Imagine my surprise when I was watching this summer's most anticipated movie – director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises – and a familiar face appeared on-screen. Namely: New York-based actor Aldous Davidson, an acquaintance from my early days working and hanging out on NYU film sets. Since that time, Davidson has gone on to appear on Law & Order, Blue Bloods, MTV2's Guy Code and in numerous other shorts and films.
In The Dark Knight Rises, he has a principal acting role as a Wayne Enterprises valet. He nabs a good bit of screen time, which he shares with Christian Bale and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – so I was obviously crazy curious to know what his experience was like on set. Turns out, he has some pretty funny Nolan anecdotes and stories about preparing for filming and working with well-known actors. Check out Davidson's account of his day on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, and look for him in his scene when you catch it on the big screen – you can't miss him!
Movies.com: I was completely shocked to see your face on an IMAX screen. Incredible! How'd you happen upon the part?
Aldous Davidson: I auditioned for it – they cast it out of L.A., but they were casting for New York. They did a casting call and my agent submitted me and then they put me on tape for it, and I got cast straight off of the tape.
Movies.com: Did you read the scene that you were eventually featured in?
AD: Well, first of all, when I read it wasn't for The Dark Knight Rises. There was a fake name. So I thought I was auditioning for some sort of independent film. And the scene they had me read was a different scene. I'm not sure if the scene I read for is actually in the movie, I haven't seen it yet.
Movies.com: When did you find out you'd actually auditioned for a Nolan movie?
AD: I heard back probably three weeks later – I'd forgotten about it. And they were like, "So this is for The Dark Knight Rises" and I was like, "Uh, really?" [laughs] I thought at first it was one of those spoof movies! I was just like, "No way!"
Movies.com: So when did you realize it was for real?
AD: My agent said, "The paperwork looks legit!" And then I went in for a costume fitting and by then they were in New York. And then I was like, "OK - it's totally legit" – because their offices took over an entire building and the costumes took over an entire floor. There were hundreds of Army outfits.
Movies.com: Did you get the script before you were on set?
AD: They weren't allowed to e-mail me my scene – they delivered it via mail. And I wasn't privy to the script, I was privy to the one-eighth of a page that my scene entailed. And also the call sheets and stuff – the call sheet was pretty cool.
Movies.com: So you worked with Christian Bale in your scene – what was it like on set?
AD: It was Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We shot in front of Trump Tower, so they were doubling Trump Tower for Wayne Enterprises. It was really cold, and I showed up at six or seven a.m. Then they take me to the makeup truck…and literally they sit me down in between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Christian Bale.
Movies.com: That's amazing. Did you guys talk at all or was it just this super awkward scene with three dudes chillin' while concealer is applied?
AD: For me it was just 100% surreal. Christian Bale is this sort of larger-than-life figure. And they had all these Bruce Wayne wigs sitting around. So the only thing I'm thinking at this point is, "Don't piss off Christian Bale! Because I don't want to mess this up!” Everyone had their own makeup and hair person, and they were all chatting. I just tried to blend in.
Movies.com: What was the mood like in there?
AD: Everyone was in a good mood. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was joking about having just shaved his face. Bale was definitely speaking with an American accent, so he was, I guess, in character. It was just another day at work for those guys.
Movies.com: Did you end up talking with either of them?
AD: Once it became obvious that I was interacting with everyone in the scene, Joseph Gordon-Levitt came up and introduced himself. He just said, "Hey, I don't think we've met, I'm Joe." Eventually we went inside and sat down and I briefly asked him about his movie where he plays a bike messenger [Premium Rush], asking if he did his own stunts. He's a cool guy.
Movies.com: What was it like on set?
AD: They had hundreds of extras there, because in the scene there's a lot of people yelling and screaming. Christopher Nolan shows up and he chats with Bale, Gordon-Levitt and the DP. Eventually Nolan asks me, "Do you know your lines?" And I said, "Yeah" and repeated them. And he said, "Alright, don't worry about your lines, just get the point across."
Movies.com: That's amazing. Is he pretty good-humored on set?
AD: This is kind of funny. It was so cold out, they gave me a really heavy coat to stay warm. But then Nolan comes up to me and he's like, "Are you from New York?" And I'm like, "Yeah I've lived here for a number of years." And he says, "So you're used to the cold, right?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And he's like, "Don't be a wuss! Take that jacket off! Look at everybody else – no one else has a warm coat on!" I was like, "Yes sir, whatever you say, sir!" And he walked away, and I was freezing! He was being lighthearted about it, but a lot of the crew said you just can't be wussy on the set.
Movies.com: This was back in late October and early November of last year. How long were you on set?
AD: Just one day. It was like a half a day shoot. I was out by about three p.m. They did multiple takes for each setup…they did a whole setup for non-IMAX and then they did a whole setup for IMAX.
Movies.com: I know you haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm curious to know how much you shot versus what showed up in the final version.
AD: Originally what happens is Bale comes up to me and he taps me on the shoulder and he doesn't say a word. He looks at me like, what's up with my car? And I turn around and say, "I'm so sorry, sir – they had papers! I tried to stop them, but they're towing your Lamborghini!" And then Gordon-Levitt is like, "Looks like you need a ride." And they go off in his police car. But then they switched it and instead of him coming up to me, Nolan's like, "Actually, you go up to him." So after that, I see him coming out and I rush over to him.
Movies.com: Hey, then all your lines made it in! We're Facebook friends, so how is it that I had no idea you'd be in this thing? I would've been preaching it to the world!
AD: When you contacted me Tuesday, I was psyched. You were the first person I know who'd seen the movie. Because from an editing standpoint, I was thinking they could just have Bale exit the building, and then they cut to the car getting towed away, and then they cut to Gordon-Levitt. So I was thinking it was totally possible to edit me out of the scene. But then I heard the movie was like two hours and 45 minutes long, and I was like, "Alright – that bodes well for me!" But I didn't want to say much because I wanted to be mentally prepared either way. So when you got in touch I was like, "YES!"
Movies.com: Do you have a ticket to see the movie or were you waiting to find out if you were in it?
AD: Oh, I have a ticket. I'm seeing it Friday and then I'm seeing it again on Wednesday in IMAX. Now I'm really excited!
Movies.com: Where do you go from here? You were in a Nolan film, man!
AD: I know, right? [Laughs] I can just call it a day! Speaking of calling it a day, when I was leaving set, Christopher Nolan was chatting with the DP and I was like, "Thanks Chris!" And he was like, "Good job today, Aldous!" And I was so happy, until I realized I'd just called Christopher Nolan "Chris." And I was like, "Ah, I hope that's okay." [Laughs] But he was totally cool, he really was.