Christian Bale ('Batman Begins')
'The Bat Takes Flight'
The 10th Anniversary issue of Entertainment Weekly crowned Christian Bale as one of the Top 8 Most Powerful Cult Figures of the past decade, citing his incredible and legendary cult status on the Internet. EW also calls Bale one of the "Most Creative People in Entertainment" after his brilliant turn as the psychopathic yuppie serial killer in 'American Psycho' (2000). And Premiere lauded him as one of the "Hottest Leading Men Under 30".
Christian Bale has garnered a huge international audience ever since he wowed critics with his devastating performance in Steven Spielberg's WWII epic, 'Empire of the Sun' (1987). Bale made his professional debut opposite British comedian, Rowan Atkinson on the London West End stage. He auditioned with 4000 other kids for the coveted role of James Graham in Spielberg's 'Empire of the Sun.' Bale received a special citation for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor from the National Board of Review - an award specially created for his performance in 'Empire.'
In the following decade, Welsh-born Bale has appeared in Shakespeare, dramas and comedies demonstrating a versatility, depth and range that has made him one of the best reviewed actors today and one of the most popular actors on the Internet. Other such notable film turns have included roles in 'Velvet Goldmine' (1998), 'Shaft' (2000), 'Reign of Fire' (2002) and this years excellent 'The Machinest'.
So, what initially drew you to play the Dark Knight? "I'm not somebody that comes from a real comic book-loving background. When I was thinking about Batman I was thinking, ... Why? Why would he dress like this? This is ridiculous! Either it has to be done like a spoof, like the TV series was, or else to me it had to go somewhere else we haven't seen before."
What did it feel like putting that Bat Suit on for the very first time?! "When I put everything on, it made me feel like a creature, and I didn't feel 'human' anymore," Bale smiles.
Tell us a little bit about this film's storyline "In our story, it's the early days. So you do see him has a very young boy. And then you see him at age 22. And then you see him again age 29-30. And for me it was, there was never any intention of this from a young age whatsoever. He was very much bent on enacting revenge. Of maintaining the promise he makes to his parents, but specifically I think that he kind of thought of it as a short term deal. Something that he would be able to complete. So at a young age, initially he wanted to just take revenge on the person that killed his parents, and that doesn't go to plan and he has no other life really."
"He's been kind of happy to be sent away, and so he hasn't really planned anything whatsoever. In this story he disappears off on a journey. My take is that he never comprehends that this is going to be an ongoing thing. That he believes 'OK I can do this once, and then I can kinda get on with my life' and then it ends up consuming him and sucking him in. Not being something that he can avoid doing, and not really being the healthiest of endeavors."
So how about those weight issues?! "Yeah, well, I finished 'The Machinest' in July, and then we started filming on this at the end of February. But yeah, I did have a lot of work to do just because it's one of those parts were you have to be in decent shape for it visually but also I did need to be for what we were filming. Just dealing with being in the suit for 12 hours a day! Y'know, just eating like crazy, just trying to put on pounds and pounds and pounds. And I actually went way overboard."
"By the time I arrived in England, Chris kind of looked at me in shock and went 'God, you're like some grizzly bear' cos I arrived with long hair and a beard and stuff and I was like, filling up the hallway. By that time I had put on exactly a hundred pounds from the day of finishing 'The Machinest' to arriving in January in England and it was not very healthy. It was not a healthy way to go. I could lift a lot of weights, but you ask me to run across the room and I would've been exhausted. So when I got here, that's when I had to really start leaning up and doing a lot of running and all that stuff and brought my weight right back down again."
Did you perform any of your own stunts? "I gotta tell you," he says, "I was up for doing a lot more stunts than they would ever let me do, and there are exceptional stuntmen here as well, that are obviously doing stuff that I could never do. We did a lot of wirework rehearsals before we started filming, and I think however, they got a bit of cold feet after the stuntman one day came down on the wire and just landed straight on his face. And so I think, at that point, they thought, 'Ah, let's re-think just how much we're going to let Christian do this'!"
"So with all the enthusiasm in the world, I haven't actually done everything that I can do and that I learned to do in rehearsals. However, Buster, the stuntman actually introduced us to this really great fighting style called Keysi, which has a very unique look to it. It's a very brutal fighting style and it fits really well with the bat suit, and particularly with the ears and everything, just the way it goes. And it's very savage, very fierce, and I had to learn that. We have a lot of different fight sequences. I did learn every single fight sequence that's in the movie. I kind of tag-teamed with Buster, but I did have to do the whole thing. There's nothing that I sat back and went 'I'll be back there having coffee," he laughs.
What was it like getting in and out of the costume?! "It was great, it was a great feeling. We'd done a couple of camera tests beforehand, but it wasn't the whole way. It was kinda just 'Stand there. Turn around' and everything, and inevitably after 6 months of being in it, you kinda get used to it. But I did, I felt like a panther the first day. You know I did feel like some kind of wild animal, I don't know if anybody else was looking at me in that way. I don't know if I appeared quite as ferocious as I felt that I did, but I really felt like everybody was kinda looking like 'oooh'," he laughs. "And it does, it makes you feel like you want to kind of run and jump at people, and beat the crap out of them. And it just gives you this great neck and this physique that just looks intimidating. It's all kind of aggressive, it's all pointed forward, it's very much like a predator. And that was a thrill, doing that."
And the infamous low, gruff voice? "For me, I just felt that it was practical hat Bruce adopt a different voice when he's in the bat suit. I just mean practical in terms of identity. But that also it was kind of, I just saw it as a way of him being able to channel the clarity of mind that he must have had as a young boy when he first declared that he would get revenge. It's very difficult to maintain that throughout your life. It becomes a memory and it takes a great deal of energy to maintain that sharpness of emotion. So I just felt that everything about him should become different."
"The look, the voice and also so that he's able to have his own life somewhat. Because it seemed to me that if he was just going to be Bruce Wayne in a bat suit, first of all that seemed a little bit ridiculous to me. It would have been as ridiculous as any of us getting in a batsuit and genuinely thinking we could go out on the town and intimidate people. I think most people would probably laugh y'know? So you have to kind of really go for it in everyway. And for me that kind of involved taking on a slightly 'beastlike' voice as I hear it."
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