Christopher Nolan Failed to Get This Harry Potter Star for Batman Begins, Resorted to Liam Neeson
The Dark Knight trilogy might have been mildly different if the first actor Nolan wanted to cast as Ra’s al Ghul was not tired of playing villains all the time.
Christopher Nolan ’s Dark Knight trilogy is widely acclaimed as the best thing that has ever happened to the live-action Batman adaptations, and rightfully so. Even years after its finale, the new Caped Crusader movies still draw inspiration from the dark and gloomy atmosphere of Nolan’s trilogy and its more grounded and cynical approach to the story.
Among many other glorified aspects of the Dark Knight trilogy, most viewers and critics often point out the charismatic and believable villains who don’t possess superpowers and instead are immensely charismatic and utterly insane. Bane, Joker, and Ra’s al Ghul were all portrayed beautifully by very talented actors.
However, the role of the latter — which was famously played by Liam Neeson — was initially offered to another performer altogether. Christopher Nolan was keen on seeing none other than Gary Oldman as Ra’s al Ghul, but the iconic actor was admittedly too tired of playing villains at that point, so he politely refused the offer.
“I met with Gary for Raʼs al Ghul… He’s an actor I admired tremendously, and I wanted to get him in the film. He had played a lot of villains and he wasn’t really interested in playing another villain in our film. I mean, he met with me, we got on very well. But something wasn’t sitting right with him about being the villain in a Batman film,” Nolan shared on the Warner Bros. Entertainment YouTube channel.
That’s when Liam Neeson came into the picture — a brilliant actor, too, he didn’t have much experience portraying villains at that point. But Nolan fixed the issue.
“Liam had never played a villain at the time, he played a lot of mentor-like characters. My view was that you wanted [Ra’s al Ghul] to have familiarity as a mentor. You wanted him to be played by somebody who you would immediately gravitate towards, the way that Bruce is desperately gravitating towards. An answer, a father figure. Someone he can cling to,” the director explained.
We think we can all agree that Liam Neeson pulled off the mentor-villain role, and there was not a single moment when, as viewers, we didn’t feel sympathy for Ra’s al Ghul — even as he was sharing his insane vision of destroying Gotham. We’re convinced that Gary Oldman would’ve been great as Ra’s, too, though.