A recent Happy Sad Confused podcast episode featured a few exclusive details from screenwriter David S. Goyer. Goyer acknowledged that he recommended Jake Gyllenhaal to play Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, released in 2005. Christian Bale eventually won the part and stayed in it for three films.
Goyer acknowledged, “We would chat about all sorts of things. There were a number of people who had screen-tested, and I had advocated for Gyllenhaal. I mean, Gyllenhaal is amazing, Christian Bale is amazing, so who knows what.” When asked if there was a video of Gyllenhaal auditioning in a Batman outfit, he responded, “I believe there is.”
Before Bale acquired the cape and cowl, a few other well-known actors, including Gyllenhaal, were also under consideration to play Bruce and his vigilante alter ego in Batman Begins. In Nolan’s trilogy, both performers later played members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. In all three films, Cillian Murphy portrayed the Scarecrow, also known as Jonathan Crane, while Heath Ledger received a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
There were other contenders for Ra’s Al Ghul in Nolan’s trilogy, but Liam Neeson prevailed because he “was a little older,” according to Goyer, who also discussed the other roles. According to him, it made more sense in the context of the narrative they were attempting to make about “this paternal story about the shadow of his (Bruce’s) father.”
Another interesting fact: According to Goyer, a Warner Bros. executive who shall remain nameless wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play The Riddler in the follow-up, The Dark Knight. However, Goyer remarked, “That’s not the way we work.” Instead of villains, the films were created around ideas. The Joker was portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, whom Gyllenhaal co-starred with in the 2008 film The Dark Knight and for whom posthumously Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was awarded.