process is pretty finalized by the time we start rolling the cameras. I mean, things change a bit, you know. I mean, he — different ideas come into play, but for the most part it’s pretty locked in. The story is a pretty good detailed blueprint for us to go through and I think it enables us to move very efficiently that way. And all the actors, I think, are very kind of relaxed in the scenario because they know what they’re doing; nothing really changes. They can lock in on their characters; they can bring something new to it. That’s the process that they do.
After Batman Begins an obvious way to go is to up the stakes and bring in the Joker. After The Dark Knight, how did you approach the choice of villain, for example, or the choice of characters et cetera? How do you take it up from there?
Goldberg: You know that’s a very good question. I think that, you know, I can’t really speak for Chris. All I can say is, it’s a tough act to follow, obviously. He’s an iconic villain, so we were doing some iconic characters from the lore in this film. And the villain that we found – with Bane is, you know, I think that it’s taking it from the approach of allowing the fact that, you know, Bane, because he’s not as known as the other ones, that he’s able to do stuff with him there that is interesting is our little lore that we’re using him. It enables us to kind of dial into him being incredibly – we’ve made him different and I think in his own way I think he’s lethal — as lethal or more, you know what I mean. So yeah, which he needed as we do another movie.
As the producer, when you see things are being leaked, do you feel, not too bad because everyone is saying good things about it. How has this mixed feelings with having things leaked and at the same time having people like it?
Goldberg: Yeah. It’s tough because sometimes you know, when things leak because you don’t want to ruin it for everyone, you know what I mean? It’s — when you’re shooting a movie in the street, you know, nowadays, it’s like – it’s amazing how much has changed since we shot The Dark Knight, because in The Dark Knight there usually was a day before things got out on the Internet, now it’s like within two minutes, it gets on the Internet. And you know, it’s fun because I think on one hand, you’re right, it’s a love/hate thing because on one hand, it’s like it’s the benchmark because people are really that enthusiastic about the project and they want to be the first person to post it and get it out there, which is cool. And ultimately the comments I’ve seen so far have been very positive. It’s just you are very wary of it sometimes because you just don’t want to ruin the surprise, you know what I mean? I just think that, you know – and when people are filming you filming the movie, you don’t want to ruin the illusion of the film. You know what I mean? Like these things – all the movies, they’re kind of like magic tricks. You don’t want other people to see behind the scenes because it’ll ruin all the tricks. So, I don’t know.
Have you made any changes since all this stuff started leaking to try to prevent future leaks?
Goldberg: We haven’t had to because I think we’ve been very lucky. Because as much as people think they’ve figured it out, they haven’t, so.
And on that cryptic note.
Goldberg: Thank you very much guys. I appreciate it. All right.
Thanks for having us.
Goldberg: Enjoy the rest…
For more from our The Dark Knight Rises set visit:
- 20 Things to Know About The Dark Knight Rises From Our Set Visit; Plus a Recap of Filming Including Bane’s Big Entrance
- Christian Bale Talks Shooting in IMAX, Ending the Trilogy, Fight Scenes with Tom Hardy and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Anne Hathaway Talks Fighting in Heels, Adapting to Christopher Nolan’s Universe, Filming in IMAX and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Tom Hardy Talks Following Heath Ledger’s Joker, Bane’s Costume and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Producer Emma Thomas Talks Drawing from Comic Books, Bane, Filming in IMAX and Much More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould Talks Topping The Dark Knight, New Vehicles, and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Nestor Carbonell Talks Secrecy, His Character’s Relationship with Commissioner Gordon, Cleaning Up Gotham and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises
- Costume Designer Lindy Hemming Talks Her Approach to the Catsuit, Redesigning Bane for Nolan’s Universe, and More on the Set of The Dark Knight Rises