Empire (June 2001)


Will he be the next James Bond? Did he enjoy hanky panky with Ewan? What is on his business card? From starring for Spielberg to sparring with Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Christian Bale answers all your questions.

I’ve been telling my mates that you should be the next James Bond. Have you ever thought about doing it?
Buddy Mason, London

I’ve only thought of it because a couple of people have mentioned it since American Psycho, and I suppose there are actually a number of character traits that are similar between Bond and Patrick Bateman – a complete lack of remorse in killing people, both are utter misogynists… There are a couple of scenes in American Psycho, where he hires a limo and puts on a tux, that I imagine Bateman is trying to be James Bond ’cause I would always play Bateman’s scenes as though he was starring in one of his own movies. Certainly if I was going to do it, it wouldn’t be for a long time.

Hi Christian, I’ve read an interview with Vinnie Jones where he says that Nic Cage was a bit of a loner filming Gone In 60 Seconds. How did you find the man on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin?
Adrian Pyhle, Swansea

I don’t have many scenes with Nic. The scenes that we did have saw Nic speaking in an Italian accent and me speaking in a Greek accent, because we both maintained that all the time we were on set. So any conversations we did have were quite bizarre. I had no idea if I was really talking to Nic. He certainly wasn’t really talking to Christian. I can say that if he is a loner, then I know why, because I tend to be a bit like that on movie sets. I just find that I tend to do my work quicker and better when I don’t get too pally with everybody.

You were born in Wales but have lived in may other countries. Do you still feel Welsh?
Lowri Jenkins, South Wales

I was born in Wales, but I really grew up primarily in England in various towns. I’ve been back on a few occasions, but I’m sure most people don’t have much memory of their life before they were two years old and I left Wales when I was two. I just tend to get called a Welsh actor very often and that’s fine by me.

Christian, what do you really think of Huey Lewis And The News? Are you a fan of the group?
Jack Murphy, Chicago, Illinois

I think they were masters of their craft. I think they definitely explored new territory in music.

A rumour clarification: is it true that you were approached to star as Bruce Wayne in Batman Year One?
Matt Walker, Tunbridge Wells

I do know that there are plans to make Batman Year One and, as far as I know, Darren Aronofsky is going to be making it. It sounds very interesting. But have I been offered it? No, I haven’t.

What are your most vivid memories of making Empire Of The Sun (1987)?
Irmy, via E-MailBuddy Mason, London

There was one vast set in Spain which was just incredible. I think it still stands as one of the best movie sets ever built. Making movies is often just larking about as kids – y’know, stupid little imaginative stories that you come out with and re-enact, and often it does come down to that. Especially so being 13 years old and having the run of this whole village down in Spain. It was remarkable, and it was something that I didn’t entirely appreciate until a few years later.

What fascinated you the most about Patrick Bateman when preparing for the role?
Nikola Grozdanovic, Yugoslavia

Hmm, interesting… I never went into serious human motivation with Bateman, he was always a kind of abstract figure, like he says himself. It was his certainty and knowledge of his life, the clarity of it, that sends him crazy, not the confusion of it. It’s not that he’s unfocused, he knows exactly what he is. The best note that Mary (Harron), the director, gave me was viewing Bateman as an alien who had landed on the planet and who was trying to fit in with humanity. But knowing all the time you never can truly be one of them.

Whether you like it or not, you’re destined to be a major star – are you ready for that?
Darlyn Elmore, San José, USA

What I am ready for is just to be able to have more choice. That is what I am looking for. If, as Darlyn says, that means being a star, then absolutely, if I can get more variety of choice and characters.

How did the Nazi-themed subject matter of Swing Kids (1993) affect you?
Kelly Gateson, vie E-Mail

I felt primarily with that script that the thing that should have been shown was the seduction, the intelligence of evil, and how without thinking they’re doing anything bad, people can become the sculptors of evil. That I think is fascinating.

Did you enjoy doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), and would you like to do more Shakespeare?
Phillip Logan, Northumberland

I don’t have a driving urge to do more Shakespeare. I never really did it in school too much and I have to admit I suffer from the same feeling that, I think, millions of school kids probably throughout the world have, in that there’s something that clicks in your brain that says you should learn it, therefore it is somehow difficult to make it enjoyable. That said, in the small role (Demetrius) I had in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I did get quite comfortable with it. My feeling on that is that there are so many people who love Shakespeare, who live it, breathe it and have studied it for many years, and who feel that doing Shakespeare is demonstrating the height of their acting skills… I don’t feel that myself so I feel they should probably be doing it.

What do you really think of the Baleheads, your internet-based fans?
Emily Concannon, Newton, Massachusetts, USA

I feel like I’ve got a great army of supporters. I feel really flattered. I have a web site that is authorised by me. When it was started, I think i was only the third actor to have a web site. I have not really been on the cutting edge of computer technology. However, it was pointed out to me that his was a way in which people would go and get information and I wouldn’t have to do an awful lot of interviews. This was at a time, about five or six years ago, when I just couldn’t accept that being an actor meant doing interviews and I just kicked against it all the time. Then, inevitably, there was nothing about me anywhere. I was then surprised to see the popularity of the site because I had no idea that so many people appreciated movies that I had done. It was quite an amazing thing to discover.

In your inteview on the American Psycho DVD, you still speak with an American accent. Do you like to stay ‘in character’ as much as possible while making a film?
Amy, Stoke Newington

I tend not to consider it staying in character. That’s kind of a vague description that I don’t fully understand. With accents, certainly, I prefer to maintain them just because it’s easier. Once you get familiar with it, you don’t have to think about it, you can do the scene as you would do it in your own accent. I have no particular style as an actor whatsoever. My method is just whatever I feel is necessary on the day, as long as you’re not treading on other actors’ toes. It can be nothing or the most intense, bizarre preparations you’ve ever seen.

What do you remember about your rooftop shagging scene with Ewan McGregor in Velvet Goldmine?
Fran Russell, Preston

It was bloody cold, that’s what I remember mainly. It was not romantic. Everyone was havin’ a laugh, everyone except Ewan and me. No, we had a laugh as well, actually. (Laughs) They constantly played a joke on us, in that with every single take, they wouldn’t shout, “Cut!” We were left there, being professionals, not looking at camera, keeping on going until we heard “cut”. Meanwhile, the director’s just whispered to the cameraman, “Turn it off.” And Ewan or would eventually say, “Oh God, I can’t keep going any longer. Have a look to see if they’re done.” You would turn round and look and they would all cheer and applaud.

What kind of training did you do with the British Army for Captain Corelli?
David Ruddock, Manchester

There was historical work – I wasn’t informed very much about Greece and World War II. And then the basics of combat. We decided to learn too much, so that if the director decided he needed me to blow up a convoy of vehicles, I’d know how to do it. They taught me the quickest way of stealing guns and ammunitions, of cutting boots off. Slitting throats as well. It was quite gruesome stuff but, in reality, it is what they would have done.

Is it true you were given three pizzas at the wrap party of American Psycho?
Danny Perlman, Edinburgh

No, it was not at the wrap party, it was at the wrap in Toronto. They bought loads of pizzas and I just stuffed my face, totally gorged. It had all been about denial so much, it just all became about consumption.

Was there any truth in the rumours surrounding you playing Anakin Skywalker in Episode II?
Dave Laing, Braintree

I wish there had been is the short answer to that. I was told that I was too old. If you think about it, Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace is considerably younger than Queen Amidala, and obviously he has to stay that much younger than Natalie Portman. It would have been fantastic, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I hope that whoever got the role truly appreciates it.

Bret Eston Ellis’ 1998 novel, Glamorama, spookily refers to a shady character known as a “Christian Bale lookalike”. Does this flatter or frighten you?
Becky Reed, via E-Mail

I think the character is actually called the “Christian Bale-type guy”. And he does actually pretend to be Christian Bale. I first found out about this before American Psycho, when I went to dinner with Bret. Just at the end of the dinner, he stopped and said (adopts writery voice), “Anyway, I’ve just finished my new book. There’s a character in it I’ve called the ‘Christian Bale-type guy’ and I’m not sure I’m going to keep that in because a lot of people may think it’s a little bit contructed.” I haven’t got round to reading the whole book yet. But I must admit to having had a little bit of a flick through, and there are a couple of very funny lines: at one point, a femail character says to this guy, “love your work in Newsies and Swing Kids,” and Bret adds, “she said without irony”. When I met him again I said, “Ahh, very nice, that ‘without irony’ piece.” And he said, “No, no, no, I love those movies. You know I didn’t mean it.” I will read the rest of the book soon.

So, what style of business card do you have?
Tim Peel, via E-Mail

I’m proud to say I am the owner of no business cards whatsoever. No raised lettering, no pale nimbus whites, nothing.

By Ian Freer.