Stuff (August 2002)


In American Psycho, women loved Christian Bale despite all the dead hookers. Now, in Reign of Fire, he’s surrounded by dead dragons. Will this only make women love him more? Probably.

“I hope I don’t get hemorrhoids from it,” says Christian Bale as we meet and shake hands in a hotel bar. I look down at my fingers, but he’s referring to our photo shoot, where we had him sit on a block of ice for five hours. You know, for birth-control purposes. Oh, and also to get a cool picture.

At the time, I didn’t think Bale was too bothered by it. After all, the wacky Welshman is not unfamiliar with odd forms of punishment: He starred in Newsies, a musical so overdosed in saccharin it blew out the pancreas of anyone who watched it twice, plus he played the voice of a guy in Pocahontas. And five hours on ice is hardly worse than his role as the conflicted, apparently unemployable son of a single mother in Mary, Mother of Jesus. What was that about? Then he did this tightie-whitie-wearing, Phil Collins–loving freak thing in American Psycho. But this summer, Christian puts his fabulous abs behind a really good and just cause: ridding the world of fire-breathing dragons in spite of PETA’s protests. So you’d think he’d appreciate the ice on his butt. But no. He told me that he wants to become a U.S. citizen so he can start punching people. In other words, Christian Bale’s ambition is to become an American psycho. Again.

Dawn: So…let’s see. How exactly is your butt?

Christian: It was very damp. I had to blow-dry my own underwear.

Couldn’t the photo assistant do that for you?

Well, I’d only just met the person. I didn’t want to chuck them my undies.

I’m sure the female publicists I met with wouldn’t have minded.

Really? It’s always kind of bizarre when you hear people saying things like that, because you know yourself to be the true prat and dork that you are.

You’re a prat? Are you sure?

Everybody is, essentially. There are an awful lot of people who are very happy to have their private lives become incredibly public. I think it’s the opposite of what you should do, so people can still enjoy your movies.

Has fame warped you?

Well, my point is this: If it had, I wouldn’t tell you.

You just did, in your own magical way. So, in Reign of Fire, dragons take over modern-day earth and your character tries to save the world. Any cool battle scars?

I had a huge welt on my head at one point. I looked like John Merrick from The Elephant Man. During a fight scene, [Matthew McConaughey] has to head-butt me, and I punch his gut. But when he head-butted me, he really brained me. The crack was like a watermelon splitting in half. But we kept going, and that was the shot. He really head-butted me. I dropped like a sack of potatoes.

You have been called one of the most powerful cult figures of the past decade. Does that mean you can bench-press a lot?

I read a description once of how to become a cult figure, and it basically said: “Go out of your way to fail at everything that you do, but do it with such intense passion that people believe in your failings – and then you will achieve cult status.”

Did you have trouble with women after American Psycho?

No. Actually, the first thing that my wife ever saw of me was a picture from that movie. I think I was kind of standing naked, covered in blood, with a chainsaw. And at that moment she went, “He’s the one.” So, no, it didn’t have that effect at all.

Naked and bloody – I’d say “marriage material” too!

American Psycho does enjoy some quite hard-core, loyal followers. Whilst [my character, Patrick Bateman] is incredibly vile, he does have a certain charm. People are attracted to somebody who has great conviction in what they say, even if it’s a load of crap. When I first went to Wall Street, a few people shook my hand and went, “You know, Patrick Bateman is my hero.”

That’s really disturbing.

It is. But I encouraged it. That world is so alien to me. I kind of have a phobia of offices and things like that.

Is it the staplers?

It’s the organization, the scheduling.

What kind of research did you do for that role? Did you kill anybody?

I did look at some serial-killer books. But if you check a [large] number of them out from the library, it goes straight through to the FBI. So I’m sure my name is on their list.

Who was the last person you wanted to hit?

I don’t know. I guess I’ve been trying to curb my instincts. There is a burden of being a foreigner when you don’t have citizenship. I’ll get it eventually, and then, man, I’ll let off some steam.

You know, I’ve never hit anybody, not even my brother.

It’s never too late to start.

I would like to hit him, actually.

Buy a pair of boxing gloves. When you feel like hitting somebody, smack him. I bought [my wife] a pair of boxing gloves, and it’s great for resolving those little silly arguments.

You’ve said of your sex scene with Ewan McGregor in Velvet Goldmine: “I took it like a man. He was really tender, very caring. He hugged me afterward. But he never writes. God damn him!”

We’ve resolved that difference. He writes now. The director had a lot of fun with that scene. He purposely whispered, “Cut,” and sat back with the cast, arms folded, and Ewan was behind me going, “This is ridiculous. I would’ve come by now. How ’bout you?” And finally we looked over and realized that they’d stopped filming.

You’re a vegetarian, right?

No, I eat chicken and fish. My belief is that I don’t like other people to do my dirty work. I’ll kill a fish, so I can eat a fish. But [my theory] is untested because I haven’t killed a chicken. One day I will.

You could have any woman, plus you’re richer than God. What advice can you give our readers?

I don’t think I want to give any words of wisdom to those freaks. They seem twisted enough.

By Dawn Yanek.