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How Paul Dano Got In Character To Play The Riddler

Paul Dano is far from an inexperienced actor, having graced the silver screen numerous times over the past few decades. From "There Will Be Blood" to "the Fabelmans," he has consistently offered moviegoers standout performances, making him one of the most reliably good actors in the game today. Thus, it should come as no surprise that when he finally tried his hand at the superhero genre, he knocked it out of the park. His take on the Ridder in director Matt Reeves' "The Batman" was, unsurprisingly, a highlight of the feature.

In the 2022 Robert Pattinson-led film, Dano's Riddler — real name Edward Nashton — is a complicated, deeply traumatized man. Having grown up without parents and a proper home, he clung to riddles and puzzles to keep his mind occupied. However, deep down, he allowed a hatred for Gotham City's wealthy and corrupt to fester inside of him, resulting in his eventual crusade to reveal the city's top officials for who they really are. While he's successful to some extent, the Batman and the Gotham City Police Department inevitably ensure his arrest.

To portray such a complex character, Paul Dano took a fascinating approach to his Riddler preparation. Here's how he got into character to play the main villain of "The Batman."

Dano delved into the Riddler's tragic past to piece together his performance

There were many ways for Paul Dano to get into the Riddler character, from reading famous comics featuring the tenured Batman rogue to checking out performances by previous Riddler actors. While he may have done either or both of these things, as he revealed to Brian Tyree Henry for Variety's Actors on Actors segment, he primarily delved into Edward Nashton's psyche to put together the strongest performance possible. "This kid, Edward Nashton, had nothing. And I always thought the only positive feedback that this person has ever received in their life is when a puzzle or a riddle said 'you win,' or that you got it," he explained.

Dano continues to recall his conversations with director Matt Reeves about the character and the parallels between him and Batman. Both come from unfortunate circumstances without parents, but they each took their trauma in vastly different directions. Although, they do both profess to fight for good and want to help the common people. The difference, as Dano points out, is in their methodology. "He's not wrong about these powerful people being corrupt and what that does for society. He's definitely handling it in like a really wrong way," Dano said, noting that this was one of the most interesting parts of the role to explore.

Even if you prefer a more kooky, quippy Riddler in your Batman-centric movies, there's no denying just how good Paul Dano was in the role for "The Batman." One can only hope his somewhat divisive take on Edward Nashton continues to appear in Matt Reeves' rapidly expanding "Batman" universe.