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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

About The Production (Continued)
BANE

The shadows betray you because they belong to me.

Leading up to and all during filming, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway all engaged in personalized training regimens in preparation for their action scenes.

Although Bale was embarking on his third outing as Batman, he had to demonstrate more of a physical arc in "The Dark Knight Rises," as Bruce had not been the Caped Crusader for so many years. In the first two films, Bale employed a mixed martial arts discipline called Keysi, but that would have to be modified, reflecting his current condition and in response to the style of his opponent. Stunt coordinator Tom Struthers clarifies, "We didn't drop Keysi, but we evolved it to another level to deal with the brutality of Bane."

Bruce Wayne's physical aptitude may have depleted over time, but Bale's was as honed as ever. Fight coordinator Buster Reeves, who doubled the actor on the first two films, says, "He picks things up unbelievably fast. I told the other stunt guys that he'd only have to walk through the moves twice and he'd have it. And, true to form, Christian came in, broke down each section twice, and then could perform it full tilt. It was amazing."

Reeves switched sides to serve as Hardy's stunt double in "The Dark Knight Rises." He continues, "Tom was already in fantastic shape when he arrived and he was up for anything. In fact, we practically had to kick him out of rehearsals because he wanted to train all the time. He wore us out."

"Tom did a wonderful job becoming this very formidable adversary," says Bale. "He is a very bold actor that I admire greatly, and it was fantastic working with him."

One of the main challenges of choreographing Bane's fights was the juxtaposition of timing. Reeves outlines, "His movements are fast, but he's speaking very slowly and methodically. Trying to move with speed while talking very deliberately is harder than you think. It took a lot of rehearsals to break everything down into beats and determine where Tom should deliver his lines within the action."

When Batman and Bane do battle, "it is just a great piece of cinema," Roven states. "It is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, and it's awesome to watch."

Nolan affirms, "This was very much a toe-to-toe, blow-to-blow physical clash, and Christian and Tom put an incredible amount of work into it. Just the demands of the costumes-one character has the lower half of his face obscured, the other the upper half-posed problems. They had trouble hearing each other because they were wearing those masks and working in very noisy environments while performing these feats.

"It required very intense preparation," the director continues. "And when it came time to shoot, Christian and Tom worked extremely well together. It was frighteningly real, and quite intimidating to see these larger-than-life characters really go at it. There are plenty of other large-scale action scenes in the film, but that face-to-face confrontation between these two adversaries was something I really felt was the centerpiece of the film."

That being said, Thomas points out, "The actors were doing some pretty remarkable stuff, but Anne was having to do it backwards and in high heels, as they say. She did almost all of her stunts herself. It was an enormous undertaking, but she just attacked it with a kind of precision and an impressive level of commitment, and it really pays off in the movie." Struthers agrees. "Selina has to be tough enough to handle herself in any situation, and Anne did extraordinarily well. She was already a very good dancer, and dance and martial arts go hand-in-hand. She listened and learned fast and trained exceptionally hard right up to her last day of filming."

Hathaway says, "I saw it less as a challenge and more as an opportunity to go to a place I had never been required to go before. I also had the benefit of an amazing team, including Tom and my stuntwoman, Maxine Whittaker, who could not have pushed me harder or been more supportive. I knew I was in great hands with them and with Chris. Coming into this role, I knew it was going to be some of the most exciting work I'd ever done and I was going to have the time of my life, but my expectations were far exceeded."

SELINA

My mother warned me about getting into cars with strangers.

BRUCE

This isn't a car.

One of the challenges of playing Catwoman was riding the Bat-Pod, the two-wheeled street machine that made its debut in "The Dark Knight." Designed by Chris Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley, the Bat-Pod was made a reality by special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and his team.

The Bat-Pod sports the same monster truck tires as those on the original Batmobile-better known in the Dark Knight trilogy as the Tumbler. Although it looks rather unwieldy, the Bat-Pod is fast and maneuverable, as well as fully equipped with blast cannons, 50-caliber machine guns and grappling hook launchers.

The Bat-Pod is street-worthy but not easy to ride, requiring strength and a specific technique to control it. During the making of "The Dark Knight," the only one who could actually drive it was professional stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy. Goy did return to ride the Bat-Pod for scenes in "The Dark Knight Rises." However, he did have one obvious drawback, as Hathaway relates: "I was standing there with Chris, looking at the Bat-Pod, and he was telling me about Jean-Pierre and how he's the only person in the world who can drive it. And I turned to him and said, 'Can he look like a woman?'"

Struthers had the exact same thought, noting, "There's no way that a man would ride the Bat-Pod the same way as a woman. But we found the right lady for the job."

Professional motocross racer and stunt rider Jolene Van Vugt-the first female ever to backflip a full-size dirt bike-came on board to double Hathaway when Catwoman hits the streets of Gotham on the Bat-Pod. "I was beyond excited when I got the call," Van Vugt recalls. "When they asked me if I thought I could ride it, I said, 'You give me the opportunity, and I guarantee I can do it.' The biggest hurdle was getting used to the body position because of the way you have to lean forward. It was just a matter of finding my balance and building up my comfort level, but within a few hours I was racing around, having fun."

Corbould did make some adjustments to the Bat-Pod to allow for a female rider. "It's a heavy machine, so we remade some of the frame in aluminum, including the whole front end, to make it lighter and give Jolene a chance to do some spectacular maneuvers," he says.

The Bat-Pod and the Tumbler have given Batman both mobility and firepower on the streets of Gotham, but in this film, he can finally go "wheels up," thanks to Lucius Fox's latest contribution to his arsenal: The Bat. Nolan and Crowley collaborated on the design of the state-of-the-art airborne machine, which borrows elements of an Apache attack helicopter, an Osprey prop jet, and a Harrier jump jet. And, naturally, it had to come in black.

In keeping with the idea that The Bat was an invention of Wayne Enterprises Applied Science Division, Crowley says, "We took the approach that this would be a credible military project, and that gave us a good basis. From a design standpoint, the most important thing was that The Bat fit into the same family as our Batmobile. Initially, it was a matter of finding the shape; we went through many different design sketches before I began modeling something."

Nolan adds, "From a function perspective, the idea

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