In the making of The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway had a major task in front of her, what with being the first actor to take on the part of Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman in a live-action film after Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic performance in Batman Returns. Ultimately she did a great job, leaving her own stamp on the history of the slick criminal – but that just makes it all the more funny to note that Hathaway initially thought there was going to be a wholly different challenge given to her with the project: becoming the first ever live-action version of Harley Quinn.
This fun bit of Batman trivia was recently discussed by Anne Hathaway during a career retrospective interview with BBC Radio 1, a portion of the conversation dedicated to her time making The Dark Knight Rises. The interviewer asked the actor about the initial process that led to her getting the role, and Hathaway admitted that she went into her first meeting with director Christopher Nolan fully expecting that she was going to be up for the role of Harley Quinn in the developing blockbuster.
With this notion in mind, she prepared for the conversation by making some strange fashion choices, also altering her demeanor so that the filmmaker could get a sense of what she could potentially bring to Harley Quinn as a character. Said Hathaway,
I came in and I had this lovely Vivian Westwood kind of beautiful-but-mad tailoring top with stripes going everywhere. And I wore these flat Joker-ey looking shoes. And I was trying to give Chris these crazy little smiles.
This impish act apparently went on for quite a while, but the whole plan then fell apart in an instant. Christopher Nolan made it clear what role he had in mind for Anne Hathaway in the film that would be The Dark Knight Rises, and it definitely wasn’t Harley Quinn. Suddenly Hathaway was struck with the need to totally change her attitude, and also became distraught about her choice of outfits:
About an hour into the meeting he said ‘Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but it’s Catwoman.’ And I was shifting into a different gear. ‘Now ok, we’re slinky. We’re slinky. And I hate my shirt. I love my shirt, but I hate it right now. We’re slinky.’
Unfortunately Anne Hathaway doesn’t mention where she got the impression that she was up for the part of Harley Quinn – but everything worked out for the best in the end. Christopher Nolan evidently wasn’t put off by Hathaway’s subtle nods towards the role of Harley Quinn, and after the meeting he kept her in mind for the part in The Dark Knight Rises – ultimately giving it to her. Then just three years later the fan-favorite Cupid of Crime finally got her shot on the big screen, played by Margot Robbie in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, and now she is a staple of the ever-expanding DC Extended Universe.
What would The Dark Knight Rises have been like had Anne Hathaway been enlisted to play Harley Quinn in the film? I’ll let your brains chew on that scenario while we wait for future updates about both Harley and the new Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
- Eric Eisenberg