We’ve seen Christian Bale as Batman.
We’ve seen Heath Ledger as The Joker.
We’ve seen Aaron Eckhart as District Attorney Harvey Dent.
And now, thanks to a Chicago native who was in the right place at the right time to snap some photos during filming of The Dark Knight there, we’ve seen Maggie Gyllenhaal — one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life (and I did see her in my life once, when I passed her on the street in Chicago a couple of years ago) — as Rachel Dawes!
There’s rarely been a hotter case of the hots than the hots I’ve got for Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I’m blown away by how gorgeous she looks in those photos. (I love how long her hair is. That’s a lot of hair. I bet it smells awesome. And the long brown coat. So gorgeous. I love a woman in a good coat. It’s a fascination that began, I think, when Gillian Anderson used to wear all those great coats as the enigmatically dreamy Agent Scully on The X-Files.)
Shortly after Batman Begins debuted in 2005, I was having an email conversation about it with my friend Lauren in which we were casting other Batman characters. In that email, my first (and only) choice for Selina Kyle — aka Catwoman — was Maggie Gyllenhaal. (My other favorite bit of casting from that exchange was Bryce Dallas Howard as Poison Ivy.) So when rumors started circulating earlier this year that Maggie had been cast in The Dark Knight, I hoped she was secretly being cast as Selina Kyle.
But alas, she’s playing Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The role of Rachel, of course, was originated by Katie Holmes in Begins. Katie dropped out of The Dark Knight for the “official” reason that it would conflict with her ability to be in Mad Money — a low budget comedy co-starring Queen Latifah and Ted Danson — but I suspect foul play.
Either way, I loved Katie Holmes in Batman Begins. I thought she perfectly embodied Rachel’s sweetness and goodness and determination and hope, and she was particularly gifted at successfully portraying Rachel over a number of years. For example, in the scene she shares with Christian Bale in the kitchen, when Rachel and Bruce Wayne are supposed to be in their early 20s, she seems much more youthful and much more vibrant than she does later in the film, when she and Bruce are 30. (And I’m not saying that she’s not vibrant in the rest of the film. It’s just a different kind of vibrant, more defined, more mature.) It’s the little things like that that I always appreciate. Katie was wonderful in that film, and I’ll miss her in this one.
But if you’re going to recast a role, then why not go for the gold? And Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the finest — in every sense of the word, SHAZAM! — and most fearless actresses of any generation. I can’t wait to see her in the movie, or to see the movie, period.
You knew that already.
Anyway, I wish I could watch The Dark Knight with Maggie Gyllenhaal on July 18, 2008!