E! Online Q&A (1998)
THE CYBERSPACE STUD ON HITTIN’ THE GOLDMINE AND DOIN’ THE DEED WITH WINONA (AND EWAN!)
He may not be as big as Leo. Okay, he’s not even in the same league. But Christian Bale does have a titanic fan base that has single-handedly elected him king of the Internet, if not the world.
The hundreds of Bale shrines aside, go into any entertainment chat room, and you’ll find info on the 24-year-old Brit, who boasts an impressive list of credits, though many were on noncommercial projects.
Bale’s certainly playing the Hollywood game differently than most of his counterparts. Perhaps it’s because he comes from a long line of performers–his mother was in the circus, his grandfather was a magician/ventriloquist and his other granddad was actually John Wayne’s stand-in.
Or perhaps it’s because Bale started at the top and has had to live up to his unforgettable feature debut in Steven Spielberg’s WWII drama Empire of the Sun. Since, he has worked with Kenneth Branagh in Henry V and Nicole Kidman in Portrait of a Lady. He has wooed Winona Ryder in Little Women and jitterbugged with the Nazis in Swing Kids.
Now, Bale takes on Todd Haynes’ gritty glam-rock escapade Velvet Goldmine. He costars with Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers–and gets down and naked with McGregor as an ’80s journalist asked to do a “Where are they now” story on the Bowie-esque star he once idolized.
Next, he does the Bard in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, due out next year. (Unlike Leo’s Romeo + Juliet, this flick is set in Victorian times.)
And with a little luck and a lot of negotiating, he’ll fill Leo’s shoes for the title role (which was supposed to be his from the getgo) in the big-screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho.
Can Bale’s very own table at Balthazar be far behind?
So, is American Psycho happening?
It’s all looking a bit good, but until I’m on the set, I won’t be popping any champagne.
Why do you want to play such a disturbed character?
Do you always want to see nice characters on film?
I don’t want to see a rat eating out a girl’s innards.
Well, you won’t see that onscreen. Some things are impossible to do on film. Ellis does manage to write things that are the most repulsive I’ve ever read, but it’s a greatly misunderstood book.
The main accusation made against it is that it’s misogynistic. The main character is misogynistic, but does that mean the book is?
No, it’s actually quite a moralist’s book.
How did you react when you first saw the script?
I assumed it was going to be a psychological thriller. I started reading it and found it hilarious. I called up the woman who wrote it and said, .”Thanks for sending me the script. I have to say, I thought this was one of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read. Was I meant to?” And she said, .”Yes, that’s the whole point.” That’s what most people don’t seem to realize about it.
You seem completely confident with your selection of roles. Why Velvet Goldmine?
It was a fortunate occurrence. I had seen Safe and thought it was incredibly original. I called my agent and said, “This Todd Haynes, what’s he up to?” Literally, they had just gotten sent Velvet Goldmine and passed it on to me. I read the script and thought it was brilliant. Often with scripts, it’s not much fun reading them, because you have to imagine all the time, but with Velvet Goldmine, it was almost the same enjoyment as reading a book.
What do you think of glam rock?
Some of the music has quite rightfully been forgotten. But others–essentially, Bowie’s and T.Rex’s stuff, Roxy Music and Brian Eno–are really quite timeless.
Did you get to keep any of the funky outfits from the film?
I had all the cheap-ass tacky stuff, so, frankly, I didn’t want it. And all of them were sort of asphixiatingly tight on me.
Without giving away too much, what was it like to have a love scene with Ewan McGregor?
I took it like a man. He was really tender, very caring. He hugged me afterwards But he never writes. He never calls. Goddamn him!
Actually, it was a freezing night when we were doing the scene, and it was far less explicit than Ewan and myself thought it was going to be. The camera was on another roof looking across at us. The only thing Todd did was whisper, “Cut,” rather than shouting it, so that Ewan and I couldn’t hear.
We were going at it for ages. Then Ewan sort of turned his head and realized, “Hey, the camera’s not f**king pointed at us anymore!” So, I sort of turned my head. We stop, and the whole crew is just sitting there. They’d cut ages ago!
Who was a better romantic partner, Winona or Ewan?
It was the foreplay with Winona – all the kissing, but we never actually got down to it. With Ewan, it was straight down to it. We didn’t have any foreplay other than talking. There’s no kissing. A few little touches, but then it’s straight at it.
So which do you like better, the foreplay or going straight to the action?
Well, I like both, frankly. Oh, shut up.
Okay, on to a favorite guilty pleasure of mine–Newsies. Was that fun, or do you look back and cringe?
I’m just getting over cringing about it. I’ve only seen it once, and I was watching it through my hands. But I watched it again about two weeks ago and loved it. I had a great time making it. I’ve always hated musicals–can’t stand the bloody things. But they kept asking me to do it. I kept saying, “I’m not going to sing or dance.” And they said, “Ummm…okay.”
But you did dive in eventually.
When we started, I said, “Okay, when we do this scene, I’ll say my lines, and when they start dancing, I’ll wander off.” But then you’re right in the center of making a musical. You can’t help it. And at some point, the Julie Andrews in you comes out. I had a thoroughly good time. And I’ll never do a musical again.
Actually, you did do Pocahontas.
But I didn’t sing in it! And I never met any of the other actors. Over about a year and a half, I’d go in and bang out a load of lines from wherever I was. It was one of the easiest things to do.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
I’d like to be able to get into the new show V.I.P.–but it looks boring. Something like Baywatch is embarrassing but entertaining. Unfortunately, this new thing looks embarrassing and boring. Maybe I’m just free of guilt. I just have pleasures.
How do you feel about being so incredibly popular on the Net?
It’s phenomenal. I’m a complete moron when it comes to computers. I’m in touch with the man who runs my Web page, so I know what’s going on all the time. I don’t really know about many of the unofficial ones.
I did see one where somebody said, “I saw Christian standing outside of Tower Records with a friend.” And they named him. And then they said, “Then they went to so-and-so, and then they went to so-and-so after.” There was obviously someone following us the entire time.
Have you ever received any really strange fan mail – or maybe even something weird in the mail?
I read about other actors who get knickers and pornographic pictures sent to them. I seem to attract very wholesome people. I thought, “Am I a bit boring? Why don’t I get any of the nymphos?” I said that to the guy who handles my mail, and he said, “Well, you do. I just don’t show you those. I have to discard the photos instantly, because I’d be booked by the police if they found them in my apartment.” Which is quite nice to hear. It gratifies you that you’re not completely asexual.
But there were things that were quite unpleasant. A long time ago, right after I did Empire of the Sun, people kept managing to get my phone number. One guy called me up, saying he was going to commit suicide. I’m 14, standing in the hallway on the phone with this guy telling me, “Christian, I’ve had it. I’m going to kill myself. I feel like the only person I can talk to is you.” It was a horrible situation to be in at 14.
Are you single-maybe dating?
No, I just collect lots of knickers.
By Jeffrey Epstein.