Latino Review (October 4th, 2004)

CHRISTIAN BALE ON BATMAN AND MACHINIST

Christian Bale has always been one to immerse himself in his roles. American Psycho had him buff up with ripped abs and bulging biceps. Conversely, The Machinist had him wither down to a skeleton. The upcoming Batman Begins required him to bulk up again immediately after wasting away to 121 pounds, but Bale is willing to suffer for his art.

“There are some movies where you don’t really have to do anything,” Bale said. “It doesn’t matter what somebody looks like at all. And then some like this, The Machinist, and like American Psycho where I think that it was very essential, it’s a very important part of the person’s character. And it’s a very helpful thing because obviously with acting, you can just fake it, but with anything physical, you have to really do it. And it’s quite amazing how much your own physical state affects your mental state.”

Whether it’s losing weight to play a machinist or gaining it to play a superhero, the physical rigor becomes a mental process for Bale. “I’m not somebody that really enjoys going and working out in the gym. I don’t really enjoy it to be honest, so you have to psychologically will yourself to be doing that in a very intense fashion, but I’m better at that. I prefer doing things in a very intense way and having a deadline and really having to strive to reach it rather than just sort of having a general lifestyle of fitness. For me, I prefer to do it for a while and then just forget the whole thing for a while as well. But ultimately, obviously acting can involve physical change, but that’s not really what the whole thing’s about. It’s exceptional parts where you have to do that and primarily it’s correct to be focused more on the psychological side of things and there’s far more depth and interest to that than anything you can ever achieve physically.”

That said, the Batmobile sure sounds cool. “I think they did a really wonderful job with it. I’m quite in awe of the men who engineered and designed the whole thing because I’m not really good at any of that kind of thing. And they created actually a one of a kind car that can actually genuinely do all of the things in the movie. That was very much the aim of everybody on the set, that we wanted to use as little CGI or models as possible.”

There were actually several Batmobiles, one for each stunt the car was required to do. “They all do different things. There are a number of different ones, but they all do everything that you see it do in the movie.”

Bale indicated that the film is not as gadget heavy as its predecessors, but will explain how Bruce Wayne/Batman came to use all of his wonderful toys. “We have the introduction of how he acquires all of these. We’re very much interested in looking into the hows Bruce Wayne manages to acquire everything. And I guess there’s a grappling gun which is the kind of most commonly used one. That was the one I actually had in hand each and every day.”

In movies like The Machinist and American Psycho, Bale is dealing with internal conflicts that only sometimes manifest themselves outwardly. In big budget studio films like Batman or Reign of Fire, it’s mostly outer conflicts with dragons or supervillains. Bale recognizes the different requirements each type of film has with him.

“It’s different acting challenges. I think that there are appropriate styles of acting for differing movies. I’m somebody who enjoys many different kinds of movies and I think that ultimately my first love really probably would be more akin to The Machinist. I just enjoy the actual work on them. But I enjoy the challenge as well of looking at other kinds of movies and seeing if we’re able to manage them.”

But is there pressure to carry a major blockbuster, especially a reinvention of a franchise where the previous entries have been looked down upon? “I didn’t feel it.”