FACES TO WATCH | ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT, HE’LL SING
”Everybody thinks I’m a spoiled little English public- school boy who’s still about 4-foot-11,” Christian Bale says with a laugh. In fact, he’s 5-foot-11, 18 years old, and just took his first driving test-in California rather than his hometown of Bournemouth, England. The confusion is understandable, though. In Steven Spielberg’s 1987 Empire of the Sun, Bale made a memorable film debut playing a privileged British lad thrown into a Japanese World War II internment camp. Now, having finished school at Bournemouth College, he is eagerly dipping into new roles and accents: He adopted the ”dese-dem-and-dose” patois of a turn-of-the-century Bowery Boy for his star turn as a singing, dancing labor organizer in the Disney musical Newsies, due in March. ”I was very worried about the dancing and singing, and in general I don’t like musicals,” Bale admits, but director Kenny Ortega was ”very manipulative. He reassured me that I wouldn’t be doing a Judy Garland. He claimed Al Pacino had done a musical. I said, ‘What? Al Pacino?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’ He did a whole number on me.” Bale knew there was no need to chase down the mysterious Pacino musical (it doesn’t exist); he’s already moved on to Swing Kids, about young Germans on the eve of World War II, now shooting in Prague. The role is giving him his third accent in three times out-that of an eager Nazi convert.