INTERVIEW: CHRISTIAN BALE ON TERMINATOR SALVATION
Already heading the Batman franchise, Christian Bale is now taking on Terminator Salvation, in the role of John Connor.
Admittedly reluctant to take on the role initially, the actor collaborated with director McG to show what has become of modern civilization, now that Judgment Day has come and gone, John Connor’s fate is becoming realized, as he must battle the Terminators that are controlled by Skynet.
At the film’s press day, Christian Bale was tight-lipped about whether or not there will be a third Batman film, but did say that he hopes to make The Fighter, a look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother, who helped train him before going pro in the mid ‘80s.
How do you feel about being labeled as an intense actor?
I don’t really analyze each word. Whatever. People can label me whatever they want to label me. That’s there prerogative. I don’t actually have the same passionate feelings that Sam does about the word. I’m like, “Whatever. I don’t care.” Call me an a-hole. I’m all right. That’s fine. If that’s what you think of me, then that’s your right to think that of me.
You’re part of an enormous franchise with Batman, so it’s an interesting choice to go into another franchise. What did you see in this movie that you really wanted to be a part of?
I didn’t go straight into it. I did Public Enemies in between the two. I felt like the franchise was done, so when I first got sent the script, I didn’t have any interest. Then I got a creeping idea that there really was something good that could be told here. And, if that was going to happen, then absolutely, I wanted to be on board for it. I like mixing it up. I like doing The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and doing The Machinist and Public Enemies, and then doing Terminator. I enjoy that mix.
How does the physicality of these types of roles change your life?
It was not so intense on this one. Not nearly as intense as it was on Batman. It’s probably more intense for Sam because he’s somebody who actually could have a fist fight with a Terminator. But, as a human being you’re not having any fisticuff sessions with a Terminator. You get to that point and you’re probably just dead. So for me, it was mainly just weapons handling and preparation for that. We had a great advisor, who I spent a lot of time with. But, the physical challenge was not nearly tough as I thought it was going to be.
What was your relationship with McG like, on set? How did you collaborate with him on your character?
Initially, collaboration was just me saying, “No, I don’t want to do the movie.” Then, it was, “Why?” When people look at the franchise mythology and think it’s over, you’ve got to come back with something that really knocks people out. I just didn’t feel like it was there, but that was not just me. Everybody felt that. I really couldn’t see that it wouldn’t be able to get there. It just seemed crazy to me, that that wouldn’t be possible. So, I took a leap of faith because there was the writers’ strike. So, I said, “All right, we have a few points that we want to get across in another script that we want to have written. Let’s go after that.” Of course, a movie is collaboration, but a director has to have his own point of view. That is a director’s job. He creates the point of view, and he must have a strong point of view. He has to. He can’t be wishy washy. He creates a rhythm of the piece. So, you can’t have too many chiefs, otherwise the whole thing is going to be balls up. He’s obviously very open to ideas, but I like it when I’m hearing great ideas and then I’m just adding onto it, and making it something extra.
What was your reaction when you saw it all put together?
I saw a few different variations. Like with any movie, it goes through a lot of different shapes. But, ultimately, the last one I saw, I really felt satisfied. The public will decide. This isn’t a movie that you sit down and want to watch, as a personal 2 o’clock in the morning viewing. It’s not something in which you gaze into the human soul, and that speaks to you, in that way. It’s a movie that’s meant to be watched with a lot of different people, so that you can get that common energy. Movies like this are much like sports. It’s that feeling of a common excitement, throughout the theatre. That’s what I loved about seeing T2, and I think we might have a chance here. The people will decide, but I think we might have a chance of maybe having revived this, and being able to move on. We’ll see what happens about any future movies, if this one does well enough.
If you do another Terminator film, have you thought about where you’d like to see your character go, emotionally?
Any chance you might do a third Batman film?
You know, after making a number of blunders, I’ve learned that I do not answer that question until (director) Chris Nolan has answered that question.
Was the “I’ll be back” scene in the script? How was that to do?
That was actually something which a friend of mine, who came on as a writer for awhile, put in there. I would have liked him to have been around longer throughout the movie, but that was actually when Jon Nolan was on it briefly. He called me up and said, “Christian, I’ve got this idea and I want to run by you because you might just say, ‘No way!’ But, I just wanna hear your thoughts.” I thought, “You know what? Let’s try it. We can always cut it out.” My aim was to attempt to have it be such a logical answer to what I was asked, that hopefully people didn’t go, “What’s he doing an Arnie impression for?” I didn’t ever want it to come across as an impression. I just wanted it to be something where, ideally for me, a few seconds later, people who know the other movies go, “Wait a second! He just said the same line.” In that way, I felt comfortable.
You and Anton Yelchin have this weird time travel relationship, with Kyle Reese actually being the father of John Connor. How was that to develop, as actors?
I solved it by just not thinking about it too much. That was really the answer to it. As soon as you start getting into any kind of time travel, which we don’t have in this one because it’s before the days where that has been discovered, you can get into a complete mess with the movies. It just becomes limitless and completely confusing. That was fairly straightforward. I just didn’t think about it that much.
Was the helicopter scene done in one shot?
Well, that would be great wouldn’t it? Imagine if it was done in one shot. That would be fantastic! The camera didn’t ever pan off.
What was the most dangerous stunt you did in this?
The biggest adrenaline rush was actually a dive I had to make, down into a cavernous space. I had to drop a fair distance for that, but I had worked with all the stunt guys, the riggers, the stunt coordinators before, on a number of movies, and I know how good they are. It became just a heart-pounding rush. I’ve got to say, I didn’t find the stunts in this film real tricky.
Are you fearless?
I’m sure there are things I have a fear of, but just not things like that.
Did you shoot any scenes for this film that aren’t in the theatrical cut, but that might end up on the DVD?
I hate all the extras that you get on DVDs, like the deleted scenes and stuff. They’re deleted for a reason. Why show it? There’s that expression that you’ve got to kill your babies, sometimes, and that happens. Sometimes you do get some very good scenes, but they just don’t work in the rhythm of the movie. I’m pretty satisfied with what you see in this movie.
There were numerous reports of you being in Bartlesville, Oklahoma a few months ago. What were you doing there?
What do you mean? That’s offensive to Bartlesville. Who doesn’t want to go there? I was there, doing a little bit of location scouting and getting ideas for something that might happen.
There’s nothing further that you can add to that?
How are things going with The Fighter?
I hope that we’ll be making it.
You’ve been an actor a lot longer than you’ve been a star. With the current TMZ culture, are you concerned about it distracting people from your characters, on screen? Does it distract from your performance?
Christian: Not for me, it doesn’t, because I don’t know what things are being said, or what gossipy stuff is going on. My life is much happier when I ignore that. As for other people, that’s their choice. If they want to embrace that, then they’re going to sacrifice enjoyment in the movies. I really believe that. But, it’s their choice, if that’s what they love looking at. I don’t get it, but it is what it is.
By Christina Radish.