Not many people who stand up to Batman live another day to talk about it. Actor Gil Perez-Abraham, fortunately, is one of those rare examples.
In filmmaker Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Perez-Abraham plays Officer Martinez, a Gotham cop who is on the trail of a criminal known as The Riddler (Paul Dano). At the beginning of the movie, Martinez is at the scene of a murder when Batman (Robert Pattinson) shows up to investigate. During the scene, Martinez stops Batman from getting a closer look by putting his hand on his chest. Somehow, he avoids eating a bat fist.
Perez-Abraham shot the scene on his first day of production. His hand, he said, felt like it was on Pattinson’s chest for at least 10 minutes. “I told myself, ‘This man is not getting past me,’” Perez-Abraham told Remezcla during a recent interview. “The longer I left [my hand] there, the better I felt.”
Although he admits that he was “terrified” during the scene because Pattinson’s Batman was “big as heck,” the direction he received from Reeves was to “stop him,” so that’s what he was ultimately going to do. “I loved playing someone who has that instinct to just do it,” he said. “When you watch the movie, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘This little cop is about to get beat down.’ But in the moment, I’m thinking, ‘I’m about to take this guy down, and I’m doing it for everyone in Gotham.’”
After the scene was over, Perez-Abraham joked about what a surreal experience it was for him. “In the aftermath, I looked at my hand, and it felt like Dumbledore’s hand in the final [Harry Potter] movie,” he said. “It felt like it was blackened. I couldn’t move it. My hand was starstruck.”
If Perez-Abraham’s hand was mesmerized by that one scenario, we could only assume that his entire body was stunned on set when Reeves, Pattinson, and actor Jeffery Wright, who plays Commissioner Gordon, asked him to collaborate with them on scenes.
“They came around and wanted to build the scenes, so they started asking me, ‘So, what do you think?’” Perez-Abraham said. “Not only did I feel accepted, but also encouraged to do more. I felt really proud.”
Pride is definitely something Perez-Abraham should feel. While his role in The Batman is a small one, it’s an enormous step for the Baltimore-born, Venezuelan American actor. Since starting his career on screen about 10 years ago, he has earned roles on several TV series, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Orange Is the New Black, and The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
With DC Comics leading the charge to have more Latine representation in superhero movies (Sasha Calle as Supergirl and Leslie Grace as Batgirl, for example), Perez-Abraham looks forward to seeing even more Latine actors land roles in blockbusters like The Batman.
“This is the change that people have been fighting for – to be seen as an actor who fits the part and not just someone who is filling a quota,” he said. “Not only was I presented in a really beautiful way [in The Batman], but this was also the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The Batman opens wide at theaters on March 4, 2022.