TV Guide (July 2002)

CHRISTIAN BALE VS. LEO DICAPRIO!

For years, we’ve heard buzz of professional rivalry between Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. Recall that Bale nearly lost American Psycho to DiCaprio, until the Titanic star passed on playing serial killer Patrick Bateman. More recent gossip had Leo up for Bale’s leading part in this year’s sci-fi thriller Equilibrium. Are these actors at war?

“To be honest, it’s pushing it a little bit to say we’re in competition for roles,” Bale chuckles to TV Guide Online. “I have to accept the fact that [DiCaprio] has a vast choice compared to me. Absolutely, he does. I have no ‘competition’ with him on that level whatsoever.

“He was interested in American Psycho,” Bale acknowledges. “Well, you know what? He’s a smart guy. He should be; it’s a great script. But that’s where it ends. I’ve met him a couple of times — we got on just fine. We almost worked together! I would love to say that we’re in competition constantly, but I think he’s a little bit more in demand.”

Hmm… that may change if Leo’s Gangs of New York shipwrecks like The Beach did. Meanwhile, our fave Christian soldier battles fire-breathing dragons — and Matthew McConaughey! — in Reign of Fire (opening July 12). Bale admits he and the Wedding Planner star really pumped iron to play dragon slayers — and also were coated with dirt and spritzed to sweaty, sinewy perfection by studio stylists.

Their fistfight — before their characters join forces against the world’s worst case of chronic halitosis — was real, Bale insists. “Matthew and I looked at each other and went, ‘Let’s make it as dirty as possible and also let’s really go for it,'” he explains. “Matthew headbutted me and I ended up with a huge welt above my left eye. Absolutely real.”

Surprisingly, all that bonafide bruising didn’t lead to serious set side tensions. “I hit the deck after he headbutted me,” Bale recalls. “I stood right back up, I got in a genuine punch to get him back and we kept on going and played out the whole scene. At the end of it, I was fine; I wanted to know that he was alright. I’m very happy that’s the shot that’s in the movie. There’s no faking it whatsoever.”

By Daniel R. Coleridge.