Directed by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins), The Prestige revolves around the intense rivalry of two magicians, leading them on a life-long battle for supremacy full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences. From the time that they first meet as young magicians on the rise, Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) are competitors. However, their friendly competition evolves into a bitter rivalry, making them fierce enemies for life and consequently jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them.
Johansson plays Olivia, the mysterious woman who is Angier’s assistant before she becomes Borden’s. “She is this bohemian young girl who has traveled around doing various stage work, and applies for a job with Angier,” says Johansson of her character. “She is very taken with Angier’s story and with his passion for what he does. He’s one of those men that’s quite untouchable and as a young woman, that can be very attractive – this brooding, selfish behavior. She easily falls in love with him and they have an affair and in the end she is very hurt by him.”
Out of pure malice and greed for Borden’s trick, Angier sends the young assistant to spy on his rival. “Olivia is being used by the magicians to find out each other’s secrets,” explains Christopher Nolan. “So, then she gets sucked into the strange world of Borden and his trick.” Olivia helps Borden attain what Angier has in spades but which he himself lacks. “Borden doesn’t have this rapport with an audience because he doesn’t really wish to,” explains Bale. “Talking too much gets him into trouble. He’s not a people person. He is a loner. She’s the one that manages to convince Borden to get over this notion of being just a magician’s magician, to actually embrace a little bit of showmanship.”
It’s excruciating for Borden, but Olivia manages to bring it out. “For him to accept that he’s human and wants to be appreciated, that it does feel nice for an audience to actually be clapping at the end of his tricks rather than just staring there in silence, dumbfounded, and for them to understand his brilliance is something that feels very good,” says Bale. “But it’s going against all his instincts to suddenly be up there and showing a little bit more of himself. And I think it sickens him a little bit. He can’t help but feel that this isn’t the pure magic that he’s meant to be doing.”
Opening soon across the Philippines, The Prestige is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company.