In a recent revelation on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, screenwriter David S. Goyer peeled back the curtain on a near-miss casting decision that could have had Jake Gyllenhaal donning the iconic cape and cowl as Batman for Christopher Nolan‘s legendary franchise.
Goyer, shedding light on those pivotal casting discussions, shared that he had advocated for Gyllenhaal, who was 42 at the time, to take on the role of Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne, in 2005’s Batman Begins. Ultimately, the role found its home with Christian Bale, who went on to portray the enigmatic hero in Nolan’s trilogy of films, including the acclaimed “The Dark Knight.”
Reflecting on those casting deliberations, Goyer remarked, “We would chat about all sorts of things. There were a number of people who had screen-tested, and I had advocated for Gyllenhaal. I mean, Gyllenhaal is amazing, Christian Bale is amazing, so who knows what.” Goyer also hinted at the possibility of there being footage somewhere of Gyllenhaal auditioning in a Batman costume.
Goyer went on to recall an interesting tidbit about Warner Bros.’ executive desires, sharing that there was interest in having Leonardo DiCaprio portray The Riddler as a villain in the sequel, “The Dark Knight.” However, Goyer emphasized, “That’s not the way we work.” He explained that their approach was to craft the movies around a central story or theme, rather than building them around a specific villain.
For “Batman Begins,” Katie Holmes portrayed Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Rachel Dawes, but she was later recast for the sequel. Jake Gyllenhaal’s own family connection to the Batman world came into play here, as his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, stepped into the role.
While Jake Gyllenhaal might have missed out on the role of Batman, he eventually found his moment in the world of comic-book movies. In 2019, he took on the role of supervillain Mysterio opposite Tom Holland in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Reflecting on this experience, Gyllenhaal shared with Vanity Fair that it transformed his perspective on acting, leading him to embrace the joy of the craft. He revealed, “It was such a cathartic thing to be able to throw out away all that seriousness and really become the actor that I think I’ve always wanted to be in a lot of ways. … We go through journeys in our life where we’re finding ourselves, and in the case of Spider-Man, I think I realized, ‘Hey, you know, acting’s really fun, you know, enjoy it!'”