It’s not yet known if any incarnation of Robin will appear in next summer’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But we have been treated to The Boy Wonder on the big screen before.
In the 40’s, Douglas Croft and Johnny Duncan dawned masks and tunics in Batman (1943) and Batman and Robin (1949) respectively. And who could forget the “holy” pun-liners of Burt Ward. He and Adam West were so popular in their campy television show, that Fox tried to capitalize on that success to bring Batman (1966) to the big screen again.
The world wouldn’t see Robin in theaters again until 1995 in the Joel Schumacher film Batman Forever. This time, Robin was played by an actor named Chris O’Donnell. O’Donnell got his start acting in commercials. Then he was cast in Men Don’t Leave (1990) with Jessica Lange. He would go on to play in movies like Scent of a Woman (1992) and Circle of Friends (1995).
But the role of acrobat turned sidekick Dick Grayson was a coveted role for any young actor in the 90’s. The Dark Knight patrolled Gotham City solo in the two previous movies, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor were rumored among the list of hopefuls to play Robin. Reportedly, the field was narrowed to DiCaprio and O’Donnell. And O’Donnell was eventually cast.
Currently, O’Donnell is enjoying success on television as Special Agent G. Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles. But the actor has fond memories of playing Robin. In a recent interview with ETOnline, O’Donnell talks about what it was like to play The Boy Wonder:
ETonline: What did the film mean to you at the time? You were only 25 when you first got involved in the franchise.
Chris O’Donnell: It was interesting. I remember sitting in the back of a limousine being driven somewhere and my agent asking, “Are you going to do this or not?” I remember thinking, “My god, it seemed like a no-brainer. I grew up watching Batman and how could you not? But at the same time, I knew what a huge thing it was. Do I want to be a part of this? Do I want to be known as Robin?” I remember sitting in the car and going, “What am I going to do?” And I was like, “I’m in. I’m going to do it!”
O’Donnell also discussed working with great actors. And he also reveals which Batman he would hang with between Val Kilmer (Batman Forever) and George Clooney (Batman & Robin):
It was great. I had just worked with Drew [Barrymore] on Mad Love so I was real friendly with her. Nicole was terrific. I didn’t know her really well because she was married to Tom [Cruise] at the time and they were just kind of in their own world. Jim Carrey had most of his scenes with Tommy Lee, who I had worked with before so I knew him. I had most of my stuff with Val [Kilmer] and Val is an incredible actor. He can be a strange guy and not always a friendly guy, but a terrific actor — and I thought he was great as Batman.
If I’m going to hang with the Batman, I’m probably going to hang with George [Clooney, who took over the role in Batman & Robin].