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Brett Cullen Recalls Differing Experiences On The Sets of The Dark Knight Rises and Joker [Exclusive]

Brett Cullen
Brett Cullen in The Dark Knight Rises (Top) and Joker (Bottom)

Brett Cullen is one of the few actors who can boast that he’s in two Batman movies. Sort of.

The veteran thespian has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Todd Phillips’ Joker. In their ways, both films made their marks in the Batman universe for its story and direction. Although Batman wasn’t the primary character in the Joker film, it utilizes the same basic lore that the villain was made notorious in the Batman lore.

During an interview for the television show Big Dogs, LRM Online asked Cullen to reminisce about his experiences on both film productions. He told us exclusively on the differences between to two blockbusters.

Cullen began the discussion about The Dark Knight Rises, in which he played a Congressman at a gathering.

“On both of them, I had the honor of working with two great directors. Chris Nolan is such a brilliant mind,” he recalled about his scene in The Dark Knight Rises. “Here’s the difference with the two movies—you couldn’t tell on set—but one was the $250 million budget, and the other was a $50 million budget. So there’s a big difference. Our craft service on The Dark Knight Rises in London, and wherever we shot was a restaurant. It was huge. You could see the entire city. There was so much food.”

He continued, “The experience with The Dark Knight Rises was just getting to work with those people. I got to work with everybody, including Gary Oldman and Anne [Hathaway]. It was a true joy. The great thing was when we were in Nottingham to shoot in this castle, which is Wayne Manor for the exteriors, there was a green room inside the castle for all of us for sitting around and chatting. To me, I love to act, but I also love people. I love talking to people, picking their brains, and hearing what their world’s all about. That was great.”

Cullen praised Chris Nolan’s management on set by sharing a story.

“Chris is so talented in what he does. We would shoot on a Thursday and then told us we’re not shooting tomorrow. I would ask why. They told me, ‘Well, Chris said we have rough days next week. So Chris wants to give the crew a break. We’ve got what we needed, and we don’t need to shoot Friday,’” Cullen recollected. “Which I’ve never had ever in my life heard of, because time is money. I know this since I’ve been a producer as well.”

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As for Joker, Cullen played the important Thomas Wayne, who has (or lack of) relationship with Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck. The differences between the productions were like night and day.

“Then you go to Joker. I had a lot of fun on The Dark Knight Rises. It was an intense shoot because it’s a big, huge movie. Joker was something else. It’s one of the few times in my life where I worked as an actor where I was scared,” he explained. “It was such an intense movie with Joaquin—that guy was so amazing. We would be in the makeup trailer, and he’d said, “Hello. How was your day? What did you do last night?” And then he’d walk out in his wardrobe. Suddenly, he was Arthur Fleck from that moment forward. There was no chit chat. I had to do the same thing.”

Brett Cullen had to turn to Todd Phillips for advice because he was having difficulty with the scene.

He continued with his story, “So I just turned him and said, ‘Listen, I’ve got to stay as Thomas Wayne. I can’t fall into his energy.’ He went, ‘Don’t do that. You’re the richest man of Gotham. He would never do that.’ That was the key for me when he told me that.”

Cullen praised Phillips as a great collaborator on set.

“Todd is absolutely a collaborative, wonderful guy. I loved working with him. He’s brilliant. He’s a genius. Todd was able to direct The Hangover and then Joker. Take a look at that spectrum and figure out what’s in that guy’s head to be able to do that,” he commended.

As for Joaquin Phoenix, Cullen knew he was going all the way to the Oscars.

“Joaquin was intense. He’s such a great guy. He came up to me at the premiere and gave me a big hug. I was like, “Whoa!” I didn’t have that relationship with them on set,” he looked back. “He dove so deeply into that so brilliantly that he got mad at me at the party after the premiere. I walked up, and I hugged him. I said, ‘I’ll see you at the Oscars.’ He went, ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t say that! No, no, no!’ And I said, ‘Dude, you’re going to with a fucking Oscar for this.’ And he did. He deserved it.”

The full interview with Brett Cullen for Big Dogs will be out tomorrow exclusively on this site.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Warner Bros. 

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