E! Online Starboards (1996)


Move over Brad Pitt. Step aside Tom Cruise. Twenty-two-year-old Welshman Christian Bale has a fanatical group of cyberfans dedicated to converting the rest of the world into “Baleheads.” So enthusiastic are they that Entertainment Weekly recently declared, “If the Internet is the ultimate democracy, Christian Bale has been elected its biggest star.”

As Jim in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, a 13-year-old Bale received rave reviews. In the 10 years or so since, he’s been selective in choosing roles, holding out for quality and diversity. He’s done a couple of musicals (Newsies and Swing Kids), Shakespeare (Henry V) and brought several literary classics to life (Little Women, Prince of Jutland). In fact, he’s added two more films to that latter category: Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, with Bob Hoskins; and Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, with Nicole Kidman, opening this week.

He normally keeps a pretty low publicity profile–but we’ve landed him. So, in his own words, heeere’s Christian…

From droppy: I’d really like to know what you think about us Baleheads.

I’d sure like to know who coined the phrase! It’s wonderful. I’m very impressed by you all.

From curiousjaime: What’s your favorite role that you’ve done, and how do you choose which parts to take?

Those are difficult questions. The most satisfying for me to see is between Empire of the Sun, Murder of Quality, Little Women, and The Secret Agent. I expect Portrait of a Lady to join these. I choose a role on the basis of how well the script is written. It is always encouraging when the film has some really good actors already interested in the project. And, of course, my decision is based on who is doing the catering.

From karekate: Your Web page says you are an avid reader. What are some of your all-time favorite books?

I have an eclectic choice when it comes to novels, but Martin Amis has always been a great read.

From fiorella: What is your type of girl?

A good sense of humor, intelligence and great eyes. I’m also partial to ones with a pulse.

From phoebes: Do you ever doubt yourself as an actor, and if so, how you deal with this?

Of course everyone goes through hard times of doubt in all professions, and it is hard to deal with, naturally. The most important thing is to stay focused and keep your morale up. Alternatively, I get myself drunk and do silly dances around the pool with my dog.

From harriett: Who was your favorite little woman?

Jo March, played by Winona Ryder.

From florin: Who was your best onscreen kiss?

I’d have to try them all again to give a fair answer.

From gwenllian: What actors would you most like to work with, and which actors do you most admire?

There are many talented actors I would like to work with, including Glenn Close and David Thewlis. As for whom I admire, I guess Steven McQueen was a past favorite of mine.

From LkBwitched: What novel would you love to do for the screen?

Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy is a great book about an interesting man that I think would make a really great film.

From bailey: What are your hobbies?

I read a lot, paint, snowboard, surf, go out with friends, play video games–you know, normal stuff.

From chrystal: My friend and I read that you snowboard and ski a lot in California. Where do you go, exactly?

Mammoth and Big Bear have great conditions for skiing. California has a lot of great places to ski, and it only takes a few hours to get to them by car, unless you’re going to Mammoth, which takes a little longer. The best skiing is around February and March, but last year there were good conditions right up until June.

From crowanb: What type of snowboard do you own?

A Nitro Flux 6, made in Austria.

From mileena: What did you do this summer?

I went to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games in Atlanta with my sister, Louise, as a guest of Kenny Ortega, who directed Newsies. Kenny also did the choreography for the opening ceremonies.

From corgi: Did you do all of your own singing and dancing in Newsies and Swing Kids?

Yes, I did weeks and weeks of dance and vocal training for both films. In Newsies, we learned a martial-arts style of dancing, while on Swing Kids, I learned to do the lindy hop.

From newsie: In Swing Kids, did you find it hard to play the role of someone who turns against his friends and even almost kills one?

That made the part more interesting.

From aloha: How have you changed and grown as an actor since your debut in Empire of the Sun?

I’m a lot taller.

From miss_scarlett: You are so convincing as the characters you portray. How do you prepare yourself for a role?

That depends on the nature of the character. It’s helpful to know a little about the period, or style of the period of the film, as people may have acted differently. To portray Stevie in The Secret Agent, I studied some videos and visited a school for autistic children.

From questie: If for one day, you could forget all your responsibilities and do whatever you wanted, what would you do?

Probably go for a long drive in my car with my dog and my snowboard. Oh yeah, and a bunch of music.

From jers: Who are your favorite musicians?

Depends on my mood, as I listen to a number of artists. Techno is a favorite of mine, and such bands as Underworld and Electronic.

From launa: Of all the people you have worked with onscreen, who would you like to work with again?

I’d love to work again with Winona Ryder, Robin Williams and Kenneth Branagh.

From harrisonc: Which director would you most like to work with?

There are so many great directors out there. Of course, working with Martin Scorsese or Oliver Stone would be a great experience.

From jaclyn: What was it like working with Winona Ryder?

Winona is wonderful. She is very professional and intelligent and has wonderful instincts.

From stephbrm: I’ve read that you don’t want to have the typical celebrity lifestyle. How is that possible with the thousands of fans that go so far as to have Christian Bale conventions, newsgroups, etc.?

I’m very flattered that my fans are that active, but it doesn’t really affect my lifestyle.

From dweadpiwate: If you were God for a day, what would you do?

Wow, that one is a little too heavy for me!