US (July 22nd, 2002)

THE NEXT ACTION HERO?

This Welsh-born heartthrob has done pretty much everything on screen, including killing prostitutes with a chain saw (American Psycho) and having sex with Ewan McGregor (Velvet Goldmine). On top of that, his mother was briefly a circus performer and his stepmother is feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Now he’s fighting dragons with Matthew McConaughey in Reign of Fire, opening on July 12. “Nothing against Pete’s Dragon,” says Bale, 28, “but [Fire] is the first decent dragon movie that I’ve ever seen.”

How did your wife Sibi (Blazic, a movie producer) like your beard in the movie?

She loves it. She loves the scraggy, long-haired, bearded guys. That’s how I looked when I first met her, so I’ve got to contend with that.

Does she like being married to a sex symbol?

Man, she puts me in my place. Christ. She’s the sexy one. She walks into a room and lights it up. I try to avoid everybody.

Is it true you went vegetarian after your sister read Charlotte’s Web to you when you were 6?

I eat fish and chicken. My premise behind it is moral. My philosophy is if I’m starving, I’ll eat anything. But we have a huge luxury in this country where we get to choose. I can’t stand the thought of slaughterhouses.

Can looks get in an actor’s way?

The more apt word is vanity. If people are too vain, they’re not going to be able to play roles. And you know what? I want those roles people are too vain to take. For me, the first thing about being an actor is being prepared to make a fool out of yourself.

By Matthew Graham.