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Gotham's Mayor On The Dark Knight Rises
Nestor Carbonell on returning to politics

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He has apparently weathered the storm that must have followed The Dark Knight, because Nestor Carbonell is back for The Dark Knight Rises as Gotham's Mayor Anthony Garcia. So is this, like Harvey Dent, a politician we can trust to clean up this town? Or will he be butting heads with Batman? We try to squeeze a few bits of information from Carbonell below...

Gotham's Mayor On The Dark Knight Rises

How did you manage to get reelected after the Joker messed up the town like that?
Well listen, it was not an easy re-election. I campaigned hard, had some good financing, my peeps showed up, and raised some good money and here we are. [laughs]

Is it good to be back for another Batman movie?
Obviously it was thrilling to get re-elected. It was great to get back to the set with Chris [Nolan], and Wally [Pfister], the whole gang. And it's an enormous project. I'm used to working on much smaller budget things. It's pretty imposing, but when you have someone with the temperament of Chris Nolan, who comes from the independent world with Memento and has essentially used the same crew for every one of his projects, it's pretty comforting for everyone involved to come in and see the tone of the set. Which is like shooting an independent with, you know, how many hundreds of millions of dollars. So it's a great vibe.

What does Gotham's mayor now think of Batman, given he took the rap for all those deaths?
He does not appreciate someone like a Batman, or The Batman as he calls him, coming in here and solving problems.
Obviously there's a lot of secrecy surrounding the script with good reason, but I've been used to working this way now for a number of years, not only with Dark Knight but also with Lost. I think that the Mayor definitely feels that he's not for a vigilante coming in here and, you know, solving crime in this way. It's just not the way he envisions things, and I think there's an ego element obviously to him. This is a man who wants to restore law and order, a man who definitely believes that the... I don't know how much I can reveal... Okay, I will say one thing: this is a man who is very much for putting out legislation where he has the freedom to really go after criminals, to really pursue them in a hard way. I'm not saying that he's going to violate civil liberties, but this is a man who is very tough on crime, and takes it upon himself to take on criminals headfirst. And no, he does not appreciate someone like a Batman, or The Batman as he calls him, coming in here and solving problems.

One of the things we got to learn about the mayor in the last movie is that it seems he's above all the corruption. Is that still true?
Yeah, I think he is above that. I think this is a man... I mean, look. Politics is always give and take, but I think with a man like this, from his point-of-view he's absolutely against corruption. And if he's done anything within his tenure here as mayor, it's to fight the Mob head-on. Now you have these lunatics running around doing their own thing, they're essentially terrorists, and that's a different thing altogether. But in terms of handling organized crime, this is a man who's dead-set against it existing, and he makes it part of his campaign.

Is Mayor Garcia based on any real political figures?
I didn't base [my performance] on any one person, but I wanted him to be his own person. He can't be a complete do-gooder. I think it's pretty hard to find that in any politician. You have to make deals in some groups, and concessions. But I wanted him to definitely have an edge, and obviously I worked with Chris on what his idea of the mayor would be like. I remember in The Dark Knight I came in with him a little bit softer, and [Nolan] wanted me to play him a little bit harder, and now I see why. It's always interesting for me to find something human about the character, and not make him sort of a standard, stock politician. Maybe someone with a slight sense of humor. I definitely had some fun in London, with what I did. [laughs] That's about as cryptic as I can get.

But I think it's always interesting for a dramatic role to find humour in it, and vice versa, in comedy to try and ground it. And this is what I love about The Dark Knight, and just about everything Chris Nolan has done, is that he takes on the psychological thriller genre and he grounds it. This is a cartoon, a comic book, but it feels like this is as real as it can get. And obviously, all of the villains are portrayed so amazingly, with Heath Ledger and now with Tom Hardy. Every role, you look at Gary Oldman, and what he does with his character, and obviously Christian Bale. Everyone is really grounded, and it allows you to suspend disbelief that much more.

Gotham's Mayor On The Dark Knight Rises
Nestor Carbonell with Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight

How does this movie compare with The Dark Knight?
The stakes have been raised. I mean, as big as Dark Knight was, this is monumental. This is a monster, what Chris Nolan is doing. He's just upped the stakes even more, and who knew they could be upped any more than they were already?

You've worked with two of the most secretive teams in the business: the Nolans and JJ Abrams' Bad Robot. As a filmgoer, do you appreciate that maybe you'll go see it and there'll be stuff that you didn't necessarily know would happen?
I love it! It was interesting for me; I'd never worked this way before, before Lost or Dark Knight, where I'm on a need-to-know basis. I remember, working on Lost, I learned very quickly the way that I had to approach the material, or even ask the director questions, it was always prefaced with, "Would it be wrong for me to assume?" Because I didn't know where my character on Lost was going. It got to the point on Dark Knight, though, where I did request to read the script because I just didn't know what I was saying at some points. So I was given a room to read it in, and a couple of hours. It certainly informs your choices, but I completely appreciate the secrecy, and a lot of these projects that Bad Robot and obviously Chris Nolan does a lot of it is about thrill elements, and mystery elements, and you don't want to let that out.

Interview by Dan Jolin

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