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The Two Faces of ‘Dark Knight’ Co-Star Aaron Eckhart

July 17, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. _ Batman fans know why the noble character of District Attorney Harvey Dent transforms into the villain Two-Face. It is as obvious as his (half) nose.

Hardly a secret _ but that doesn’t stop Aaron Eckhart from acting like the politician he plays in “The Dark Knight.” During an interview in June to promote the latest Batman movie, Eckhart sidesteps all questions about the makeup or special effects needed to play the villain.

Dent starts out as a crusader for justice as Gotham City’s new district attorney. A series of events turn him into an advocate of injustice whose flip of a coin can mean the difference between life and death.

“I don’t want to talk about it because I think it is such a great thing for the audience to come there with no preconceived ideas,” Eckhart says of the makeup process.

Eckhart prefers to talk about playing Dent/Two-Face. He was drawn to the project because of all of the dynamics between characters in the movie. There is the love triangle between Dent, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). There’s also the right-vs.-might issue of the battle between Dent and criminal elements, especially The Joker (Heath Ledger).

Finally, and probably the most demanding for the actor, is the inner conflict between the shining-knight side of Dent and the untamed dark side of Two-Face.

“The thing that struck me about this movie were the contemporary issues. The mirror of our times. It is a heavy movie in a lot of ways,” Eckhart says.

The 40-year-old actor Eckhart performed in both serious and comedic films. For every “message” movie such as “Thank You for Smoking” he has appeared in lighter projects such as “No Reservations.”

Nothing Eckhart did previously has gotten the pre-opening attention of “The Dark Knight.” And a lot of that attention has come from the January death of Ledger.

Eckhart says he treasures the time he had working with the late actor.

“To be in the makeup trailer while he was discovering his face and me discovering mine was fun,” Eckhart says. “Once he started doing his thing, I was an actor in the scene, but I was also a fan. I was looking at him and going ‘Wow dude, that is pretty good stuff.’”

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(c) 2008, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

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