Those around in 1997 might recall rumors that actor Patrick Stewart, not yet having played Professor X in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” was in talks to play Mr. Freeze in the then-upcoming Batman film. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Joel Schumacher finally but the kibosh on those rumors, pointing out that Stewart was never contacted, that he never auditioned, and that he wasn’t even suggested by anyone. “It’s a beautiful idea,” the director admitted, however.
Stewart, a classically trained Shakespearean actor, and then fresh off of “Star Trek: First Contact,” would certainly have played the role differently than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who more often reached for high camp and who made frequent puns about ice and freezing. (Sample dialogue: “Let’s kick some ice.”) Indeed, storyboard artist Steve Burgard claims that an earlier version of the script, credited to Akiva Goldsman, didn’t have the puns in them. Burgard said that Mr. Freeze was initially written for an actor more like Stewart, containing an element of classical tragedy:
“All the dialogue was for Mr. Freeze, you could tell it was meant for somebody who would deliver it in a Shakespearean fashion. It was hysterical; in my head, I was reading Freeze’s dialogue as Schwarzenegger.”
When the production landed Schwarzenegger — one of the world’s biggest movie stars, making it difficult to say anything but “yes” — the character was altered. Burgard said that it was only after the part was cast that the silly puns were worked into the screenplay. The Shakespearean notes were dropped and the camp, reminiscent of the 1966 “Batman,” came creeping in.