Several animated movies have been released by DC since the universe was seemingly reset in the conclusion of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Until now, they have all been original stories. Warner Bros. Animation, DC, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment present a classic DC story in the new universe, one that has affected comics and movie scripts ever since. Torn from the pages of the iconic mid-1990s DC story written by Jeph Loeb (Batman: Hush, Hulk: Gray) and Tim Sale (Batman: Dark Victory, Daredevil: Yellow), Batman: The Long Halloween is a cornerstone of Batman lore. Center of our tale features the triumvirate of justice – Batman/Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles), Police Captain James Gordon (Billy Burke), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) – as they combine forces to solve the mystery of the Holiday Killer.
Lending her expertise as Harvey's better half, Gilda Dent is voice acting veteran Julie Nathanson. Whether as Samantha Mathis in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series, Rio in Fortnite, Chill in the Skylanders, the voice of Belle for Disney, or hundred of other credits, you have heard her talents before. Recently, Julie sat down with Bleeding Cool's Jimmy Leszczynski to discuss Gilda, how hard it was to keep Batman: The Long Halloween a secret, and why she did not read the iconic story before she recorded her role.
Batman the Long Halloween is an Iconic and influential story in Batman lore and comics in general. Were you familiar with the story before working on it?
Julie Nathanson: I was somewhat familiar with the story and knew how beloved it was, but I had not read it. While I usually read every single thing I can get my hands on to help me inform how I want to approach a character, I did something different with this one. I chose not to read The Long Halloween until after we had finished recording the original, the principal recording for this project. I did that because this script, this animated movie, it is its own Long Halloween. So, it's not like I'd be reading earlier material to get a sense of history. I would be reading the source material that informed the source material that I had to work with. And I just had a gut feeling that It would be better for me to just let Gilda live, for me, in this script first. And that worked really well for my process, to be honest with you… By the time I read it, I was so pleased to feel that the Gilda that I had voiced was absolutely present in the story. There are nuances that Tim Sheridan (Batman: The Long Halloween, Masters of the Universe: Revelation) brought out in his script to allow this story to be part of a moving picture and part of an animated film. But that the core of the story really felt that it was alive, and it was certainly honored.
What can you say about the production?
I have been excited for this for over three years now. I joked when they finally announced the cast that I could let the cat out of the proverbial bag. I said, 'Batman: The Long Secret That I Had To Keep.' We've all been sitting on this. And poor Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, Smallville) is just so phenomenal as Batman. Can you imagine how he has just been 'I'm Batman. I can't tell you; I'm Batman. Seriously, I'm Batman.' And Josh Dumahel (Transformers, Las Vegas) who is just tremendous as Harvey Dent, Naya Rivera (Glee), who is just so wonderful as Catwoman. Just a really phenomenal interpretation of the character. And beautifully played, and so incredibly sad that she's not here and certainly wasn't able to see her own performance on the screen. But I have so much respect for her.
She has a small role in Part One but a pivotal role in the story. Can you describe your character, Gilda Dent?
JN: One thing I love about the character and how she is written in this film is there is so much going on with her, and it's not done in such a broad way that it distracts from her emotional stakes. So I heard her as a quiet character. I heard her as quietly, you know, feeling inside her own mind and her heart. And not necessarily saying everything that she was feeling and sometimes being distracted by that inner life. Matching so much of the duality of a another character, of course, in these stories. Specifically The Long Halloween. But Gilda is a woman who loves her husband very much and wants to connect with him and also is holding some distance, some guardedness. Because of the pain that she's carrying. For me, that was an opportunity to play something that was very deep and very real… You know, it can be two sides of the same coin. And I felt that imagery in portraying Gilda, and really the relationship between Gilda and Harvey. It feels like it exists in its, in their own little bubble, their own little quiet world.
Your characters are usually more energetic, over the top compared to this reserved performance. Gilda, What ideas did you bring to the booth? Did Wes Gleason help you find the voice at all?
JN: I think it was really a wonderful team effort. I have had the pleasure of working with Wes before. He is a wonderful director. For this, when I first read the lines and started to get to know Gilda, I felt she rested in a very different place and A very authentic place. Not an overstated place. You are right. And the fact that Wes and the team responded to that- it was odd. It was like it gave me permission to keep her quieter. Keep her internal. And to keep her less broad. So yes, I was guided to stay in that place, and Wes did a lovely job of holding that space, you know there are some real emotional moments, and there is no breaking from an emotional moment to, like, joke about something silly- staying in that moment and honoring it as we move to the next line. So yes. That was absolutely something that Wes helped to facilitate.
WB adaptations do not always follow the source material, so I am assuming some changes and differences; anything you want to say about Gilda will happen in Part 2?
JN: Probably not… we have been sitting on this project itself for three years, so the idea of divulging anything feels just as terrifying as it was to be holding this secret … I will say that I believe that the core of the story, the original Long Halloween, is intact. And what I mean by that is the things that I loved reading it after, of course, we recorded our film, they resonated. So without certainly getting into what happens in Part T2, I think the arc for Gilda fits beautifully with her character. And I really do feel honored and trusted to have been invited to portray her. She's really beautifully drawn and scripted.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, is currently available on Digital and Blu-ray.
The all-star cast includes Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, Smallville) as Batman/ Bruce Wayne, Naya Rivera (Glee) as Catwoman Selina Kyle⁷, Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Las Vegas) as Harvey Dent, Billy Burke (Twilight, Revolution, Zoo) as James Gordon, Titus Welliver (Bosch, Deadwood, The Town) as Carmine Falcone, David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad, Ant-Man, Dune, The Dark Knight) as Calendar Man, Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Batman: Arkham Knight) as Joker, Amy Landecker (Your Honor, Transparent) as Barbara Gordon, Julie Nathanson (Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) as Gilda Dent, Jack Quaid (The Boys, The Hunger Games) as Alberto, Fred Tatasciore (American Dad!, Family Guy) as Solomon Grundy, Jim Pirri (World of Warcraft franchise) as Sal Maroni, and Alastair Duncan (The Batman, Batman Unlimited franchise) as Alfred. Additional voices were provided by Frances Callier, Greg Chun, and Gary Leroi Gray.
Chris Palmer (Superman: Man of Tomorrow) directs Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One from a screenplay by Tim Sheridan (Reign of the Supermen, Superman: Man of Tomorrow). Produced by Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Supervising Producer Butch Lukic (Justice Society: World War II, Superman: Man of Tomorrow) and Executive Producers are Michael Uslan and Sam Register