Jeffrey Wright recalls how the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic shut down the set of The Batman in March 2020 and the aftermath of getting back to work on the Matt Reeves reboot. On March 14, Warner Bros. paused production for two weeks in the United Kingdom, only for Reeves to reveal on March 25 that filming was on hold indefinitely. After delays caused the DC Films studio to push back Batman from June to October 2021, filming restarted briefly — only to halt again when lead Robert Pattinson tested positive for the virus. The Batman is still on track for a March 4, 2022 release only in theaters.
"Every head in the room swiveled toward that," the Jim Gordon actor told IndieWire, recounting what happened when an actor coughed in-between takes. "And I was spraying that whole room, so if I had it that particular day, everybody would've had it. We shut down the next day."
Before the six-month shutdown, Wright contacted producer Dylan Wright about concerns over the coronavirus.
"I was having conversations with him where I was like, 'Hey, man, what exactly are we going to be doing here going forward?'" Wright said. "At that time, there were no travel restrictions from the UK, but the numbers were rising. I called my agent and said, 'We have to get out of here. We may be isolated here. There's no way in hell we're going to be shooting. It's about to go down.'"
One Batman star spoke out in praise of the safety measures and restrictions put in place to protect the cast and crew, and Wright was similarly impressed on how Warner Bros. managed a safe shoot in the era of COVID-19.
"We went back to testing three times a week, then it became three times a week and N95 masks required at all times except when we were filming," Wright said. "There were breaks and ventilation requirements and separate spaces for hair and makeup. We took it very seriously and were respectful. We got it done safely."
Newcomer Jayme Lawson, who plays Bella Real, says the pandemic-proofed set of The Batman felt "100 percent" safe.
"I remember talking with Dylan Clark over the summer; I'd ask him questions and he'd keep me up to date with the protocols," Lawson told The Hollywood Reporter in November. "So they've been very forthcoming and open about making sure that we feel safe and have whatever we need, at any moment. So I feel absolutely safe being on set for that production."
Starring Robert Pattinson as Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as the Riddler, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Colin Farrell as Oswald 'Oz' Cobblepot, and Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, The Batman opens on March 4, 2022.