Christian Gordine speaks to the newest actor behind Batman's famous cowl, Sam Heughan, about the Batman Live World Arena Tour. You'll have to take our word for it that he's rather handsome.
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So what can we expect from Batman Live?
What can you expect from Batman Live? Basically a comic book come to life, live on stage. It’s spectacular. It really is. I know a lot of people over use that word but there really is no other way to describe it. Spectacular. It’s hard to comprehend how big it is until you see it. It’s full of live action with people flying, midair fights, trapeze acts, and the Batmobile even flies on stage. In a nutshell it’s the Batman comic books put on stage. It’s pretty big and hard to get your head around it until you’re in the 02 arena, sitting in Gotham City with all these characters are surrounding you. It’s just hard not to love it.
How does it feel playing such an iconic character?
The whole experience has just been incredible. It still hasn’t really hit me that I’m playing Batman. He is such a fantastic character to play and there is so much history attached to his character and the franchise. It’s just a lot of fun really. Batman is just a really tragic character, which makes playing him really interesting. People have different interpretations and ideas of who Batman is but the production and myself have stuck very close to the comic books. A lot of it is based on the Jim Lee drawings for the comics. So it’s very close to the original comics. Fans will not be disappointed.
The Batman costume is pretty iconic – how does one go about filling the famous codpiece?
[Laughs] Hopefully amply. It’s certainly part of the joy having to wear that amazing costume. The codpiece is definitely filled. Robin’s costume is pretty amazing as well, but I wouldn’t like to say that there is any jealousy involved. Well, Batman definitely has a bigger and better costume. We’re all very professional here and all the costumes get put under lock and key but I would love to don it and wear it out some evening but sadly that’s never going to happen.
Speaking of Robin, what’s the deal with you guys? What’s the gayest thing about your relationships?
[Laughs] The costumes of course. Well, you know…they’re lycra. It’s a great relationship. There are like father like son and they bond on the same level. They both lost their parents in tragic ways so they’re close on many levels. What ever anyone reads into it, it’s their own interpretations. There are a couple tongue in cheek moments but on the whole we can’t do a disservice to the comics and to the fans so the relationship between Batman and Robin sticks to how the original comics intended it to be.
Well you’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill with George Clooney and Christian Bale having also played onscreen versions of Batman. What makes your interpretation of a very familiar character different to other renditions?
There are so many ways to play this character and the whole experience has been really interesting. When we first started rehearsals I tried to recreate what I’d seen on film and TV and realised quite soon that it just wasn’t going to work. I had to create my own take. I’ve read a lot of the comics, watched all the films and tried to get as much feeling for it as I could. It really is an amazing world and the show is live every night. Live action. Live stunts. With the films there was obviously the option of re-shooting and getting it right. They had stunt doubles, but with us, we do it all ourselves. So the person flying above you in the air is still the same person acting on stage. We have such a strong story in this version and we really explore the creation of Robin. It’s a lovely story. It’s really exciting with the batmobile flying on stage and there are characters like Alfred the Butler, the Scarecrow, Two Face, Poison Ivy, everyone’s favourite characters. The audience just love it.
What do you think it is about comic books that appeal to the gay community?
Wow. I guess it’s all linked to identity and finding out what your true identity is. Comic books celebrate identity or masked identity. They dress up, which is fantastic, and there is a lot of fun to be had, so it’s about identity and who you are and celebrating it.
What’s your favourite Batman film and why? (The correct answer to this is, and will only ever be, Batman Returns)
[Laughs] Yes, it’s a really good one but I’m starting to go along with Batman Forever as my favourite. But my all time favourite is of course the original Batman. Danny DiVito was also great and the Tim Burton adaptations are just fantastic, but my favourite will still be Batman Forever because it has a lot of the same characters that we have with the stage production. It’s really close. If you watch Batman Forever you will see a lot of our production in it.
Our style editor fancies you. Any chance of you stripping off for us?
Really? [Long laugh] It depends what sort of article you guys are planning to run. Well, we’ll just have to see. Actually the guy who plays Two Face, he’s a photographer, and he’s taken a lot of photo’s of the boys with their tops off. They’re really good shots, so maybe you could work with that?
Finally what else is in store for Batman Live?
Well we’re all over Europe and heading to Germany, France, Italy, Copenhagen, Oslo and then we’re hoping to crack North America maybe even Asia. We want world domination.
Batman Live is at the 02, London for 11 nights from 24 August. For tickets and full UK tour dates have a look here.