Making ‘Batman’ with Brother Christopher Nolan Gave Jonathan Nolan the ‘Guts’ to Adapt ‘Fallout’

Brothers and filmmaking extraordinaires each in their own right, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan are having a banner year. Back in March, Christopher’s “Oppenheimer” swept the Oscars, garnering him his first Best Director statuette, and now Jonathan is heating up Emmy’s conversations with his TV adaptation of the video game series “Fallout.” At an FYC screening of the first episode, Christopher interviewed Jonathan on how he went about expanding the universe from the video games and creating his own entity.

“As an adaptation, it’s the kind of adaptation that you and I were often drawn to where there’s actually room to adapt, right?” Jonathan said to his brother. “There is room to do some writing in there. I think there’s always extraordinary respect for the ‘Harry Potter’ films, for ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. But I think as a writer they’re incredibly challenging because you have to try to get something from one medium to another and you really can’t change anything.”

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Despite his appreciation for the space given to build his own entry into the franchise, Jonathan ceded writing and showrunning duties to Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner, instead opting to focus on the overall tone and look of the show as a producer/director.

“The exciting thing for me with this project was knowing that we needed showrunners,” Jonathan Nolan said. “We needed people to carry the story forward. I thought there was a opportunity for me to contribute as a sort of a producing director for lack of a better term, but to come in and try to figure out how we would bring this to life on screen and the answer was to steal a bunch of shit I learned from you and a couple new things.”

Going into further detail on his elder brother’s influence on him, Jonathan explained that he felt more comfortable dealing with the fan expectations that come with adapting a beloved I.P. after watching Christopher work on his acclaimed trilogy of “Batman” movies.

“I don’t know if I would’ve had the guts to do it if we hadn’t gone through the experience on ‘Batman,'” he said. “The handful of moments — and I think often about you casting Heath Ledger and the months of — and I’m not even sure how aware you were of it, because you’re not online. At the time, I was very online and very aware of the fact that people thought, ‘Oh, they’ve blown it.’ Because they couldn’t quite see it. It wasn’t Jack Nicholson. And I remember watching that and being terrified because we had written a draft and we’re sort of thinking, ‘How’s this going to work out?’ And I think the answer was it worked out very, very well. And that gave me the courage to go, ‘Ok, look, if you approach these things, not for the fans, but as a fan, find something that you love and try to treat it with as much respect as you can and trust that respect and love will show through even if you have to — in the cases you pointed out — you have to make choices.’”

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