It’s not an everyday occurrence to see yourself in the most anticipated blockbuster of the year, but that is just where Latino actor Nestor Carbonell (TV’s “Lost”) found himself this summer.
In “The Dark Knight,” the second film of director Christopher Nolan’s visionary Batman franchise, Christian Bale returns to form as the Caped Crusader and is pitted against the psychotic Joker (played by the late Heath Ledger.)
In the film, Carbonell – who is Cuban-American – plays the Mayor of Gotham City.
Tell me how you got involved with the project.
I was given some material last year and told it was going to be for [director] Christopher Nolan. So, I just prepared for it and went in and read and it went well. But I didn’t hear back from anyone for two months so I assumed they had found someone else. Then, I remember I was in Hawaii working on the season finale of “Lost” and I got a call from my manager and he said, “Hey, I got a call and Christopher Nolan wants some tape on you.” I said, “Really, for what part?” He said, “The Mayor of Gotham City.” Two days later, I got the offer. It was a dream call.
I’m sure you had seen “Batman Begins” before the audition, so what was it about this project that made you want to be a part of it?
What I loved about “Batman Begins” was that [Christopher’s] work is really grounded in truth even though it’s a superhero movie set in a fantastical world. I also liked that it was a psychological thriller. It wasn’t your typical action movie. It really dealt deep into the darkness behind the man in the cape.
What does it take to play a politician in a dark, fictional city like Gotham?
I talk to Christopher on the set about it and basically the mayor is a guy who went into politics with good intentions and wanted to reshape Gotham and restore law and order. He was quickly met with the grim reality that things weren’t as easy as he though they would be and he might have to compromise his principles. Although we are fighting against the same enemies, he doesn’t promote vigilante behavior like Batman.
I know most of your scenes are with Gary Oldman (Lt. James Gordon) and Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent/Two-Face), but did you get to work with Heath Ledger at all?
I had a little bit of interaction with him in a couple of scenes, but it was quite minimal. But he did something really interesting in one scene in particular. I announcing something to a group of police officers and they cheer and he sort of mocks the celebration in a very sardonic way. It wasn’t scripted and is a real insight in how free he was in the role.