We don’t know much about Aaron Eckhart’s performance as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, do we? Let’s change that.
Forget Tommy Lee Jones’s one-note butchering of the character in Batman Forever, Christopher Nolan is experimenting with a fascinatingly schizophrenic depiction of Two-Face that will blend sane and insane line readings from Eckhart. Basically, Nolan shot complementary takes of Eckhart in Two-Face makeup so he could visually represent the duality of Dent in a less cartoony fashion. What Nolan’s doing doesn’t sound all that far removed from the Gollum/Smeagol model, though the obvious difference here is that Dent isn’t motion-capture; he’s a fifty-fifty split of the same actor giving two wildly divergent performances in the same shot. And because he has two takes of each scene, Nolan has the luxury of shaping Eckhart’s performance in post; it’s just a matter of switching the dial between normal Harvey and bug-fuck Two-Face. Again, both will be present in the shot, but only one will dominate the poor bastard’s conflicted consciousness at any given moment. The technical audacity required in pulling this off may be the reason Two-Face was held back in the trailer.
This is just one of many creative decisions that’s got folks over at the Warner Brothers lot giddy about July 18th. Given the… er, informed speculation I’ve heard regarding The Joker’s more sinister actions in the film, I’ll be shocked if this film doesn’t encounter some trouble with the ratings board. Still, the dark tone doesn’t surprise me nearly as much as Dent’s prominent role in the narrative; it sounds like it’s his vanity (pre-Two-Face) that brings The Joker’s wrath down on Batman.
Everything I’m getting on Nolan’s film is coming in piecemeal, but trust me on this: The Dark Knight is going to play rough. There may be more to come, but I may sit on it for fear of spoiling the film any further.