Batman: The Long Halloween is of the most influential Batman stories ever told. Despite this, it’s never been adapted directly for the big screen until now. Originally written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale, the story sees a relatively inexperienced Caped Crusader trying to track down Holiday, a murderer who’s targeting members of the Gotham mob on public holidays.
As Batman, James Gordon, and Harvey Dent try to bring the killer to justice, the mob’s chokehold on Gotham is broken, and it’s not long before Gotham has a new class of criminal, the supervillain. After decades of waiting DC and Warner Bros have finally adapted this seminal work of fiction into a two-part animated movie.
Directed by Chris Palmer and starring the voices of Jensen Ackles as Batman, Naya Rivera as Catwoman, Troy Baker as The Joker, and many more, the movie is a love letter to comic fans everywhere. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is available to buy now, so to celebrate, we sat down with Julie Nathanson, who plays Gilda Dent, to talk about how she got involved with the film, her thoughts on Gilda’s important role in the story, and why she thinks Batman’s endured for so long as a character.
The Digital Fix: Julie, I want to start by asking, how did you come on board The Long Halloween?
Julie Nathanson: Well, if memory serves, I auditioned, and basically, when I saw the script, I was very intrigued by Gilda. I’ve worked with DC and Warners before on a couple of projects, and I knew Chris Palmer, who was directing. So I auditioned for him and just did what I felt was consistent with what I sensed about Gilda, and then I got the job. It was very straightforward.
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But really, I’d heard of Batman: The Long Halloween, but I’d never read it. I just knew how important it was to the canon and the fans, and I was really excited to be part of this film. I shrieked when I got the part.
You mentioned how important this is to fans. How did it feel to star in an adaptation of such a widely beloved story?
It was an honour. Someone needs to come up with some new words that are synonymous with honour when it’s asked of us. The truth is when handed an opportunity like this, there’s something about being trusted with this character that was very meaningful to me. I am a voice actor who loves what I do, I get very excited about many opportunities that I’m granted, but this one had a different feeling about it.
I actually chose not to read the source material until after we’d finished principal recording. I’m usually the type of performer who’ll read and study anything I can get my hands on to improve my understanding of the source material. But because this was an adaptation of the source material, I wanted to let Gilda live just in Tim’s script so I could keep it consistent with what was on the page. Only then did I purchase my volume of Batman: The Long Halloween, and I ate it for breakfast.
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I loved the story, and I understand why people loved it and why some of the nuances will have to be enhanced or shifted to create a story that has a flow of a moving picture, the heart of it felt so consistent to the book. I felt like I had done it in the right order, reading Tim Sherdan’s script as my foundation the Jeph’s Long Halloween.
Let’s get a bit more specific about Gilda. How would you describe her?
I see her as extremely human. She is quietly moving through a lot of pain in her life, and a lot of times when we see that, especially in animation, that gets loud, you know? We see people screaming in pain, stomping in pain, we see something cinematic, but Gilda seemed so real to me that dichotomy between wanting to connect with Harvey, wanting to feel that love and connection with her partner, and the part of her that’s remained guarded and protective and feels traumatised from the get-go.
So my experience with Gilda was like she was a person who I’d sit down and ask her how she’s feeling. I always come from a place of empathy when finding a voice or character, whenever I have an interesting role in front of me, I’m always looking to empathise so I can connect with the character, but with Gilda, I felt it immediately. The whole scope of The Long Halloween is about duality, and Gilda’s no exception, so she felt very real.
I really enjoyed the subtle references to her life before Harvey. We hear Gordon say at one point that she used to be a lawyer. Will we see more of that in Part 2?
What a great question. Listen, I don’t know how any story moves into its second part without expanding on some of the information we gleaned in the first part. Certainly, we will learn more about Gilda, the inner workings of her mind and heart, some of which she experienced before Harvey.
But I think that’s part of what makes the story so exciting, in order to keep the flow of the story as we move through these holidays, getting to know each character a little bit more, and that’s what’s so intriguing about this mystery.
You mentioned earlier this isn’t the first time you’ve portrayed a character in the DC animated universe. If you could play any character, who would you play?
Well, let’s see, I started off in the Batman universe in the animated series The Zeta Project, which was a spin-off of Batman Beyond, so I’ve interacted with Batman before. Silver banshee is very different from Gilda.
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I’ve always had a love for Wonder Woman. Still, I have difficulty with this question because I’ve such admiration for all the voice actors who’ve played her before, so it doesn’t feel right to say I’d like to voice her. So what I’ll say is I like the idea of playing a female superhero who’s grounded, with strength and power like Wonder Woman.
Why do you think batman’ such an enduring character?
It’s hard not to focus on the duality again. For so many of these larger than life characters, there’s a duality, but Batman has these two different sides of himself, and each one isn’t exactly who he is. I feel like Batman.
I’ll speak for myself. I’m always looking for glimpses of the little boy, of who he was before his life changed, and knowing he can’t become that little boy again makes him all the more intriguing. He’s a character whose power and determination was fuelled by pain, I see Batman as wanting to master the pain, and I think he’s a wonderfully mysterious character.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 is available on DVD, Blu-ray™ & Blu-ray™ steelbook June 21 and on Digital June 22.