Batman Fans Wait for Chance at Fame



The line of fans for a Batman casting call in Chelsea wrapped around a full city block. Photo: Carly MacLeod.

Even in a city where more than 200 movies are shot on location in a single year, a New York casting call for director Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film garnered an impressive crowd the other morning. By 9:30 on a recent Saturday, the line of hopefuls wrapped around an entire city block in Chelsea.

“I’ve got Batman sheets. And underwear,” said Coriy Perryan, an aspiring actor from Brooklyn. Perryan, who is in his mid-twenties, was one of thousands auditioning to be an extra.

Although the casting call identified the movie only as “Magnus Rex” in an effort to avert a mob scene, virtually everyone in line knew that this was a chance to get a role playing a cop in “The Dark Knight Rises,” scheduled for release next summer.

“We’ll be there rain, snow – you don’t even have to pay us! We’re enthusiastic,” laughed Elizabeth Sweeney, a 22-year-old who works at a restaurant on Long Island. In line with her sister Rachel, a 24-year-old nursing assistant, Elizabeth Sweeney said they both were huge Batman fans, and that “it would just be awesome” to be in a Christopher Nolan film.

Spokesmen for the film were tight-lipped about how many roles were being cast, when decisions were being made, and what the extras would earn. But the call published by Grant Wilfley Casting on its website asked for men and women ages 18 and up to “play law enforcement within a city besieged by crime and corruption.” The listing said that training in the military, law enforcement, martial arts, or weaponry were preferred, but not required.

Some aspiring extras had the experience, such as Robert Ulaj and Simon Curanaj, both black belts, and others did not, like their friend, Tory Hanna.

“I like Batman because he’s just a jacked guy – an average Joe, but with resources!” said Hanna, who lives in Manhattan. Hanna said he has no desire for fame, but Ulaj and Curanaj hope to get some Hollywood exposure: Ulaj hopes to break into the acting industry, and Curanaj, a screenwriter, wants to gain some backstage insight.

“I want to get some perspective on how it works,” Curanaj said, “because making a movie is completely different than what you end up seeing on the screen.”

However many hopefuls make it into the movie, they will join the ranks of the 100,000 people who make their living behind the scenes of New York City movies and television.

Nolan’s past two Batman films have grossed more than $1.3 billion, and any Internet search for “The Dark Knight Rises” results in pages of media speculation and rumored backstage gossip. Rumors of where “The Dark Knight Rises” will film in New York abound, but there is no confirmation of any location at this point.

Mary Beth Ihle, a representative from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, said that although the city does not release the location of films shooting in the city, popular sites for filming are Times Square, Central Park, and Wall Street. Movies that film at locations like these bring an estimated $5 billion annually, ranging from the $300 permit application fee to the thousands that movie makers may spend on food, flowers, and other commodities for films and their stars.

Nolan is authorized to film here in New York through the end of December, Ihle said. The hopeful extras were informed that they would be needed between Oct. 29 and Nov. 11, and are awaiting word from the casting agency.

“This movie will be the best,” Ulaj said. “It’s got more thought, and it will take from both [of Nolan’s past] movies. And it’s New York, the best city in the world! This is Gotham.”