‘The Batman’: Paul Dano Struggled to Sleep After Playing the Riddler

The Riddler Paul Dano

Paul Dano, who will appear in in a role of Edward Nashton in The Batman, reflects on sleepless nights thanks to “intense” scene he had to film. Nashton, a.k.a. the Riddler is a puzzle-loving serial killer targeting the potentially corrupt elite of Gotham City and leaving his favorite nemesis, Batman, enigmatic messages and riddles.

In the process of creating the character, the director Matt Reeves was inspired by a real-life serial killer Zodiac, which is a huge jump from Jim Carrey’s colorful, melodramatic Riddler in Batman Forever. Dano recalls the intensity of some of the scenes and how it impacted his daily life, even his sleep. It is telling that Dano, who often portrayed disturbing characters, finds it hard to come down from his character when the lights turn off and instead keeps carrying the Riddler with him.

“There’s a sequence with Peter Sarsgaard’s character (Gotham district attorney Gil Colson). That was intense. There were some nights around that I probably didn’t sleep as well as I would’ve wanted to just because it was a little hard to come down from this character. It takes a lot of energy to get there. And so you almost have to sustain it once you’re there because going up and down is kind of hard.”

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Dano was impressed by the script immediately, feeling that the opportunity that Reeves was giving with a villain “was the more real, potentially the more terrifying.” He dislikes the trend of superhero movies presenting the concepts of good and evil as black and life, and believes the grey area are more exciting, in which both protagonists and antagonists may fall into.

The actor’s investment in the character, but also the psychological turmoil he endures due it is recognized by Reeves himself:

“Paul is really a chameleon. He’s brilliant in so much. But I think you see him going through a very internal tortured experience in his characters. You can see him really in an active way, having this kind of psychological turmoil that I find is really compelling.”

It looks like the Riddler will be a truly fascinating character – both thanks to the director’s unique characterization of the villain and the actor’s approach to subject and evident passion he pours into his work.