Boston Herald (June 9th, 2005)


Christian Bale wasn’t the first choice to be the new Bruce Wayne/Batman.

There was Jake Gyllenhaal, who also had been targeted briefly to play Spider-Man, and Cillian Murphy, who now plays the villainous Scarecrow instead.

But now everyone agrees that Bale, the Welsh actor who dropped from 180 pounds to an emaciated 120 for ”The Machinist,” is ideal for “Batman Begins” (opening Wednesday).

“It started when I was given a graphic novel of ‘Arkham Asylum’ in about 2000,” Bale said.”I kind of begrudgingly read it, because I just had never been into comic books.”

But soon he’d read all the graphic novels with the newly conceived Batman.

“I realized that he was a really great character, a dark, severe character unlike anything I had realized he could be before.”

Then director Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) was given the franchise, which to Bale indicated that the studio didn’t want to do the same old thing.

“By the time I actually came to be cast, I’d kind of gotten so obsessive about it that I kind of viewed it as being mine already,” Bale said. “If they’d have told me, ‘No, it’s not yours,’ I would have been like, ‘No, that’s not going to happen!’ ”

Following Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney as modern-day Batmans, Bale had a Batsuit built for him.

“Standing there in the (costume), I felt like an idiot on his way to a Halloween party,” Bale said. “And that’s the way that he’s often been portrayed, you know, the way that it had gone with some of the movies, with these little one-liners and quips. It just wasn’t savage enough for what to me the Batsuit felt like; it had to be his demonic incarnation, the way that he channeled all of his negative emotions and rage. Only that way was he able to function in regular society as Bruce Wayne.”

Once Bale was cast, training began. After his “Machinist” experience, he had regained the weight but not his strength.

“I couldn’t do a single push-up,” he said.

After training, Bale, 31, had bulked up to more than 200 pounds.

The key to “Batman Begins” is telling how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman.

Given that this film is “Batman Begins,” will Bale do “Batman Continues”?

“I’ve signed on for another one already, but they’re not gonna be asking me to do it if people don’t like this one.”

By Stephen Schaefer.