There have been countless film and television productions delayed, canceled or generally deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic over the past year and a half, but perhaps none as high profile as The Batman, the Matt Reeves-directed reboot for Warner Bros. and DC Comics starring Robert Pattinson as our newest Bruce Wayne.
Production on the highly anticipated superhero tentpole began in London in January, 2020, but was halted by March when the COVID-19 lockdowns spread around the globe. Shortly after filming was suspended indefinitely, Andrew Jack, the project’s dialect coach, died from COVID. Production finally resumed again in early September, only to be paused again when Pattinson tested positive for COVID. Filming finally wrapped in March of this year.
In a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, costar Jeffrey Wright detailed how challenging that 14-month span proved under rigidly tight protocols and extremely limited contact with anyone outside the cast and crew while on set.
“On one hand it was really satisfying that we were able to plow through in really seriously difficult circumstances, but we were all able to do that because we all focused on what we had to do and we all respected one another,” says Wright, 55, who plays Gotham police chief James Gordon in The Batman and will next be heard as the voice of the Watcher in rival Marvel’s What If? Disney+ animated series.
Wright says the cast and crew were given daily COVID tests and wore N95 masks throughout when not on camera. “Doing all of the things that were required to protect ourselves and protect one another from this virus,” as he puts it.
But ultimately, “It was not easy,” Wright says. “I don’t like to complain about making movies, but that s**t wasn’t easy.”
The veteran Westworld actor says the loneliness he faced over such a long timespan was one of the most difficult aspects. Aside from a six-week visit from his daughter in September, “I was there isolated from family and friends in a hotel room by myself. By the third quarantine going over there it was like, ‘Good lord, is this ever going to end?’
“London was on lockdown, nothing was open in the hotel. It was a 200-room hotel, there were four or five us there. I saw no one. I saw an occasional tray outside of a door and I assume there was a human on the other side but besides that there was no signs. It got to my head a little bit, I’ve got to say. It took a little bit of time to recover, mentally, from that, from the isolation.”
Wright sees his experience with The Batman cast and crew as a microcosm of the unity needed right now as COVID cases continue to surge across the U.S. with the more transmissible Delta variant escalating infection, hospitalization and death rates and a large segment of the population still unvaccinated.
“I think a lot of people have been dealing with that isolation, and realizing that we are social creatures. And I hope realizing that we need to come together as we did on that movie set and work toward the common purpose of defeating this pandemic and realize that it’s us against the pathogen. And that’s it.
“That was the really gratifying part, the way that we unified and I just hope we can see more of that, at least in our country as we still continue to battle with this thing. Although I have to say my optimism in waning, owing to the behavior of too many people in our country.”
Wright’s optimism about the film he spent 14 months working on, at least, remains high.
“We stuck together, cast, crew, everyone,” he says. “And I think in the end we made a brilliant movie.”
The Batman, which also stars Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell and Andy Serkis, is scheduled for release on March 4, 2022.