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Wonder Woman may be the dominant DC hero of the moment, courtesy of Patty Jenkins' blockbuster origin film, but Batman enjoyed an impressive run for several years between the early Superman days and now. There was a period where the Dark Knight was played in screen by an army of A-list talents -- from Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer to George Clooney and Christian Bale -- in an array of good (and bad) Batman films. With each new year comes another anniversary of a classic Batman film... and a not-so-classic film, like Joel Schumacher's final stab at the Caped Crusader, Batman & Robin.
Several people behind the neon-drenched Day Glo nightmare sat down with The Hollywood Reporter recently to talk about what went right, and what went wrong, as Batman & Robin turns 20 years old. And in the process, they put to rest a few longstanding rumors that have swirled around the project for years. Let's run through the most interesting ones that, officially, can be laid to rest.
Patrick Stewart Was Never Supposed To Play Freeze
Nabbing Patrick Stewart for the villainous role of Victor Freeze could have been a coup for Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin. The esteemed thespian was already winning fans as Picard in the Star Trek universe. There have been rumors that Stewart and Anthony Hopkins (currently seen in a Transformers sequel) were considered for the role that eventually went to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Joel Schumacher tells THR that isn't the case. The director confirms:
It's a wonderful idea. But no one ever suggested him. I had met with Arnold several times, because he was always interested in working together.
I'm not sure if it has ever been confirmed that Patrick Stewart was the inspiration for the Mr. Freeze that turned up on the Batman: The Animated Series program, which ran on TV through the 1990s. But because Stewart never got in the conversation for Batman & Robin, Freeze will be frozen in our minds as a cigar-chomping, pun-spitting supervillain. That's a shame.
Julia Roberts Was Never Set To Play Poison Ivy
This is another bit of fan casting, as Julia Roberts had worked with Joel Schumacher on Flatliners and Dying Young, so many connected her to the role of Poison Ivy in the director's second Batman movie. Not the case, however, as Schumacher explains to the trade publication:
Julia and I did two movies together back to back. We're friends. She would have picked up the phone and called me.
That wasn't destined to be the case. Schumacher confirms that he decided to cast Uma Thurman in the role after seeing her in a Vanity Fair cover shoot. Thurman's star was red hot at the time, thanks to her winning turn in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. But the high-profile flops of Batman & Robin and The Avengers (not THAT Avengers) likely scared Thurman off blockbusters, sending her back to QT for the two Kill Bill films.
Joel Schumacher Never Had An Arkham Asylum Script
There have been rumors over the years that between Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Joel Schumacher had a script that would feature numerous Batman villains in an Arkham Asylum setting, but was swayed into doing Batman & Robin so that the studio could sell more toys. The Arkham idea is very popular among Batman fans -- there's currently a rumor going around that Matt Reeves and Ben Affleck may do the Asylum setting for their eventual solo Batman movie. But Schumacher shoot that rumor down in the THR piece, saying:
I remember a few journalists calling me and saying, 'There's a rumor that you felt you never got to make your Batman movie and that you had a secret script. And that you were going to shoot that.' Well that's all fantasy. ... I always wanted to do a whole Arkham movie, and did a scene at the end of Batman Forever when Jim [Carrey] is in a straightjacket and Nicole [Kidman] comes to see him. And it was just a nod to back to Arkham Asylum, which I love, and I thought it would be fun to put the other villains up there.
That version never got off the ground. And Batman & Robin killed Joel Schumacher's future in the Dark Knight realm, leading to the Christopher Nolan reboot. That's a win, in our column.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Didn't Shave His Head
It looks like he did. And he ALMOST did. But Arnold Schwarzenegger actually backed down at the last minute and opted not to shave his head to play Mr. Freeze on screen... leading to the creation of a very expensive bald cap at the last minute. Jeff Dawn, Arnold long-time makeup artist, recalls that he originally had convinced the massive action star to shave his head. But, when the razors came out, Dawn clarifies:
He goes, 'I changed my mind. I want to wear a bald cap for the film.' Oh my god! That's a big deal. ... I'm looking at Arnold. He's looking at me with this big shit-grin smile, like 'Jeff go ahead! I dare you.' And I turned [the electric razor] off and put the shaver back, thinking, 'OK, I'm not going to go this route.' I'm glad I didn't to this day.
Instead, the bald cap became part of Schwarzenegger's daily makeup process, and added an extra one hour and 45 minutes to the cycle, just to put it on. The THR article also details the rig they created so that the inside of Freeze's mouth would light up. Naturally, it came with a whole host of problems, not the least of which being that it leaked battery acid into the star's mouth. No wonder he spit out all of those bad puns!