Robert Downey Jr recalls meeting Christopher Nolan over Batman Begins' Scarecrow – and realizing he wouldn't be getting the part

 Robert Downey Jr in Oppenheimer/Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins.
Robert Downey Jr in Oppenheimer/Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins.

Robert Downey Jr. has recalled sitting down with Christopher Nolan to discuss the role of Scarecrow in Batman Begins – and how he realized pretty quickly that he was never going to be cast as the DC villain...

During a recent American Cinematheque event, in which Downey Jr. delighted Oppenheimer fans by doing a surprise Q&A before a screening of the film in Los Angeles, the actor revealed he was once in talks to star in the first outing in Nolan's acclaimed The Dark Knight Trilogy. As we all know, though, Scarecrow, AKA Dr. Jonathan Crane, wound up being brought to life by Downey Jr's Oppenheimer co-star Cillian Murphy.

"I remember meeting [Nolan] for tea and I was like, 'He doesn't seem like he’s really leaning in on this interview.' He was polite and all that but you can tell when someone is kind of like... it's not gonna go anywhere," Downey Jr. explained in a video uploaded to Twitter by Griffin Schiller, suggesting that Nolan already had Murphy in mind to play Crane.

As has been widely reported, Murphy didn't actually audition for Scarecrow; he was gunning for Bruce Wayne. But when Nolan selected Christian Bale as his Caped Crusader, he looked to include the Irish actor elsewhere.

Downey Jr. isn't likely to be holding a grudge over being passed up, considering he went on to land the role of Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, and became the highest-paid actor in Hollywood just a couple of years later.

At the 2024 Academy Awards, Downey Jr. is up for Best Supporting Actor following his performance as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer, while the historical drama's lead Murphy has been nominated for Best Actor.

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