A judge and a priest walk onto a film stage - under normal circumstances this set-up might sound like the beginning of a joke but, this time, it's just the next piece of The Dark Knight Rises' seemingly perpetual casting process.
Director Christopher Nolan added two more cast-members today to his final Batman installment - in the form of Brett Cullen and Chris Ellis. The pair will play a judge and priest, respectively in The Dark Knight Rises.
Even without an official teaser trailer, Warner Bros. has enjoyed loads of high-profile buzz, rivaled only by Lionsgate's Hunger Games announcements, that's followed the non-stop torrent of Dark Knight Rises casting additions which so far include: Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Juno Temple (a street-smart gal), Josh Pence (spoilerish flashback character), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), and Alon Aboutboul (a mad scientist) with Matthew Modine, Tom Conti, and Joey King as well as Daniel Sunjata, Burn Gorman, and Diego Klattenhoff in unspecified roles (most likely cops and/or robbers).
It seems as if everyone is eager to pad their superhero film resume and hop on board the third Batman film as, according to Variety, Brett Cullen (Goodwin on LOST) and Chris Ellis (Admiral Brigham in Tranformers), each a relatively well-known character actor, have signed-on as well for a pair of marginal parts in the next tale from Gotham City. Cullen will fit-into the plot serving as a court judge with Ellis serving God as a man of the cloth.
Nolan has never given us reason to doubt his methods, or his madness, but there's no denying that The Dark Knight Rises is overstuffed with recognizable names. While it's unlikely that the smörgåsbord of well-known faces will disrupt any scenes between the characters, there's no doubt that it could be one of the largest ensemble casts in superhero film, if not general film, history.
That said, the real winner here is the marketing department who has managed to keep The Dark Knight Rises in the headlines - even when announcing casting for what would normally be marginal parts. Who's playing the hot dog salesman in Green Lantern? What about the army recruiting officer in Captain America: The First Avenger? Don't know? Neither do we - because, at the time, movie studios didn't feel compelled to announce parts like that - even if great character actors like Cullen or Ellis were attached to the roles.
Either way, there's no doubt that moviegoers and movie-insiders are always hungry for high-profile casting news - so expect a similar barrage of content when The Avengers gets farther along in production. If nothing else, Nolan and Co. should be commended for unleashing their casting announcements during the workweek (unlike fellow DC-inspired Man of Steel).
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick — and let us know what other actors or actresses you'd like to see in The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters on July 20th, 2012.