Superhero moviemakers have long had to deal with the challenge of having their leading men act through face-coverings. That’s why Spider-Man often whips off his mask or Iron Man depowers his helmet during the third act. For The Batman, however, director Matt Reeves was determined to keep the cowl on Bruce Wayne as much as possible and have star Robert Pattinson emote through it. But it turns out this caused no end of turmoil for the actor himself.
While speaking to Collider, Reeves and Pattinson discussed the difficulty of working with Batman’s cowl. The filmmaker joked that his big aim to capture emotion through the mask was “a terrible mistake,” explaining:
“Of course, the point was to make his emotions be visible through the cowl. We had no idea how hard it was going to be. I mean, there were times when I would come to Rob, and I’d go, ‘Okay, great. I just need to feel a little more.’ And he’d be like, ‘More? More?'”
So what did Pattinson say to that? “I’m about to have an embolism,” the star joked. “Yeah, he was about to burst a vein,” Reeves agreed, before praising R-Patz’s ability to push himself despite the challenge:
“But it was one of these things, I have to say, it’s a true testament to Rob as a performer. And he’s so technical as well as incredibly emotional. I would watch Rob get himself into that state where he would be getting really raw before he would shoot. Then I would be saying like, ‘I think I need to see a little bit more through the cowl.’ I would just be doing that. But that was, it was definitely by design, and it was a huge challenge. And thank God I had Rob to work with.”
The duo went on to recollect one particularly tough day when 40-odd takes were required of one scene, which left Pattinson frustrated until Reeves invited him to take a look at the monitor and see what the issue was for himself. As Pattinson said:
“That was maybe the worst day of the whole shoot, because I really, genuinely thought it was you that was wrong. And then I was like, ‘How can we be doing 40 takes?’ And then you’re like, ‘Just come and look at it.’ And I was looking at it, going like, ‘Wow,’ like I’m, ‘There’s nothing. There’s nothing happening.'”
Batman’s cowl has long caused problems for Bat-actors. Michael Keaton infamously couldn’t turn his head in his restrictive cowl, while Christian Bale had a similar problem in Batman Begins. At this point, costumers have worked out how to allow the Batmen to move their necks but it’s still hard work for the star inside it to do more than just glare through the eye-holes. Still, at least Pattinson’s actual costume was a lot more comfortable to wear than the Batman & Robin edition he inherited from George Clooney that he wore for his screen test.
We’ll see R-Patz in action when The Batman finally hits theaters on March 4.