ON THE TRAIL OF CHRISTIAN BALE
Although the twenty-three-year-old actor Christian Bale has made a very respectable career for himself in the movies – from the 1987 World War II drama ‘Empire of the Sun’ to ‘Little Women’ (1994) and ‘The Portrait of a Lady (1996) – he has achieved mega-stardom on the Internet. The three movies Bale has coming out this year (the love story ‘Metroland’, with Emily Watson; the semi-thriller ‘All the Little Animals’, with John Hurt; and, most anticipated, the glam-rock epic ‘Velvet Goldmine’), as well as his being cast as the lead in the soon-to-be-filmed ‘American Psycho’, will provide cyber fans with many more images to download in the months ahead.
Brendan Lemon: Your popularity as a heartthrob on the Web just keeps growing. Why?
CB: I like to think the reason I have this popularity on the Internet is partly related to the fact that I’ve never hired a publicist for myself. I’ve only done interviews when it’s for a film, and tend to talk about the film and avoid talking about myself a lot. So there just isn’t that much information about me available.
I did ‘Empire of the Sun’ when I was thirteen, and we did this huge international publicity push for it, and I really hated it. That has very much affected my ideas of exposure. A few years ago, however, this computer-whiz guy wrote me and asked if I would mind if he set up a Web site for me. This was when there were, like, literally three other actors who had one. So he started doing it, and he keeps updating it all the time. He’s done this amazing site that’s won loads of awards.
BL: It occurs to me that you’ve used a new technology to maintain a quality that used to be thought essential for a hollywood star: mystery.
CB: It’s important for an actor to have a certain amount of mystery. Personally, I love going to see a film when you can really watch a character. If you’ve just read some article about who the actor is sleeping with, that’s gonna be at the back of your mind all the time while you’re watching the film. And obviously the more press you do, the less you’re able to maintain that mystery.
BL: The Web has inspired rabid fanaticism about you and your work. Do you have fan leanings yourself?
CB: I love certain bands, and certain actors, but I’ve never written a fan letter in my life.
BL: The character you play in one of your upcoming films, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, essentially represents the fan point of view about the British glam-rock scene in the early 70s.
CB: If was a shame in a way that I didn’t get to be a rock star in it like Ewan (McGregor) and Johnny (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) did. I missed out on all the orgies. But what I have is a fantastic part anyway.
BL: And meanwhile you’re in the middle of a much bigger orgy of interest: on the Web.
By Brendan Lemon.