Nestor Carbonell appears to not only be on a roll, but is quite a versatile actor, appearing as a psychotic hitman in last year's 'Smoking Aces', the mysterious Richard on TV's 'Lost' and soon as Gotham City's Mayor in 'The Dark Knight.'
Like co-star Monique Curnen, he is a Latino with a prominent role in a major film and in the next segment of a series of interviews for 'The Dark Knight', Carbonell also discusses the joy of working with both Gary Oldman and the late Heath Ledger.
Of course he too is sworn to secrecy about the plot, but was able to share his thoughts on director Chistopher Nolan and how roles are expanding for Latin actors. Carbonell is not only familiar with superhero roles having portrayed a Batman-like character on the cult TV series 'The Tick', but is working on the Batman cartoon and shares rumors that Heath Ledger's performance in the film may be Oscar worthy.
LatinoReview: Can you describe whom you play in 'The Dark Knight'?
Carbonell: Sure, I play the Mayor of Gotham and The Dark Night.
LatinoReview: How was the process of you getting involved in this film and what was the attraction for you to come aboard?
Carbonell: The attraction was pretty obvious. If you get a chance to work with someone like Christopher Nolan who is a tremendous direction and also writer, then its just an amazing cast, it was a dream. I auditioned for it about a year ago February. I read for Christopher Nolan and the producer, Emma Thomas and I didn't hear for a couple of months. I was actually in Hawaii shooting 'Lost' and I got a call from my manager that they were interested in me for The Dark Night. I said 'Oh, great.' So we sent some tapes and a couple of days later I received the offer. It was an incredible moment.
LatinoReview: Were you a fan of the first film?
Carbonell: Yeah, of his first film, yeah. 'Batman Begins'? Yeah, I was a big fan. What I love about what he does with the genre is that he just goes deeper. He just scratches under the surface and it becomes more of a psychological thriller than just an action movie, even though there is plenty of action, they are really heavy films. They are really smart and emotional films. It's as much geared to adults as to adolescents.
LatinoReview: Were you already a fan of the genre itself, with all these comic book movies coming out?
Carbonell: Yeah, I am , I am a fan of the genre. The funny thing, the irony is that about 8 years ago I did a series called 'The Tick'. We only shot 9 episodes but it was based on the cartoon, but the live action version. I played a character named Batmanuel, so that was my connection to the Batman world. It was obviously a spoof on action heroes. I have always been a fan, especially of Batman. He was such an interesting superhero. It was a real dream to work on this film.
LatinoReview: Judging from the trailer you have scenes with Gary Oldman. How was it working with him?
Carbonell: He was amazing. I have admired him since 'Sid and Nancy', for so long, and he's a tremendous talent. What a genuine and kind individual too, just a good man. He's just a really, really kind, good man. He is very gracious as an actor and a person. It was incredible, a real treat to work with him. I also worked with Aaron Eckhart, who is again phenomenal. He is also very gracious and generous. It was a really wonderful environment to work in. Christopher Nolan has a very relaxed attitude. That is a great thing for actors to work in that kind of environment, because it allows you to relax, and also create without feeling tense. All around it was just an amazing experience.
LatinoReview: When the movie started filming it was based around the Joker, which is Heath Ledger's character. Did you have any scenes with him at all?
Carbonell: I am in a couple of scenes with Heath but I really didn't have much interaction with him in the film. There was one particular moment that comes to mind that I did take note. I announce to a group of police officers and there is a big cheer in the room. Heath Ledger is behind bars, and it's in the trailer actually, and it wasn't scripted. He improvised this where he started clapping along in a very mocking sardonic way. Immediately I knew 'Whoa, this guy's got this role right in his veins. He knows this guy really well.' That was one observation I had, but I didn't have much interaction with him. I wish I would have had more. From what I understand the work he does in this film is just outstanding and unbelievable. I haven't had a chance to see it but others have seen it. They said it was incredible.
LatinoReview: I know some folks who have seen the film and tell me that when you see Ledger playing the role he is The Joker.
Carbonell: Exactly, he has apparently fleshed out that character, in his own way obviously, but to the point where he left a major impression on so many people who have already seen it. In fact I just spoke with someone from Warner Brothers who told me that it's absolutely Oscar worthy. It's an unbelievable and breathtaking performance.
LatinoReview: Since you saw the first one, Chris Nolan's work, what is it that he brings to this one that he couldn't bring on the first one?
Carbonell: From what they said is that he goes even deeper. Like I said, I haven't had a chance to see it, but he scratches even deeper than he did with 'Batman Begins'. We saw the genesis of Batman and his personal beef. Here, without giving away any plot, Batman is really tested in this film. In his mind he is tested. He really digs deep there. We get into the darker side of Batman. Apparently also, in terms of action, it is action packed as well. Its amp'd up on so many levels. I can't wait to see it, I am going to see it in another week or so, when it's completely finished.
LatinoReview: How was it actually working with Chris Nolan then, taking his direction?
Carbonell: What is great is to me I always see what's on the page. If it's on the page, you got a really good shot of having a great project. If it's not on the page it's an up hill battle. So, when I read the material and saw what I had to do I was like 'Wow.' It's just very rich and very well written material. It's phenomenal, and adds to that environment that he creates, he is very relaxed. He's worked with basically the same crew for many years now on many movies since 'Memento'. It's a very well oiled machine that they have, with a shorthand in how they communicate, and they are very relaxed. If you can create a relaxed environment that is 70 percent of the battle right there, and particularly on a movie with this kind of budget. If you can create that kind of environment then you are really doing everyone a favor there, and he really does. His insight is great, he's a very bright man, and he's a very talented man. He knows exactly what he wants, very efficient. Many of the films he does, and not because for any other reason but he does exactly what he wants, he finishes early. I don't know if it ended up being on 'Batman' but on other films he's finished early because he's very efficient. He knows exactly what he wants and he gets it.
LatinoReview: Was it really tight security, in regards to reading the script, when you were trying to get the part?
Carbonell: I never read the script. I didn't get to read the script before I got the part. I simply got pages that I had to audition for, I went in, and the night before I got the material. I went in and read for him, Emma Thomas, and the casting director John Papsidera. When I actually got the job I wasn't given the script. I was only given all of my scenes with my name, and a number, with a letter across to protect anyone from copying it. I was about given a script. I had to ask at one point if I could read it, and I was given permission to read it on the set, so someone was checking on me every two minutes to make sure I didn't have a camera on me. No, they were protecting against anything and I completely understand, there is a lot of curiosity.
LatinoReview:: Did you have any scenes at all with Bale?
Carbonell: I didn't, I met Christian Bale on the plane, on the way there, but we didn't have any scenes together.
LatinoReview: Are you up for sequels?
Carbonell: I can't really say, because I think that would be giving away a plot point. I wish I could answer that but I can't say. It's interesting, working on the show 'Lost' and its funny doing interviews for that show and also for 'Dark Knight'. My hands are pretty tied tight. I wish I could say that if there is a sequel that I'm in it, but we shall see.
LatinoReview: What is your take on Latinos now having a big boom in Hollywood? You and Monique Curnen are the only Latin's in 'The Dark Knight'.
Carbonell: From what I recall we are the only Latinos in this particular film, but Monique [Curnen] is a really prominent part of the film. I'm lucky enough to play the Mayor of Gotham, which is a pretty cool thing. I think it's tremendous. It's a phenomenal thing and from when I started things have really changed a lot. We have seen a lot of changes. The roles that were there for Latinos in the early 90's when I came out here were few and far between. Usually they were pretty specific to gang life and that kind of thing. A lot of actors before me opened a lot of doors. We all owe them a lot of thanks. Raul Julia, Anthony Quinn, Hector Elizondo, Desi Arnaz, there are so many of them. Thanks to them and then also the next crop of actors. Jimmy Smitts, Andy Garcia, Antonio Banderas. Then the directors like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón , Alejandro González Iñárritu and so many of them. They have opened doors that now things are changing. After that the people are recognizing there is a market, an enormous Latin market, which they are recognizing there is money to be made there. It's a mixture of talent meets business. There you have it and it's a good thing. It allows there to be a greater presence, not just for the sake of employment, but also for the image of Latinos on the screen, big and small, in all kinds of roles. Not just the villain but also as a protagonist.
LatinoReview: What do you have coming up next after this?
Carbonell: I'm working on 'Lost' so I will be returning to that in August. I'm also current working, coincidently, on the Batman cartoon. This is called 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold'. It's the next Warner Brothers version of Batman, the cartoon