Cillian Murphy Created An 'Electric Atmosphere' When He Tried On The Batsuit For Batman Begins

The acting-directing team of Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan is generating intense heat once again with the upcoming biopic "Oppenheimer," a fact-based chronicle of scientist Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer's fateful path to developing the atomic bomb during World War II. Prior to "Oppenheimer," though, Murphy and Nolan teamed for the hit films "Dunkirk" and "Inception," building on a partnership that began with the filmmaker's DC superhero blockbuster "Batman Begins."

Of course, Murphy starred as the villainous Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow in "Batman Begins," while Christian Bale played the dual role of Batman and Bruce Wayne in the film and its sequels "The Dark Knight," and "The Dark Knight Rises." However, Murphy recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was thrilled to even get an audition to play the Caped Crusader, even though he knew from the get-go that Bale had him beat.

"It was clear to me from the beginning that I wasn't Batman material. It felt to me that it was correct and right that it should be Christian Bale for that part," Murphy confessed to EW. "But I remember the buzz of trying on the suit and being directed by [Nolan]. Those tests were high production values."

Even though the role of Batman wasn't in the cards for Murphy, Nolan told EW that there was no doubt that the actor had a certain energy about him when he wore the Batsuit.

Murphy's audition as Batman earned him the chance to play Scarecrow

Christopher Nolan told EW that while it was pretty much certain at the point of Cillian Murphy's Batman audition that Christian Bale would play the role in "Batman Begins," watching the actor in the role sparked Nolan's idea for another crucial role in the film. In fact, when Murphy put on the Batsuit, "There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when [he] started to perform," Nolan told EW.

"We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you doing on set," Nolan recalled for the publication, motioning to Murphy. "Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, 'Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?' There was no dissent."

While Oscar nominated actor Liam Neeson was cast as Ra's al Ghul — the other main villain in "Batman Begins" — allowing Nolan to choose Murphy to play Scarecrow was a groundbreaking move by the film's studio, Warner Bros. After all, throughout "Batman" movie history, the villains were traditionally played by high-profile actors. "All the previous Batman villains had been played by huge movie stars: Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, that kind of thing," Nolan told EW. "That was a big leap for them and it really was purely on the basis of that test."

"Oppenheimer" opens in theaters Friday, July 21, 2023.