Entertainment Tonight (June 8th, 2000)


Christian Bale is taking on the one and only Samuel L. Jackson in the summer action fest ‘Shaft.’ Read on to find out just how he dealt with his intimidating competition!

You did a very good job being evil in this movie. Since you grew up overseas, did you know anything about the legend of John Shaft?

Yes, I did. It has definitely traveled. It is not just an American phenomenon. I would say that most of my contemporaries would be familiar with the story even if they had not seen the movie

I hadn’t seen the movie, but I knew all about Shaft. I knew Richard Roundtree and I had seen images. I knew roughly what it was about. He was this bad-ass private detective. He was a sex machine to all the chicks. I was just too young to see all the movies when they were released.

Did it make you nervous to be a part of this movie because it was such a huge film?

No, not at all. It really did excite me. It is really a different genre of a movie for me. It was also a different kind of budget. That was all good and it was a new challenge.

What attracted you to your character? Was it everything that you expected it to be? How do you tap into being a bad character?

I just really wanted to be a bad guy in an action movie. Yes, it was everything that I wanted it to be. I am sure that anyone can be bad if they want to. I had had a lot of practice, though, playing a bad guy in ‘American Psycho.’ I shot that right before ‘Shaft.’ The characters are just people that enjoy violence. You just have to try to bring that part of yourself out.

Have you seen the finished movie? What did you think of your performance?

Yes, I actually saw the movie last night. As for my performance, I was horrible and everybody hated me. So I congratulate myself because that is what John Singleton asked for. He would consistently tell me that he wanted to hate me. From the noise everyone was making when I came onto the screen, I would say that I accomplished that.

Is that weird to know that all of these people hate you?

Yes, it is a little bit. It is an affirmation that I have done a great job. I am sitting there and I am a little bit concerned because I am not sure if it is me that they are deciding that they hate or my character. It is amazing how many people seem to get the actors and the characters mixed up.

So did anyone give you any dirty looks after the viewing of the movie?

I stayed in my seat until everyone left.

When you watch the movie do you ever forget that it is you that is in the movie?

Last night I got caught up in the whole thing. I think it was due to the fact that there is less pressure on me because it is Samuel L. Jackson’s movie. I was really just watching everyone else. I think when you play a character that is not like yourself, not just in mentality but also in voice and body language, it does become like watching someone else. I don’t feel self-conscious or nervous. I watch it like I am watching another actor, really.

What was it like to work with Samuel L. Jackson?

Sam was fantastic. He is a real cool cat. He is one of the finest actors out there. I would love to work with him again in something other than a big action movie. In an action movie, the characters are a bit over the top. You are not going to get the most complex characters. It was why I wanted to be in ‘Shaft,’ though. I wanted to go toe to toe with Sam Jackson. I wanted to be the bad guy against him. It was really an honor.