Starring in The Dark Knight presented more of a test than actress Maggie Gyllenhaal had expected, she has admitted.

The 30-year-old is to follow in the footstep of Katie Holmes to play Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Rachel Dawes in the Batman Begins sequel and had been expecting to play a stereotypical female role in the comic book movie.

Holmes reportedly pulled out of the project due to a scheduling conflict, with Stranger Than Fiction star Gyllenhaal stepping in to play a lawyer inextricably linked with the Caped Crusader.

When asked if her character was a genre staple, the actress said: "There are moments of that. Chris Nolan, the director, would joke about how I had to resign myself to being a little bit of a damsel in distress.

"But he pushed me in other ways to make her a powerful character," she told Metro.

"I play a lawyer and have real relationships with the people I'm interacting with in the movie. She's very smart and a real rounded person.

"Of course, if you're the girl in Batman, you're going to be a damsel in distress to some extent," Gyllenhaal admitted, "but she's a really great character."

Having starred as decidedly dysfunctional characters in Secretary and Sherrybaby, Gyllenhaal admitted that: "So many people I play are a mess."

But new character Rachel is "really clear about what's important to her and unwilling to compromise her morals, which made a nice change".

The Dark Knight is released on July 25th.

09/01/2008 11:10:50