Julie Nathanson is one of the most prolific voice artists in the industry lending her talents to high-profile projects such as the Far Cry and Final Fantasy video game franchises. And somehow in between her entertainment work, Nathanson has found the time not only to pursue her interests in psychology earning a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology but also raise a family. In Batman: The Long Halloween, she voices Gilda Dent, the long-suffering and neglected wife of Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent before his tragic transformation into the villainous Two-Face. It’s a role with psychological depth tailor-made for Nathanson.
Taimur Dar: While the average person on the street who isn’t into comics likely hasn’t read the original Long Halloween comic, I think nearly everybody has seen Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films which of course were influenced by Long Halloween. Before you became involved with this project were you a comic book reader or familiar with Long Halloween?
Julie Nathanson: I had seen the [Nolan] film. I have a smattering of comic books but I do not think it would be fair to categorize myself as a “comic book reader.” That being said, I certainly love comics and I have been lucky enough to play in this world of DC Comics. I certainly had familiarity with this universe.
I did not allow myself to purchase and read The Long Halloween until I had finished the principal recording. I did not want to be influenced because for me just creating Gilda as her own person with her own inner life was so important to me and I wanted to be as consistent as what was on the page as possible. Tim Sheridan did such a beautiful job writing this script and the entire team has really made something magnificent.
This cast has been sitting on this secret for three years. We all know we have something special here and we all know we were invited to a very special party. Butch’s ideas about how this world would be visually depicted and how Tim brought out the script from the source material, all of these things have felt so clearly special along the way.
Dar: That’s interesting to hear you say you read the comic only after recording. After seeing the film myself, I definitely felt that screenwriter Tim Sheridan and the filmmakers didn’t change Gilda per se but they brought out nuances that enhanced her character while remaining true to her spirit. In hindsight, is there anything you think would have changed your performance if you read Long Halloween first?
Nathanson: Yes but I don’t know specifically what would have changed. I’m going to sound like a hippy-dippy actor but to me, Gilda is now Gilda having inhabited her in these two films. There are certainly nuanced differences, however. I can’t speak for how it would have altered my performance but I really agree with you that Tim did a magnificent job of making subtle shifts especially in her character that let her be voiced so fully. It felt like a perfect transition so she could come alive on the screen and feel real. I’m always informed by the source material and it’s really unusual for me to choose to hold learning more. Especially because I knew the art would be different in some way, I really just wanted to work with what was in front of me. For the process I had as a performer, this is the world in which Gilda is living and there are not many depictions of her that I had found in comics. If it’s looking at her in The Long Halloween, I want her to live in The Long Halloween that we were creating. I was pleased to realize how perfectly it blended with the source material itself.
Dar: In addition to Gilda Dent, you also voice a small uncredited role as a young Babs Gordon pre-Batgirl. I was telling screenwriter Tim Sheridan that it’s my favorite scene in the film and he mentioned it was to illustrate the price of service for people in Gotham City like Gordon. I think anyone who grew up with a parent whose job interfered with their family life can relate. Working in the entertainment industry can definitely affect how present you are in a child’s life, so being a parent yourself did this scene have any resonance for you?
Nathanson: That is a phenomenally deep question and I am going to answer it honestly! Yes, it actually did have resonance for me. I have a son and he is eleven. I’m working all the time. I’m going to knock on wood because I love my work and I appreciate my work. But I am acutely aware of when to make sure I am spending time with this person that I love so deeply. I know there are responsibilities as a working parent to be able to continue to work as a support to my family.
That scene and that experience of a parent not being able to be present for something special are more in line with what I don’t want my son to feel and that I keep in mind as I hold perspective. My connection with him needs to come first so that I don’t have a scene in my life where he feels that I have chosen to be called to work over something that was deeply important to him. That one was right in my heart.
Batman: The Long Halloween is available tomorrow on Digital and on Blu-ray.