Chicago Sun Times (November 19th, 2004)

A CRASH BUT NO TICKETS FOR BALE’S BATMOBILE IN CHICAGO

Midnight in Chicago on a hot summer night. Batman is cruising Lower Wacker Drive and KAPOW! Some joker — a motorist not involved in the filming – swerves into the movie set and side swipes the Batmobile! Holy fender bender!

“In the middle of the night, a regular civilian guy crashed into the Batmobile. He panicked and later told the cops that he saw us and thought aliens were landing or something. That’s how shocked he was to see the Batmobile. His foot just hit the accelerator,” says actor Christian Bale, the man who is the new Caped Crusader in “Batman Returns,” due out in 2005.

Of the Bat-bashing incident, he muses, “I wonder what this guy will tell his insurance agent. It will go down as one of the classic claims of all time.”

Other Bale Bat-nuggets:

* He enjoyed his time in town filming “Batman Returns” last summer, but he didn’t appreciate the chafing. “I spent about three weeks inChicagolast July doing night shoots. It’s a great city, but the humidity was tough under the Batsuit. Uh, it got a little bad. It’s hot enough in the Batsuit, let alone in theChicagoheat.”

* He givesChicagothe Mr. Clean seal of approval. “We shot on Lower Wacker, downtown and on rooftops. What shocked me the most isChicagois such a clean city. I haven’t seen a cleaner one except forAustralia,” he marvels.

* TheChicagocops won’t stop you if you’re speeding in the Batmobile. “I never got to drive the Batmobile downMichigan Avenue. They were concerned about the proximity of people. I did drive in more remote locations around the city and I went fast. No ticket, but I never got to drive the Batmobile to these places. It was quicker to load it onto a truck than have the Batmobile go screaming through town.”

* He got the coveted role of the Caped Crusader by asking for it. “I contacted them. I heard they were doing some low-budget Batman not aimed at kids and I was tantalized,” Bale says. “I had appreciated the Batman movies, but I wasn’t really a fan and I didn’t know the TV series. But I read some of the graphic novels and they were very dark and very interesting.” Bale was almost disappointed to find out this Batman film wasn’t some low-budget number. “I said, ‘It’s big-budget, OK, then it won’t happen the way I want it to happen. Forget it.'” He changed his mind when he found out that Christopher Nolan (“Memento,” “Insomnia”) was directing. “We clicked and hopefully we’ve made something very different.”

* His Batman kicks butt. “I’ve never felt like the Batman character in the films was given as much time as any of the villains. The villains were always the most interesting characters, too. Batman has always been this very bizarre, almost blind character running through the middle of the story,” Bale says. “Our film is different.” Ask him about his Batman and he laughs. “Talk about an American psycho. The guy is running around in a cape.”

* He will give up a few more on-set secrets. “Our Batman is centered on the early days. It’s an explanation. It’s certainly not Batman No. 5,” he promises. “It’s a reinvention. We want you to forget there has ever been a Batman before this one.”

Yeah, but is there even a Robin? “Well, I think I should keep some things up my sleeve.”

By Cindy Pearlman.