CHRISTIAN BALE INTERVIEW TERMINATOR SALVATION
Opening this Friday is director McG’s “Terminator Salvation”. By now you’ve all seen the commercials and trailers, so I’m going to keep this intro brief. Also, if you’re reading Collider, you know who Christian Bale is, so I don’t think I need to remind too many people what movies he stared in.
Anyway, Warner Bros. recently held a press day for “Terminator Salvation” and I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Christian. During our twenty minutes he talked about making “Terminator Salvation”, “Public Enemies”, and how he’s training for his next possible film.[…]
What were your biggest challenges on this one?
That was the first question in the last room. I said I didn’t really have any, I have to say. Everyone asks if it was tough physically, but I’ve gone through ‘Batman’ and that’s way tougher.
So ‘Dark Knight’ in a way was preparation for this?
Yeah. If you think about it which I hadn’t done before you don’t get humans hand wrestling Terminators. You’re kind of lost by the time that you get to that situation. So it was really all weapons handling and I understand that. I don’t find that too tricky. I don’t look at this as something that was very challenging.
What do you think fans, the kids and the diehards are going to take from this movie?
I have no idea. I never try to guess what anyone else will take from a movie. Every movie is such a different experience for each and every person. I don’t like it when people try telling people what they should take from a movie. You should go see it with fresh eyes and see for themselves.
What appeal does this franchise have for you?
Well, it didn’t initially other than I enjoyed seeing the first one on video with a few friends. I really liked the second one. It had as much to do with the electric atmosphere in the theater when I saw it at seventeen, when I was first getting out to the states and I’d never been in a movie theater that had that much noise and excitement throughout the entire movie. Initially, when I heard of this I thought it was done, that there was no new story there to be told. Then I had the realization that I thought there could be something very good here. Then some people told me, ‘Yeah, you don’t want to touch that.’ Then I thought, ‘OK, I do want to touch that because why are they saying that?’ I hope that it will be a really fun, great movie trilogy if this one takes off and that we get to do a second or third, with me or not, whatever the scenario is. I think there is actually, in the hands of the right people, a real revival for this and an extension to an already good mythology.
Did you give any pause to being front and center in a second major franchise?
Any planning that I have in my career is totally accidental really. I tend not to fathom these notions until people like yourself bring them up for me. I certainly didn’t have any doubts or concerns about that. It just became something that over time grew to interest me because I certainly wasn’t interested to begin with. Then it began to interest me. In some ways that was another thing that some people were saying to me. ‘Why do you want to do that?’ That made me go, ‘I’m going to go do it now.’
I’ve heard that you said to McG that you wanted to get the script to a place where you could read it onstage –
No. That I said that?
That’s what McG said that.
McG said that. I never said that. This movie could never be done on a stage. Listen, I love that that’s what he’s aiming for, but between you and I, this could never be done on a stage. They wouldn’t want it to be. This is not Brecht or something. This is ‘Terminator’ and as much as people want to have some kind of human story and character in there, there must be, but what are people really going for? They’re going for a good time. They’re going in there to spend their ten bucks and really have a blast there. They want to see a roller coaster of a movie, want to be excited and want to leave feeling exhilarated. I don’t think you could do that onstage without all the machines and everything. That’s one of those things that I just kind of respectfully nodded to. ‘Yeah. Go for it.’ But those words never came out of my mouth.
But you felt that the script needed some work at the beginning and worked on it?
Well, I didn’t work on the script myself. Myself, like everybody else involved, said, ‘This is really what we want to see in another “Terminator” movie.’ Everyone agreed on that.
What gave you the confidence to get into that process in the first place if you weren’t that psyched about it in the first place?
Well, that was why I said no a few times. Then we just kind of struck a deal which with the writer’s strike and everything was a leap of faith because we knew that we’d struck a deal that the script would be written, but nothing could be done however long it was. I just couldn’t believe that it couldn’t become something that was worthy of people putting down ten bucks in a movie theater. So I did take a leap of faith with that. I did eventually say, ‘OK, come on. Lets go for it -’ without there being a script but just a few ideas around, some ideas of who they could hire as a writer. Again, I just sort of had this notion that, and maybe I should cut it out, when there are issues and problems and things that have to be overcome and I’ve got people looking at me going, ‘Why are you even going to take that risk? Why would you bother with that?’ Then a lot of other people saying to me, ‘Why would you be in that kind of movie? We don’t see that.’ I go, ‘Well, I really want to do it more the more that people say that.’ I like doing different styles of movies.
What was it like working with McG on a day to day basis?
I think he’s someone who probably drinks like a case of Red Bull before coming to work everyday. He’s probably the most extroverted and very appreciative directors. He loves rallying people. He loves involving the crew. It’s a talent that might not sound like a whole lot, but it really makes a big difference when you see the crew being appreciated the way that he does and him really enjoying each of their jobs. He’s a geek for the Terminator mythology. I mean, look, he’s asking for trouble just because he calls himself McG. He knows that. That’s not news to him. So he’s somebody who likes a bit of a battle and I think he’s pulled it off with this. I hope that people will agree. Sometimes, as an insider, you don’t see the woods for the trees, but I think he’s really pulled it off and given it an opportunity, a chance that it can expand and become better and better with some future movies.
What’s the next thing that people have been telling you not to do that you’re thinking of doing?
Well, I took quite a bit of time off and the one that I’m planning on doing, it’s not all…you know what? It’s probably better not to talk about it because it’s not absolutely green lit right now, but I’m oblivious to any kind of objections from anyone on that one because I love the story so much.
Are we talking possibly about ‘Fighters’ or ‘Prisoners’?
What is the status of those two projects?
I’m prepping. I just hope the movie happens.
What about another ‘Dark Knight’ movie?
Chris Nolan, a man of few words and I just know that it’s not really something that he loves when I go talking about it. That’s probably why he just keeps me in the dark.
You have ‘Public Enemy’ coming out this summer. What was that like?
That was wonderful. We shot that actually before ‘Terminator’. He’s got such a great approach to work, Michael Mann does. Such great thoroughness and detail and the bloody ESP he has in terms of working with the actors. Yeah, it was one of my best experiences.
That character is kind of a tragic figure.
Yeah, it certainly is. He’s a hero and very often when you get a hero you get tragedy. It’s true and I think the character is a fascinating one. It’s not to say that the movie is about him. It’s a supporting role. It’s definitely about Dillinger but I really became quite obsessed with the character because he was so interesting. It was very complex, what was going on with the birth of the FBI and the pain and there’s mistakes made. There were a great deal of challenges that he faced being the special agent in charge of the hardest city for crime in America at that time. And all these guys were so young. I mean, thirty years old I think it was when he got Dillinger and Dillinger himself was only thirty two.
Sam Worthington said he was nervous in the first couple of scenes he had with you. Did that show at all and what did you think about working with him?
I don’t think he’s telling the truth. It sounds like something he’s got used to saying or something. I didn’t see him nervous at all. In a very casual sense I asked that I at least be sort of consulted about who was going to be playing his character and there were quite a few people that they were considering. I watched a couple of the movies he’d made and I think he’s a fantastic actor. I think there’s the benefit that currently most people in the states aren’t familiar with him so you can really enjoy that performance that much more. He’s got so many movies that are coming out because so many people have realized that he’s bloody good and he really is. He’s a good guy and he’s straightforward and doesn’t behave like an actor. Once I’d seen his work and then met with him I said, ‘That’s it. You’ve got to cast him. He’s perfect.’
Were there any scenes that were really rigorous, ones that took a toll on your body?
Well, when they don’t position the harnesses correctly it can really hurt. You breakout in cold sweats and things. Those were a bit of the most painful things.
What percentage of the stunts did you do? Did you have a double?
I did pretty much all the stunts as I recall. It was a lot of jumping off things. But I had a good relationship with the stunt crew. I’ve worked with all before, the stunt coordinator. I’ve worked with him a few times and so I trust him. I know that if I go jumping off a three story cliff that they’re not going to let me smash into the ground at the bottom. So I did a fair amount. Time constraints meant that there were times that we had to have doubles, just because we didn’t have time to do it all.
And the driving, too?
I don’t really do any driving. I ride the motorcycle, but that’s about it. I did that.
Your character has the fate of the world has the weight of the world on his shoulders. How do you approach that?
Listen, man, I’ve got the weight of the world resting on my shoulders so I know all about that.
By Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub.
You can listen to the interview here.