Robert Downey Jr wanted to play Scarecrow in Batman Begins

Robert Downey Jr and Shane Black
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Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr has revealed that he was keen to play the villain in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins… but Nolan was less enthused.

Here’s one of those sliding doors moments that could have changed the cinematic landscape: Robert Downey Jr has revealed that he was keen to play Scarecrow in 2005’s Batman Begins. The actor went as far as securing a meeting with Christopher Nolan, the film’s director, to discuss the role – but as he recalls, he could tell that Nolan just wasn’t that into the idea.

Downey Jr was chatting at a career retrospective interview at Los Angeles’ American Cinematheque Theatre, and revealed that he wanted the role once he became aware of it. According to Variety, he said, “I’m pretty sure I heard about [this role] and I was like, ‘I’m Scarecrow. And then I remember meeting [Nolan] for tea and I was like, ‘He doesn’t seem like he’s really in on this interview.’ And he was polite and all that. But you can tell when someone is kind of like, ‘It’s not going to go anywhere.’”

Of course, the role would eventually go to Cillian Murphy, although Murphy himself was set on playing the title role of Batman until Nolan persuaded him that he was far more suited to that of the demented Scarecrow character. As far as collaborating with Nolan goes, those meetings would form the beginnings for future collaborations for both Downey Jr and Murphy. Murphy would go on to work with Nolan several times while Downey would eventually get to work with the director on Oppenheimer, earning lots of plaudits too. All three have earned Oscar nods for the film, so things worked out pretty well there.

Of course, not being Nolan’s choice for Scarecrow would work out pretty well for Downey, too. He’d go off and make two wonderful films released in the same year as Batman Begins, in the form of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Good Night, And Good Luck. That in turn heralded his return to prominence which saw him snag the role of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (in which he’s pictured) and he did pretty well out of that, we hear.

As for future projects, Downey is attached to a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and there’s the possibility of a third Sherlock Holmes film too, but given how Chris Nolan likes to collaborate with the same actors, another turn with the celebrated British director isn’t out of the question for him, either. Right now though, he simply seems to be enjoying another victory lap, this time for his performance in Oppenheimer. And really, who can blame him?

Read more: Christopher Nolan revisited | Batman Begins

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