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Paul Dano Read Up on Serial Killers in Preparation for the Riddler Role in ‘Batman'

Edduin Carvajal
Apr 19, 2022
05:10 P.M.
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People have been praising Paul Dano's performance of The Riddler in "The Batman," but he needed to do something unusual and unpleasant to embody such a complex character.


When Matt Reeve's "The Batman" was announced, some fans had their reservations. With so many film versions of the Dark Knight, it was hard to picture one where "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson could fit in as Bruce Wayne.

Fortunately, the movie exceeded everyone's expectations and became 2022's highest-grossing film. Much of its success is thanks to the villain, Paul Dano's Riddler/Edward Nygma.

Paul Dano on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on March 7, 2022. | Source: Getty Images


One month after its original release, "The Batman" had already made $750 million - $386 million at the international box office and $365 million in the US alone. 

Warner Brothers' President of Domestic Distribution Jeff Goldstein admitted Batman was an iconic character with enduring power, and he also congratulated everyone involved in reaching such an incredible milestone.

Paul Dano on February 28, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images


Dano was crucial in the film's accomplishments, and he took his job so seriously that he read as much as he could about serial killers.

When Dano learned that Reeves used the infamous Zodiac Killer as inspiration for the Riddler, he included him in his research. Dano explained

"[The Zodiac Killer] was a reference point Matt gave me, and I read quite a bit about serial killers in general, which wasn't light reading."


Dano revealed that he did most of the reading on serial killers at coffee shops because he didn't want his wife, "Ruby Sparks," actress Zoe Kazan, and daughter, Alma Bay, to get in touch with such somber topics. 

Eventually, Dano understood that the Zodiac Killer was only a reference, and his character's purpose and intentions were "much greater" and deeper. 

Dano got plenty of help from Reeves.

Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano on September 30, 2018, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images


The actor confessed that his version of the Riddler didn't come from most people's familiar ideas about the comic book character.

Instead, he and Reeves developed the Riddler after much research and investigation about who Edward Nygma was as a person and why he was part of the story. Dano kept asking what his character's nature and nurture elements were and what led him to commit crimes.

Paul Dano on June 05, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images


Paul Dano and Matt Reeves wanted the Riddler to be not only epic and worthy of being a Gotham villain but also someone "really grounded," personal, and emotional.

If all his research wasn't good enough to pull off a memorable performance, Dano got plenty of help from Reeves. The director let Dano do several takes and gave him room to explore his character on set.

The most crucial aspect of the Riddler was his costume, including his mask. Although Reeves had plenty of options available, he asked for everyone's opinion before making the final decision.


Paul Dano confessed that Matt Reeves had a clear vision of what he wanted for the film, but he also gave the cast and crew room to share their ideas and "full artistry" to the table.

It is essential to point out that Robert Pattinson's Batman exists alongside Ben Affleck's version. It is still unclear how, but a multiverse connection between the Bruce Waynes seems to be around the corner. We can't wait!