Location - the Ridge off Santa Monica Pier
date - 08/17/2010
Matt Benson: Christian, first and foremost I wanna thank you for taking some time to talk to me.
Christian Bale: Oh absolutely and by the way I've pretty much got nothing but time on my hands now (laughing). Just wrapped on this film I was doing called 'The Fighter' with Mark Wahlberg and David O' Russell.
Benson: Now can you tell me a little bit about that? And because I've known you for about 8 years now I'm gonna have some fun razzing you about this.
Bale: Ah, perfect
Benson: The first time people heard about your casting in a David O' Russell film, I think collectively people were thinking "uh oh" and it was a safe bet that a youtube vid of Christian Bale and David O' Russell would surface during the shoot.
Bale: Yeah and I'd be a complete liar if I would say that I didn't have any worries myself initially when David called me up and asked me to play this role but surprisingly it went pretty well. I mean look, David's an intense guy and some people would say the same about me but I think sometimes you need those kind of personalities on specific films like on Terminator and especially this one about boxing.
Benson: Speaking of Terminator, I don't think I read or caught up with any interviews with you about the film after it came out but were you surprised with the critical reaction to the film? It seemed like the fans gave it support but the consistent thing that bogged the film was that it was too "moody".
Bale: I'll be the first to admit that maybe the direction we went with 'Salvation' didn't translate well with the overall tone of the franchise that preceded it. I do understand that fans of Cameron's vision didn't think our version was pure to the story of what John Conner was supposed to be. I think we were worried about replicating what the earlier series did so much so that we did a 360 and just told a story about John Conner in a depressing era where he has no humor left and is just an angry guy. If I had a chance to do it all over again I'd suggest to McG that John Conner would have the personality that he had in T2 to make it a fun action film.
Benson: Now, when I think of that film I do remember people being extremely picky about your performance vocally in films like Terminator and The Dark Knight. Could you explain or expand why you chose to have Batman portrayed as a guy with that gravelly voice?
Bale: (laughs) Believe me it's not just fans who tell me about that all the time, you should hear my wife and her family or my friends telling me to tone it down.(LOL I can only imagine Sibi's :D face making fun of him) When Chris (Nolan) and I first got together for countless days initially discussing how Batman and Bruce Wayne were going to be shown I think the idea of Bruce Wayne was already set in stone. We were going to play him off as the fake, phony, billionaire playboy guy that isn't the essence of the true character. He's the smoke screen to the real guy under that facade. Then we got to Batman and we were stumped because I didn't want to look or sound like Michael Keaton, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer or anyone else who preceded me. Then, because I was still reading over 80 issues of Batman comics a day doing research, I saw a panel of Alfred fixing Bruce Wayne's tux and telling him that his voice is a bit gravelly so I expanded on that thought and told Chris that the Batman should be like an animal that people fear and Chris loved it so that's how that started. I thought in 'Begins' I was perfectly in my zone and had the voice the way I wanted it to sound but during The Dark Knight I was uncomfortable about 90% of the shoot because I was unhappy with the way I sounded. During filming I caught a throat infection from a cold and actually had to be transported to the hospital in Chicago near the shoots the very first week of April back in 2007. The rest of the way was a struggle to perform vocally and it obviously shows. I had a pretty good laugh when I was reading the Times and they wrote that I sounded like someone who needed a cough drop, which in turn I desperately did need. That and some digital post production work on the voice didn't really help with the situation. I'm more that confident that on the next one it'll be more normal, still threatening of course, but nothing like it did in dark knight.
Benson: Okay, before we go on to that I want to get your thoughts on what it was like working with Heath Ledger and the impact of his performance.
Bale: There really isn't a single word to describe what it was like to work with Heath. What Heath brought to the set everyday was innovative and new and made working on the film almost like a journey. He'd show up and incorporate new things that he made up either on the spot or had in his pocket for some time. I'll never forget this but Heath actually delayed a day of the shoot for some hours because he was doing a scene that was incredibly out there that everyone on set was laughing hard for a long time. I was in one of the business suits that they custom made for me and I split the bottoms because I was constantly doubled over in pain from laughing so hard. It was a scene that was taken out but it involved Jonathan Crane going to the Joker for help and tries to trick him with the fear gas only for Heath to say "nope" and proceed to beat the tar out of Cillian (Murphy). I wish it stayed on (me too Señor, me too.) but Chris and Lee Smith the editor didn't think it fit with the rest of the film. I know Heath got the attention he deserved for his performance but the moment I really felt happiness and satisfaction was when Heath got the oscar win for his performance and seeing his family accept the award it really set my worries that his legacy would be forgotten to rest you know? (THIS IS SO SWEET :'] )
Benson: Yes, I agree completely. Now moving on to the next Batman film, I know that you aren't allowed to talk much about it-
Bale: -I really don't know much at this stage of though. (Laughs) It's really pre-production stage with scouting locations and the script near completion but knowing Chris he'd start with some of the script done and a bit of on location improv.
Benson: Now, you talked about scouting locations. Could you give us a preview of where it would shoot? We heard quite a bit of rumor that it'd be filmed partly in New Orleans.
Bale: I haven't heard anything about New Orleans but it wouldn't surprise me. Chris, Emma (Thomas), and Wally Pfister are going all out for this and want to make this the perfect story and end it on an epic scale. Chicago's obviously going to play the main stage for Gotham, we're going to use Shepherton studios again, Vancouver's come up, and minor locations in Asia.
Benson: So are you confirming here that this is the last time you put on the cape and cowl?
Bale: I never would want to say never, but if Chris Nolan is not behind the lens I wouldn't feel comfortable portraying this character. It's the reason why I don't like sequels with different directors and the main reason why I didn't return for American Psycho 2, because Mary Harron didn't want to do it I kind of followed suit.
Benson: Looking at the route Marvel is going with the Avengers would you be open to doing a Justice League film?
Bale: I think in terms of doing a Justice League movie Warner Bros is doing the right thing by setting up franchises of characters individually. I'm a huge fan of the JLA series, you know like Identity Crisis and Geoff Johns is a phenomenal writer, I think he has a Batman book that he's working on too that I'm excited about. But as far as a Justice League movie I wouldn't immediately say no. If you asked me back 2 years ago I would have said no but now looking at how they're treating the Superman reboot that Chris is simultaneously working on now and the Green Lantern film I'm more open to the idea of the "normal world" Batman being included and introduced to the world of powers and supernatural events. I think that would be fun to do but as long as the right story comes first. (I really like how loyal he is to Chris Nolan)
Benson: I know you said that you don't know much about the direction of the next film but if you had a wish list or a speculation who do you think would be next in line for The Dark Knight to take on?
Bale: I'm not confirming anything (laughing) but if I had my wish I think it would be fun to focus mainly on the Riddler as the main villain, Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne forming the cat and the bat thing that's in the comics, and maybe throw in Oswald Cobblepot in there or Black Mask. I think Chris wants to move on from the mob war that we established in the past 2 films but if there were minor roles for those guys I'd definitely be looking forward to that.
Benson: How do you see your physique when it comes to Batman for the next one?
Benson: Alright last question for you Christian, I always end my interviews with this and it's what is your favorite TV show to watch?
Bale: I don't really watch television much but I do enjoy Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and I was also very much into LOST. The way it ended was really well done and on an emotional level it was perfect.
Benson: Christian I appreciate you again for taking time in talking with me. Talk again when the next Batman is in filming or coming out? We both live in the Los Angeles county.
Bale: (laughing) As long as I don't have to fly out to another city.
I liked this interview, he seems very relaxed. I wish he'd been asked about Inception, just to know his opinion on it :)
Yes, it's bolded.