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The Batman: The Zodiac Killer Inspired Paul Dano's Riddler

Paul Dano's "The Batman" Villain Was Inspired by This Real-Life Serial Killer

Paul Dano is revealing the inspiration for his terrifying role as the Riddler in 2022's "The Batman." In an interview with Seth Meyers on "Late Night," the actor said the major reference he used when crafting his performance as the movie's villain was the Zodiac Killer.

Meyers described Dano's take on the character as "very dark" and "terrifying," and Dano confirmed that it was "The Batman" director Matt Reeves's idea to use the Zodiac Killer as inspiration. "That's something that Matt Reeves — who's just wonderful and I loved working with him — cited in the beginning," Dano explained. "So when you get the phone call, the Riddler, Batman, it's like, 'Oh my God, that's so exciting,' and then when he says 'Zodiac Killer,' you go, 'OK.'" The actor said the vision was for a more "real-to-life reference" than the Riddler that's been portrayed before in comics and on screen, who usually dons a bright-green suit with question marks.

Dano said that because he's a parent, he tried to keep his serial-killer research to "the daytime at coffee shops." "I just didn't want those books, like, next to my bed," he said. Dano also said that while he was shooting the film, he was constantly reading Batman comics. "It was just a way to sort of keep it in my system," he explained, saying the experience turned him into a "Batman superfan."

Dano also admitted that it was a bit difficult transitioning from an intense day on set playing this dark Riddler to being home with his partner, actress Zoe Kazan, and their 3-year-old daughter. "It takes a while to come down," he said.

But while Dano is proud of the work he did in "The Batman" — which has already brought in $130 million at the box office — he said he's not exactly looking to remember the depths he had to dwell to get into his horrifying character. "I've been asked, 'What did you take from the set to remember this job by?'" he told Meyers. "And I'm like, 'Nothing. Nothing.'" Watch the clip above!

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