‘The Dark Knight’ Had to Edit Scenes to Avoid R Rating

Christopher Nolan was forced to trim certain scenes for The Dark Knight to maintain its PG-13 rating.

David Dastmalchian, who played abducted schizophrenic Thomas Schiff, told The Hollywood Reporter his encounter with a frenzied Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) was tamed by the MPAA:

“[Nolan] told me a funny anecdote. He said he really liked the scene, but he said when we were shooting it, I was pushing my head against Aaron’s gun and he was pushing the gun back,” Dastmalchian said.

“I remember for a few weeks after I had a big welt on my head and a little goose egg and black bruise. He said that was one of the moments the MPAA asked him to go back and he had to cut out the indent from the gun barrel on my head.”

The director also had to show restraint when it came to the murderous antics of the Joker (Heath Ledger), namely a scene that originally showed a knife stabbed through a bloody Joker card on the corpse of a Batman imposter. In the final cut, the card is neatly pinned to the body.

The reveal comes after actor Michael Jai White told THR his role as mob boss Gambol was originally extended: the gangster initially survived his up-close run-in with the Joker, and it wasn’t until White saw the film at its premiere that he learned the blockbuster was reworked to depict the clown criminal using his trusty blade to slice and slay Gambol.

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The Dark Knight celebrated its tenth anniversary earlier this month. Reflecting on the seminal superhero blockbuster earlier this year during the Cannes Film Festival, Nolan described his sophomore take on the caped crusader as “a crime drama in the mold of a Michael Mann film. The Joker was a terrorist, an agent of chaos set loose.”

The Inception and Dunkirk filmmaker has long described the middle installment of his iconic trilogy as taking inspiration from Mann’s Heat, the 1995 crime-drama that pit Robert De Niro against Al Pacino, a cat-and-mouse game not dissimilar from the machinations of the unleashed Joker and Gotham’s lone protector (Christian Bale).