Q&A: CHRISTIAN BALE ON ‘REIGN OF FIRE’
Christian Bale, star of the dragon slaying action flick Reign of Fire talks about his foray into the world of sci-fi, and his first impressions of the PS2 game.
Are you a big gaming fan?
I tend to go through phases when I get really addicted to games, mainly because nowadays the games take so much time to get through. The problem with that is that you don’t have a social life when you’re engaged in games like that.
So we take it you have a PlayStation 2, then.
Yes, I’ve got a PS2. And coming to shows like E3 I get some nice gaming perks… [displays bag of gaming booty]
What do you make of the Reign of Fire game on PS2?
Well, I just played it for the first time about half an hour ago and it looks great. It reflects the set we were filming on, so it takes me right back. The game’s a little different in that it features the smaller raptor animals which we don’t have in the film. From what I’ve seen, I think it’s a really good game, although it takes a while to adjust to the controls, but I find that’s the case with any decent game. The ones you pick up straight away get dull very quickly. It’s looking great.
I haven’t had a crack at playing one of the dragons yet – I’ve only played one of the men – but I think that’s the bit everyone’s going to want to play. I think they’re gonna bring the disc round when I’ve finished so I can have a go at playing a dragon and burn up all of the humans.
We know a little about the movie but there hasn’t been much hype about it yet. Why did you choose to do this film?
I haven’t done anything like this before, and I don’t like to get pigeonholed for doing one kind of movie or another. I often find with these big, fantastical movies which feature a lot of special effects, that I’ve often come away thinking “Fantastic effects – but why the hell didn’t they work a bit more on the characters and the story?” So when Rob Bowman [the director] sent me the script I met up with him. I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to change, and he had things he wanted to change. That gave me a good signal that we wanted to make exactly the same movie. I’d seen his X-Files movie, and what I liked about that was that it avoided all the clichés you usually get with those kind of big movies. We avoided those clichés with this movie, too.
Has Reign of Fire given you a taste for doing more blockbuster movies?
I’ve always set out with the idea of doing as wide a variety of movies as possible. Obviously, with a movie of this size, it really helps you get other work – so hopefully that means I can do the big movies and then I’ll be in a position to be able to head off and do a little independent movie as well.
Are you a fan of the sci-fi genre?
Yeah, if it’s done well. I’m a fan of any genre if it’s done well, but so often that’s not the case.
Reign of Fire is quite unusual in that it’s set in the UK rather than the US…
Right, why was that? I’ve no idea – good question!
… and conveniently for you that meant you didn’t have to put on an accent.
That’s true. I’m constantly playing other nationalities in my films.
Have you seen the final film yet?
No, not yet but I’ve seen some scenes which are looking really good. They’re still working on some of the visual effects at the moment.
Did you have to spend months and months acting to sticks in the air, where special effects would be added later?
It actually wasn’t that monotonous at all. I really thought it would be a bit trying, having spoken to other actors who’d done special effects movies before and who’d said they’re not a lot of fun. They said I’d be stood on a stage in front of a blue screen for hours on end. But luckily the technology has improved a lot and I didn’t have to do that – I ended up in front of a blue screen only twice and for very short scenes. Once you get into acting in that way, it’s not that tricky.
Are the dragons just CG creations?
There was a mix. There was a huge dragon model on set for the bit where we’ve brought the dragon down, as well as others lying around set. The model was fantastic – it wasn’t just this solid thing lying there, it was actually quite fleshy and horrible. There’s a scene where I have to dig my entire arm right inside the beast’s belly and it actually had all kinds of goo and eggs and stuff inside!
Your character discovers the dragons, right?
He’s the one that starts the whole thing, yeah, and he grows up into a very troubled man. Matthew McConaughey plays an insane American veteran who appears with his crew out of the middle of nowhere. My character has found a 13th century castle – one of the only buildings remaining – and has modified it and gathered a community inside which is trying to survive in the devastation. Matthew’s character arrives and kind of forces me to let him in, and we find ourselves locked in battle from there onwards. Essentially we’ve got the common pursuit of survival between us but he wants to head to London and kill the main dragon whereas my character knows that’s impossible – I have to persuade him to stay well clear. Matthew plays the cigar-chomping guy who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow!
What other projects do you have lined up?
I’m talking with a couple of producers about some projects that will hopefully get going fairly soon. Also coming up is a movie called Equilibrium, which is coming out just after Reign of Fire – that’s another sci-fi movie. It’s like Brave New World mixed with action. I play a law enforcement officer in a society where psychiatric drugs have been forced on the entire population. Various circumstances occur and I rediscover my emotions – I miss my dose and discover a whole different outlook on life.
Do you think Equilibrium would make a viable game?
I don’t know if they have any plans to do that. But a videogame where you get to take drugs… hmm, I guess that would be massively popular!