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Jonathan and Christopher Nolan on How The Dark Knight Affected Fallout

Jonathan and Christopher Nolan on How The Dark Knight Affected Fallout

The crowd at Los Angeles’ DGA Theater was treated to two Nolans for the price of one on Tuesday night, as Christopher Nolan joined brother Jonathan Nolan for a For Your Consideration event in support of the latter’s Fallout series.

Jonathan executive produced the Prime Video show — based on the popular video game exploring a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles — as well as directed three of the episodes. The Oppenheimer filmmaker brought Jonathan to the stage by introducing him as “my baby brother,” as the two dove into a wide-ranging chat that touched on their previous collaboration on The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (which they co-wrote and Christopher directed).

Jonathan noted at one point that in forming a video game into a series, “I watched the way that you adapted Batman from comic books to film and I think the underlying idea was treated with respect, not to try to ape the exact framing of the comic books themselves.”

Christopher responded, “When we were working on Batman, we would talk a lot about [how] you work with a beloved character that people really feel they own. They grew up with the character, they have their own interpretation,” saying that with a video game, fans have total control in the way they play it and have characters behave. “So is that daunting? How do you then impose an experience on it?”

Jonathan admitted the experience was very frightening and “I don’t know I would have had the guts to do it if we hadn’t gone through the experience on Batman… I think often about your casting Heath Ledger [as the Joker] and the months of — I’m not even sure how aware you were of it, because you’re not online; I at the time was very online, and sort of very aware of the fact that people thought, ‘Oh, they’ve blown it,’ right? Because they couldn’t quite see it, it didn’t quite map onto their — it wasn’t Jack Nicholson.”

“I remember watching that and being terrified, because we’d written the draft, and you start of thinking, ‘How’s this gonna work out?’ And I think the answer was, it worked out very, very well,” Jonathan continued, with Ledger winning an Oscar for The Dark Knight. “That gave me the courage to sort of go, OK, look, if you approach these things not for the fans, but as a fan — find something that you love and try to treat it with as much respect as you can and trust that respect and love will show through, even if you have to, in the case as you pointed out, you have to make choices.”

Throughout the conversation, the two discussed Fallout being Jonathan’s first time directing someone else’s screenplay, the casting process for stars Walton Goggins, Ella Purnell and Aaron Moten, and relying on practical props and real locations over CGI.

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Jonathan pointed out shooting in the “Western salt desert of Utah, which I went to for the very first time with you, on the same drive where you were moving to Los Angeles with [Christopher’s wife] Emma in our dad’s car. We stopped at Bonneville and got out — one of the strangest places I’ve ever been and I’ve always had an affection for it from that trip. I’ve always wanted to shoot there and this was really the first opportunity to go back and do it.”

The pair also chatted about Jonathan’s previous work at the helm of Westworld and how that weekly episode release compared to the all-at-once style used for Fallout. “I was and remain a big believer in the week-by-week sort of linear release,” Jonathan explained, but said he noticed with Westworld it was more difficult to pull off a good twist in that format. Versus with Fallout, “We really liked the idea that if people were excited you just let it let it rip. I’m not sure what the health effects of consuming eight hours of this are psychologically, but it does allow people to have that kind of super immersive experience.”

To close out, Christopher tried to ask Jonathan to tease where things go in season two — familiar with those kind of questions himself when sworn to secrecy — as his brother joked, “I can’t believe you would ask me that. Such a betrayal.”

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