A Moon Topples Exclusive
Actor Tony Danza will return to the big screen next year in the latest Batman update from director Christopher Nolan.
Danza, primarily known to audiences for his role as boxer-turned-cabbie Tony on the television series "Taxi" and his subsequent role as boxer-turned-housekeeper Tony on "Who's the Boss," will reportedly play a character named Tony, a former boxer who is orphaned in his mid-50s when his elderly parents (Abe Vigoda, Betty White) die of natural causes a few months apart. His story catches the attention of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), who subsequently takes Tony under his wing.
"I do worry some about [the tone]," Nolan said at a press conference Friday. "The last one turned out a lot darker than I had intended, and I wanted to find a way to introduce some lighter elements while still propelling the story forward. Tony gives me a perfect way to do that. This will be a film my children can watch."
The new character is expected to fit into the main storyline in a sidekick capacity, as well as in a subplot featuring Wayne's valet Alfred (Michael Caine). In the latter, Alfred is resentful of the new living arrangement and begins acting out. His bickering with Tony escalates, and the two draw a line down the middle of stately Wayne Manor to divide the mansion in two, one half for Alfred and one half for Tony. Both sides soon realize that the situation is less than ideal: Alfred has access to the Batcave, but Tony has the kitchen. The two eventually learn to work together, and even become friends. Nolan has admitted that some elements of this plot owe a debt to Neil Simon's The Odd Couple and 1970s American television.
"This is about storytelling," Nolan said. "Batman is an American icon. So is Tony Danza. The pairing of the two really allows me to add elements of American situation comedies to the film, which was my intention from the start."
For his part of the main storyline, Danza will play a costumed sidekick, also named Tony. In spite of his past as a boxer, it is rumored that the character is more reliant on clever quips than his fists. If true, the film would feature the first non-Robin sidekick relationship in a Batman film since 1993's pairing with Dustin Hoffman in Batman/Rainman, in which the duo team up to stop Clayface, who has kidnapped the autistic savant's brother. While critically acclaimed, the film failed to break even and allegedly led to Michael Keaton's departure as Batman.
"Christian brings a certain amount of anger, especially when he's in the suit. He can be a little terrifying. Tony can comment on these things, on behalf of the audience. He can say 'look, relax, this is just one of the henchmen. There's no need to be so angry all the time.' His influence on Bruce Wayne can help to stabilize the character."
While former Batman director Tim Burton was unavailable for comment, another former director of the franchise, Joel Schumacher, applauded the move.
Monday, September 10, 2007
A Moon Topples Exclusive