Calgary Sun (April 8th, 2000)


Los Angeles – There was very little Christian Bale wasn’t willing to do to land what he considered the killer role of his career. In American Psycho — opening Friday — the British actor stars as Wall Street ace Patrick Bateman, who is a broker by day and serial murderer by night. Bale, 27, was Canadian filmmaker Mary Harron’s first choice to play Bateman in a $6-million US version of Bret Easton Ellis’ highly controversial 1992 novel.

Contracts had been signed, agreements made and Bale had even taken out a membership in a gym to begin sculpting his body. Suddenly, Leonardo DiCaprio mentioned he had been a fan of the novel. The project was put into major turnaround. The budget escalated to $30 million. Oliver Stone was considered as a replacement for Harron, and Bale found himself in limbo.

“There was a period of at least six months when Leo was seriously being considered for the film,” says Bale from his apartment inLos Angeles.

“I don’t know any of the details of those negotiations because I didn’t want to. It was frustrating enough that the project had seemingly fallen through for me.

“Mary kept insisting it didn’t make sense to have Leo in the film. His fan base is 13-year-old girls and they wouldn’t have been able to see the movie.”

Eventually, DiCaprio pulled out of American Psycho to do The Beach. The project returned to Harron and Bale.

“In the end, the experience proved to be an incredible confidence-booster for me. Mary had supported me and fought for me the whole time.

“As rewarding as it turned out to be, I will never devote 18 months of my life to any movie again.”

Because Bateman is consumed with image, Bale had to arrive on the Toronto set last year as buff as possible.

“That wasn’t easy for an Englishman who’d much rather visit a pub than a gym. I practically lived in a gym for two months, ate a lot of tuna and drank gallons of water.

“I could never buy into the narcissism it took to turn Christian Bale into Patrick Bateman, but I admit I haven’t thrown away my gym membership.”

Bateman uses everything from axes to chainsaws and nail guns to kill and dismember his victims. That meant Bale often found himself spending 12 hours a day drenched in stage blood.

“It was some kind of corn syrup concoction. It went through several versions because the first batch dyed my skin pink. I couldn’t work for a couple of days.”

During the filming of American Psycho, rumours circulated that the Toronto production was being picketed by groups incensed the film was being made.

“I read about the protests, but I never saw any evidence of them. Perhaps I was too focused on my work, or it was all just hype.”

Bale says people who denounce American Psycho as mindless violence and perversion are missing the whole point.

“It’s a satire. It’s an indictment of the commercialism of the mid-’80s.

“People who come expecting to see a huge slasher flick are going to be disappointed. There are certainly elements of that in American Psycho, but it is also a very sly comedy.”

By Louis B. Hobson.