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[This story contains spoilers for The Batman.]
When John Turturro was a boy in New York City, his father told him never to look Mafia associates in the eye if they spoke to him, because their skill was to seduce would-be prey. Decades later, he would use that advice to help craft his Gotham City mob boss Carmine Falcone in The Batman.
A fan of comics since his youth, the actor was well versed in superhero stories. He found Batman especially interesting because, as Turturro puts it, “He was a superhero but without powers — just gadgets.”
And now Turturro is a part of that lore in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which after receiving critical praise (the film holds an 85 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) opened to an enormous $134 million domestically over the weekend. The actor, who’s “been around the block enough times to not expect too much,” could not be more delighted.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the film’s big opening, Turturro pulls back the curtain on his character, sharing new insight into his development process with Reeves, whom he notes is among the most collaborative directors he’s worked with during his long, illustrious career.
A twist in the film occurs when Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) discovers his late father requested help from the Mafia, which led to the murder of a journalist. Falcone killed the reporter when the elder Wayne merely requested he be scared out of running a story. It is suggested by Alfred (Andy Serkis) that Falcone had the Waynes killed when Thomas threatened to tell police about the murder. Falcone points the finger elsewhere for the murders when talking to Bruce. Turturro has his own opinion on who is lying.
“I think there are people who tell you ‘I didn’t do something’ even if they did do it. And then after time, they believe the alternative version that they created,” Turturro says, adding that it’s more important what the viewer surmises. “I thought he is a dangerous guy, and I think not seeing [the Waynes’ murder] was kind of great.”
The Mafia boss created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in 1987 may not be the first villain to come to mind at the mention of Batman’s classic adversaries, yet Falcone is among the most dangerous due to his power and influence. His vast reach is explored to a great degree in The Batman, which made Turturro seize on the story — but the actor had ideas of his own to fully realize his version of Falcone.
“I thought, ‘I need a mask.’ And then I went to the lady where I buy all my vintage glasses and I found these glasses [worn in the film], and Matt loved them,” Turturro explains. “Because a lot of those guys did wear dark glasses when they testified.”
His oldest child, an editor at DC Comics, also helped Turturro explore the character’s possibilities, he proudly notes. “Amedeo pointed me in a lot of great directions, and we discussed it at length.” It was also Turturro’s suggestion to touch Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) on the cheek when Falcone first appears onscreen to better distort the initial view of their exact relationship. “I really liked that, and Matt allowed you to do things like that,” the actor adds.
And much like the rest of the cast, Turturro was floored by Colin Farrell’s transformation into Falcone’s chief lieutenant, Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. “I had no idea it was him,” he admits, laughing. “I just thought he was some rough-looking guy. I was just staring at him. It was pretty incredible.”
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