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Christian Bale wasn’t Nolan’s first choice for Batman

Christian Bale, who starred as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's Batman movie trilogy, wasn't the director's first choice for the role.

Christian Bale as Batman

Christian Bale is one of the best Batman actors to have ever played the caped crusader. The superhero movie star featured in Christopher Nolan’s epic thriller movie trilogy as Bruce Wayne, where he took on a wide number of fearsome movie villains including Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Bale was so good in the role, with his gravelly voice and physical presence, that it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the part in the DC movie trilogy.

However, Bale wasn’t Nolan’s first choice to star as the titular character in the Batman movie trilogy. That honour goes to Josh Hartnett.

Hartnett is best known for his roles in 2000s movies like Ridley Scott war movie Black Hawk Down, as well as Pearl Harbour from Michael Bay. The actor also features in the new movie Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre – check out our Operation Fortune review – and will star in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer too.

However, before the Oppenheimer release date, Nolan wanted to take on Hartnett for Batman. Speaking with Playboy magazine (via The Guardian) Hartnett explained how he was offered the part, and why he turned it down.

“I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That’s frowned upon in this industry. People don’t like being told no. I don’t like it. I learned my lesson when Christopher Nolan and I talked about Batman. I decided it wasn’t for me. Then he didn’t want to put me in The Prestige. They not only hired their Batman [Christian Bale] for it, they also hired my girlfriend [Scarlett Johansson] at the time.”

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Hartnett continued, “That’s when I realised relationships were formed in the fire of that first Batman film, and I should have been part of the relationship with this guy Nolan, who I felt was incredibly cool and very talented. I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor. I should have thought, ‘Well, then, work harder, man.’ Watching Christian Bale go on to do so many other things has been just awesome. I mean, he’s been able to overcome that. Why couldn’t I see that at the time?”

Clearly Hartnett regrets the decision, and it’s not hard to see why. Bale’s performance as Wayne has been career-defining, and he continues to be one of the biggest names in Hollywood, while Hartnett’s career has progressed at a slower pace. Still, we have to say we’re glad it’s Bale who eventually got the role, and he really was a close-to-perfect Batman.

For more on Batman, check out our guide to The Batman 2 release date or Joker 2 release date. Or, get a better look at The Flash release date to prepare for the return of Michael Keaton and the start of Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters.