Atnzone.com (2002)

CHRISTIAN BALE’S NEW REIGN

He’s one of the most downloaded men on the Internet. He’s was named by “Entertainment Weekly Magazine” as one of the “Most Creative People in Entertainment”; “Premiere Magazine” hailed him as one of the “Hottest Leading Men Under 30” and “Interview Magazine” dubbed him one of the “Most Wanted Actors of the New Millennium.” In a decade-plus career spanning a variety of versatile roles, Welsh born Christian Bale was first introduced to audiences in Steven Spielberg’s WWII epic, ‘Empire of the Sun’. He was handpicked by Winona Ryder to break hearts opposite her in ‘Little Women’ and he garnering praise for anumber of memorable performances following “Women”. But it was his gruesomely comic turn as a fashion-conscious serial killer in ‘American Psycho’ that caught everyone’s attention, including critics who unanimously acclaimed the young actor for his brave performance.

Standing over 6 feet tall, Bale is affable, charismatic and handsome, not in a threatening way, though. Now making Los Angeles home where he lives with filmmaker wife, Sibi, and dogs, Christian is active supporting various animal rights causes and was recently named to the Honorary Board of Directors of Ark Trust.

Now starring as Quinn, a fire chief responsible for warding off fire-breathing dragons and keeping a small community alive in ‘Reign of Fire’, Bale provides a realistic portrayal of a futuristic hero. His methods are to wait out the dragons – if humans can survive as the dragons die off. But enter Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), an aggressive American dragon-slayer. And the battle begins.

So what was it about this movie that interested you?

Firstly, I was kind of surprised that they were interested in me for it because it isn’t like any kind of movie I had done before. I’ve also enjoyed going to huge action movies before with lots of special effects, but have thought that the special effects have often got in the way of any kind of story. When I met with Rob (Bowman/director), he had all of the same concerns that I did about what could go wrong but found he had a strong sense of how to direct this. I was fearful that CGI would put in friendly dragons or dragons with hats on or dragons that talked and that I wouldn’t have control over that whatsoever – ultimately mortified when the movie would come out. But with Rob, we sort of made a pact that we would do this as long as we could ensure we got to make the sort of movie he wanted to make.

Had it always been a childhood dream to be a dragon slayer?

What I found that I actually enjoyed is that I didn’t realize I would actually like the action of it all.

Where there any injuries?

There were some. Matthew head butted me in a phenomenal fashion one time and it’s actually in the movie. I came up with a huge welt on my forehead and everybody said it sounded like some huge watermelon cracking. But I was happy to be head butted for it – it was a fun sequence and we said to each other beforehand to try and make it as dirty as possible because fight sequences are often so clean in movies. So we really went for it, rolling down hills and smacking our heads on boulders. Then we stood up and in a moment, Matthew just head butted me, but it was great. We only had to do that in one take.

Quinn is a quiet superhero of sorts. Did you have a favorite superhero growing up?

As a kid, I don’t remember his name. I like the big brick guy – just the visual thing of him being made out of bricks intrigued me. And I guess when I first read one of the graphic “Batman” novels and saw the dark, twisted side of that character, it intrigued me.

Did you have to work out very much for this role or are you in pretty good shape generally?

I tend to be kind of obsessive about that; it is really all or nothing. With ‘Reign’ I actually turned up in Ireland and I had been kind of dieting because I though we should all be painfully skinny. But then I got there and had a few weeks of rehearsals and realized that Van Zan was going to be a pretty big guy and I had to look like I could compete with him somehow. So I went into manic training for a couple of weeks. Then when I saw Matthew I said “Oh my God” so I worked out like crazy a couple of weeks.

Did life change very much for you after American Psycho? Did you have any sort of weird reactions from people on the street?

No, actually in everyday life, it doesn’t happen. I mean, the fact that so many people seem to be fans of it and enjoyed the movie, I’m glad when anybody does say that they appreciate it. It was a difficult movie to get made. But in terms of work, it did change things. I am sure I wouldn’t have been offered this role if it hadn’t been for American Psycho because it created some kind of awareness that I hadn’t had previously.

Your next project is ‘Laurel Canyon’. Can you talk a bit about that film?

I made that movie after ‘Reign of Fire’. It’s directed by Lisa Cholodenko who did High Art. It’s with Frances McDormand and Kate Beckinsale. It was ideal coming out of making ‘Reign of Fire’ because it was entirely opposite to the action film. Going from such action and sci-fi to utterly everyday real characters was great. I play the son of an eccentric record producer (McDormand) and his form of rebellion growing up around sex, drugs and rock n’roll.

You’ve turned down obvious roles in the past?

There have been some but it’s not as if I have had incredible choices. Has there been talk about ‘Reign of Fire’ 2? It’s kind of been joked about. I bought a house after doing Reign of Fire and they went `Oh great, we have him for the sequel’. But other than that, nobody has mentioned anything (laugh).

You do live in Los Angeles now?

I do actually live here but I moved around an awful lot when I was growing up so I have always kind of been able to settle wherever I fancy. I am not really bothered.

Anything coming up?

I did ‘Equilibrium’ but it’s been delayed in release. So, no I don’t have anything I’m working on now… guess I better, huh (laugh).

By Bonnie Siegler.