In “The Prestige,” a drama of rival stage magicians in Victorian London, British-born helmer Nolan found that his brother Jonathan, who co-wrote the script with him, had handed him a brilliant dilemma.
One lead, Borden, is a brilliant magician but a rather stiff performer. The other is a lesser magician but charismatic onstage.
“As a director,” says Chris Nolan, “you’re thinking, ‘How do you show one doing bad magic really well but the other doing really good magic, badly?'”
He found the answer in the casting of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.
“You see Hugh’s innate understanding of stage performing and the energy the audience requires from him, while Christian has this way of shutting himself down and keeping himself apart from the audience.
“He performs the tricks with mechanical precision but there’s no life to them, no fun to them.
“Getting the two right guys to perform it in the right way was key to that.”