(September 15th, 2004)


Christian Bale, who stars as Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Batman Begins movie, told Sci Fi Wire that he’s taking a fresh approach to the iconic character, playing him with a feral duality that adds reality to the comic-book mythology. Bale even uses one voice for Wayne and a different, coarser baritone for the caped crusader, who comes into being after Wayne vows to avenge the murders of his parents. Bale spoke in an interview Sept. 14 during a break in filming on the movie’s massive Gotham City set outside London.

“I just saw it as a way of him being able to channel the clarity of mind that he must have had as a young boy when he first declared that he would get revenge,” Bale said. “It’s very difficult to maintain that throughout your life. It becomes a memory, and you know it takes a great deal of energy to maintain that sharpness of emotion. So I just felt that everything about him should become different [when he becomes Batman]. The look. The voice. And also see that he’s able to have his own life, somewhat [when he’s Wayne]. Because it seemed to me that if he was just going to be Bruce Wayne in a batsuit, first of all, that seemed a little bit ridiculous to me. It would have been as ridiculous as any of us getting into a batsuit and genuinely thinking we could go out on the town and intimidate people. I think most people would probably laugh, you know? So you have to kind of really go for it in every way. And for me that kind of, you know, involved taking on a slightly beastlike voice, as I hear it.”

As for the newly designed suit, Bale said that it helped him get a feel for the caped crusader, whom he characterizes as “a creature” that is not quite human. “I felt like a panther the first day, you know?” Bale said, referring to the first shooting day he strode on stage in full Batman regalia. “I did feel like some kind of wild animal. I don’t know if anybody else was looking at me like that way [laughs]. I don’t know if I appeared quite as ferocious as I felt that I did. But I really felt like everybody was kind of looking at me [mimes backing away in fear], you know, jumpy. And… it makes you feel, you know, like that, you want to kind of run and jump at people and beat the crap out of them. And… you know, it just gives you this great neck and this physique that just looks intimidating. It’s all kind of aggressive. It’s all pointing forward. It’s very much like a predator. And that was a thrill, doing that.”

Bale demurred when asked about the suit’s comfort. “No, I’m not going to bitch about the suit,” he said. Last month Bale was quoted in the British Daily Telegraph saying that the suit was uncomfortable, prompting some of the U.K.-based wardrobe crew to create T-shirts with a joking reference to his quote. “There’s a quote from me that some of the people have on the back of their T-shirts that says, ‘It’s hot, dark, …sweaty, [claustrophobic,] and it gives me a headache.’ Which is absolutely true, but there’s nothing more annoying than hearing actors bitch about their work and stuff like that, you know? I’m playing Batman, for God’s sake. That’s pretty fantastic. I’m not going to complain about getting a little bit sweaty. And also, they’ve changed it so much, …so I hear, from the first movie that they made. And so even though it may not feel like the most comfortable outfit to me, I know that others have had it worse.” Batman Begins, which was on day 126 of a 128-day shoot, also stars Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon, Katie Holmes as Rachel, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane and Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al Ghul. Batman Begins, from director Christopher Nolan, is slated to open next summer.