Ricky Church chats with actress Julie Nathanson about Batman: The Long Halloween…
After many years of fans clamouring for its adaptation, Batman: The Long Halloween Part One has been released on Blu-ray and digital as the next in DC and Warner Bros.’ animated film line. Based on the maxi-series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, the story follows Batman in his earliest years of crime fighting as he, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent investigate a serial killer named Holiday who is targeting members of the Falcone crime family on one holiday each month. While they are trying to solve the case and bring down the Falcone mob, they also have to contend with the rise of Gotham City’s supervillains.
To celebrate the release of the first part to this highly anticipated film, we sat down with Julie Nathanson, who voices Gilda Dent, the wife of Gotham’s District Attorney Harvey Dent, in Batman: The Long Halloween Part One and Part Two. We spoke about The Long Halloween’s legacy, Gilda’s perspective as an outsider and more. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: Batman: The Long Halloween is a story many Batman fans have been asking for for several years now. Was it intimidating for you to come into a project with such a huge fanbase? Did you know about it at all?
Julie Nathanson: I did know about the fanbase and I was excited more than intimidated, I think. I really get so enthralled and still so excited every single time I get to do a project like this with great meaning to fans. This one in particular has a very special place in the heart of DC Comics and Batman fans and I know why. I can tell why. I think for me, I’m the kind of person who does as much research as I possibly can before I dive into a project, but I did something a little different for this one which is that I did not allow myself to read The Long Halloween until we had finished principal recording. If it had been about backstory for this character, something I needed to know before I came in, I would’ve eaten my research, but because this was a script based on that source material I wanted to, for myself, let Gilda live in this script and in this animated film, or two films, first before I allowed myself to see the way she had been depicted on paper along with the entire arc of the story.
I think that actually helped me keep her very real to me. Having read afterwards, I think that also was like a second wave of it hitting me like, oh yeah, this is a big deal. Like, I really see people love this and I totally get why! I got it from recording, but holding the paper in my hands, like I’m flipping through it right now! I don’t know if you can hear it, I tried to do it near the microphone so you could hear it, but I’m looking at it right now! It’s just a spectacular story. It’s spectacularly told and written and depicted and being a part of and playing such a wonderful, beautiful role in the animated version of this story is nothing short of an honour.
Awesome! Now, as you mentioned, you play Gilda Dent, Harvey Dent’s wife. How did you approach her role and relationship with Harvey, especially coming into it not knowing anything about the story until after you did the movie and read the book?
Well, I certainly had read the entire script so I had an awareness of the trajectory of the story and as much as we learn about Gilda and about their relationship, her relationship with Harvey throughout the story in the book, we lead you to learn about her and their story and her internal life in the film. So I certainly had those pieces already put together. With regard to Harvey and his history and Batman and his history, that’s where I did do my usual research and also sourcing my own memory from having seen movies and books read through the years. And also one of my first animated series was a spin-off of Batman Beyond, it was The Zeta Project, so I’ve been a little part of the Batman world before. So I certainly carried those things with me in filling in the blanks and understanding the people around me, the character I was playing with and those affecting the storyline that I was in or adjacent to.
Cool. You kind of just alluded to it, but Gilda is one of the few characters who is not directly involved with the law enforcement or superheroics of Gotham City. How does her outsider perspective influence her?
Well, that’s interesting. Great question. By calling her an outsider, there’s something, that word is like sparkling to me right now, its like electric, because in many ways she’s an outsider and in many ways she’s so internal, everything is inside her. I think there is some outsider experience for her. Especially since one of the things she’s wanting and craving is a connection with her husband. That’s pretty clear in her own duality, that guardedness. She seems to have emotional guardedness and perhaps a psychological guardedness against some of the pain that it’s pretty clear she’s feeling and her interest in connecting with her husband. Those are things that I think many of us can relate to having been in our own relationships. Wanting to connect, perhaps sometimes feeling guarded, feeling someone else’s guardedness and wanting to find a way in. Those are things that I certainly can call upon my own experience as a human who has had friendships and family and love in my life. To me that makes her very human. So, yes, she’s not heightened in the way that many of the other characters are heightened and perhaps that’s one of the things I found so special and precious about playing her is that she is very real to me.
Very, very interesting! One of the appeals of The Long Halloween for Batman fans is that it’s as much a Harvey Dent/Two-Face story as it is a Batman one. What did you think of the opportunity to explore more of Harvey’s history, especially with his relationship with Gilda?
I mean, it was tremendous. Being able to understand the inner life of Gilda and even the inner life of Harvey before his story unfolds into stories and stories and stories beyond The Long Halloween was very rich to me, very deep. I am a person who’s curious about our inner lives and our backstories and the meaning we make of things that have happened in our past and how those meanings inform how we see the world and perceive our present and future. Being able to be a part of this story and understand where Harvey goes after this was pretty impacting and frankly quite emotional. There were several times during the recording of the principled audio and also in the ADR process I was very emotional and had tears. Definitely the depth of what’s happening with Gilda and with awareness of where the story takes Harvey.
You have a lot of experience as a voice actress. You mentioned one of your first roles was in The Zeta Project which is nearly 20 years old and you’ve done a lot of other voiceover roles. What’s your process for creating a character’s voice and personality?
Basically I liked to study either the text itself, character description, whatever’s on the page, if there’s source material. Like I said, usually I would have read the graphic novel first, but for this particular experience I chose to hold forth until we were finished recording and concentrated more on the script itself for the storytelling. As soon as I feel like I understand who this character is, where she’s coming from, then I work to empathize with her. Once I’ve tapped into what I can relate to, I have a better sense of connecting with her. So yes, let’s say I play a ferocious creature, right? I am not sure if you’re aware of this, but I am not a ferocious creature in my real life, but have I felt fiercely protective of someone? Have I wanted something very badly and felt that in my body? Yes. Once I tap into this place of empathy, then I find a voice as a natural offshoot. It’s almost like the knowledge and empathy, the connection with the character, informs the voice. And then from there, yes, I tweak it sometimes in one direction or another, but it’s always born up in core place of a connection with the character.
Thank you very much to Julie Nathanson for chatting with us!
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is available on Blu-ray and digital now. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two will be released on July 27th, 2021.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.