A few days after the premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, actor Néstor Carbonell, who plays the mayor of Gotham City, talked to us about Christopher Nolan-directed film. As the central authority figure in the city where the comic book superhero fights criminals the Carbonell, 40, told us that even though he never wanted to be a politician, he’d take the job of mayor any day over being Batman. Then he shared his childhood memories with us about once personifying the superhero. which got him into big trouble with the neighborhood kids. The Cuban actor affirmed that being in the film was a great experience, and he praised the outcome.
What was it like working on The Dark Knight?
It was tremendous. It’s my first time working on such a high budget film with such an incredible cast, helmed by a director that I’ve admired since he made Memento. We filmed in London, Chicago, and for me it was a doubly interesting experience, ’cause I had the opportunity to live in London when I was little, and filming there brought back a lot of memories.
Who do you play in the movie?
I play the mayor of Gotham City. I talked to the director about what kind of character he thought this was, and from there emerged this mayor who’s a bit of an idealist, but someone who grew a little cynical when he realized that things in Gotham City were harder to deal with than he thought. He’s a tough guy, and truth be told, he’s not really amused by Batman’s antics because although they share the same enemy, Batman doesn’t work within the system of city laws, and he sees him as a nuisance.
Did the mayor’s bad temper leave a mark on you?
Lately, I’ve been a worried because I keep on playing characters that have bad tempers, and if I keep it up, I’m either going to have to change agents or psychiatrists.
What was your association with Batman as the comic book hero before you made the film? Did you used to play with action figures as a kid?
As a kid, I loved the Batman movies. But the last time I really thought about him was when I started my career as an actor. A friend of mine who played Batman at birthday parties for kids couldn’t make it to one of the parties and asked me to fill in for him. I thought it would be fun and easy, so I said yes, but it was just the opposite. The kids just ruined me. They hated my costume and acting and thought I was just lousy. Most of them left the party crying, and now I realize I’m a lot less like Batman, and much more like the mayor.
What makes this Batman movie different?
Well, I think what’s interesting about this film is that Christopher Nolan makes the comic book hero more human than what we’ve seen in the past. And although Batman doesn’t have typical superhero powers, what the director’s done is to analyze the characters from a more psychological point of view, and the result is impressive. The movie is profound on all levels: action, acting, and I think that Heath Ledger (who died last January and played the role of Joker) is worthy of an Oscar.
Put yourself in the shoes of Gotham’s mayor, and send a message to all those who may test your authority
You know what, you better be careful cause there’s a tough mayor in town who doesn’t tolerate criminals, and who doesn’t bend when it comes to maintaining principles and solidifying justice in this great city.