As is the case with most action movies, lead actors are considered too valuable to hurl through walls and windows. Usually this is where the stunt guys come in.
In the case of Batman and Batman Returns Dave Lea, previously a body guard and martial arts expert, took the blows for Michael Keaton. Paul Rodgers chatted with Dave about Batman, life in the movies and his most recent work - Cass.
Paul: Your first "gig" was in BBC's long running soap opera Eastenders.
Dave: I had already done a year on Eastenders, but I wasn't taking it serious - I was just having a good time and being paid well for it. I was getting a little hungry for a little bit of action when I was doing TV work and this came right along my way - perfect timing.
Paul: So Eastenders led to stunt work?
Dave: It was more like I just wanted to kick a chair or a table and do something a little bit more than dialogue. So in some scenes in TV work I would say "Can I kick a chair over when I walk past here, or can I do this or that?" and they would say "Why would you want to do that?"
The agent I had on Eastenders called me up and said "Hey, you wanna do a couple of weeks on Batman?" I had no idea what it was - I was thinking it was a TV show, I didn't know it was a movie set.
Paul: How did you go from "extra" to the position of stunt double?
Dave: When I was doing the "biker" role in Batman, there were about 5 of us sitting at a coffee table when the Batmobile pulls up. Everyone gets up to have a look at the car. Well I got up, jumped over the table, kicked the chair out of the way and made my way there. Tim [Burton] said "I like what you did there. That was good, do that again". They're looking at me asking how come I thought of it and they didn't! Anything you do is great for the camera.
I was doing the night shift, 6 in the evening to 5 in the morning as an extra with hundreds and hundreds of people around. At night time when everyone would be in the big tent telling their life stories to each other or getting wasted on whatever they were doing I would be out on the set just sneaking around practicing kicking and moving around - working out. It seems someone saw me doing that and brought my name up at a certain time when it worked out.
I was down there and the second unit director, Peter McDonald, asked me "Why didn't you tell me you did some of this fighting?" and I said "Well you never asked me." So then he said "Show me what kind of fighting you do".
There are three stunt guys in front of me and I said "Really, are you sure?" "Yeah, why not", he said. So I just unloaded onto these three guys not thinking I'm supposed to be only joking but I went for them.
"Woah, woah, stop, stop!" McDonald said. "Well you told me to go for them", I said. "Yeah, but not like that - just pretend". "I don't know how to pretend fight, I only fight for real". Back then I didn't understand a stunt-punch from a stunt-kick. I didn't mean that in an egotistical way - that's just what I knew.
Anyway, eventually they asked me to do this move and that move, flip up from the ground, do a punch here and do a punch there. Then they said "Ok, let's try the costume on!" It was a week later when I ended up putting the costume on. So I put the costume on, came back and they said "Now do the same stuff". I did and I made it work.
The next thing I'm signing a contract with Warner Bros and that was that.