Robert Downey Jr.’s Bold Pitch: Playing Scarecrow in ‘Batman Begins’

  • Downey Jr. reminisces about meeting Nolan for the role of Scarecrow
  • Cillian Murphy ultimately cast as Scarecrow in Batman Begins
  • Nolan explains why he chose Murphy over Downey Jr.


In a recent Q&A session, Robert Downey Jr. shared his memories of meeting with Christopher Nolan to discuss playing the role of Scarecrow in the 2005 film Batman Begins. The actor revealed that he was confident he would secure the part, but ultimately, it went to his Oppenheimer co-star Cillian Murphy. Downey Jr.’s recollection of the meeting provides a fascinating insight into the casting process and sheds light on why Nolan ultimately chose Murphy for the role.

Downey Jr. pitches himself as Scarecrow

During the Q&A, Downey Jr. expressed his initial enthusiasm for the role, stating, “I’m pretty sure that I heard like, ‘There’s this role, Scarecrow,’ and I was like, ‘psh, I’m Scarecrow.'” The actor recalled meeting Nolan for tea, but sensed that the director wasn’t fully invested in the interview. Despite being polite, Downey Jr. could tell that the role wouldn’t be going his way.

Nolan’s decision to cast Murphy

In an interview with EW, Nolan explained his reasoning behind choosing Murphy for the role of Scarecrow. The director had been aware of Murphy’s talent after seeing him in the film 28 Days Later. However, during the screen test for Batman Begins, Murphy admitted he didn’t feel like “Batman material.” Nevertheless, Nolan was impressed by Murphy’s performance and decided to cast him as Scarecrow instead.

Nolan also highlighted the significance of casting a relatively unknown actor as a Batman villain, as opposed to a big-name star. He mentioned that previous Batman villains had been played by established actors like Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jim Carrey. Choosing Murphy was a departure from that tradition and was primarily based on his exceptional screen test.


Robert Downey Jr.’s recollection of his meeting with Christopher Nolan sheds light on the casting process for Batman Begins and provides insight into why Cillian Murphy was chosen over him for the role of Scarecrow. Despite Downey Jr.’s initial confidence, Nolan’s decision to cast Murphy was based on the actor’s impressive screen test and the desire to break away from casting established stars as Batman villains. This anecdote offers a fascinating glimpse into the behind-the-scenes decisions that shape the creation of iconic films. Share your thoughts on this casting choice and how it impacted the Batman franchise.

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