In 10 years, Welsh actor Christian Bale has gone from former child star turned American Psycho cult icon to bona fide Hollywood A-lister. He secured his place in Hollywood with roles in American Psycho directorChristopher Nolan’s Batman films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Now the 36 year-old seeks to further be synonymous with Hollywood with a role as Dickie Eklund in the boxing drama The Fighter. Bale first talked about how he and director David O. Russell shaped the character of Dickie.
“There were a couple of times I had to physically restrain Dickie from going and landing one right on David,” Christian claims, “ We had some initial interesting times when we were rehearsing in Mark’s house, where Mark very nicely put up Micky and Dickie, and actually they lived at his house for some time. And there were some script changes going on, and Dickie wasn’t initially totally understanding that sometimes in putting a whole life into two hours, a little bit of license has to be taken and mixing things up. He wanted everything initially to be absolutely how it was portrayed. And if it wasn’t, there was a couple of times he would say, ‘I’m gonna go and I’m gonna get him,’ and you know, and that’s just something coming from a pro boxer.”
“So there’s a couple of times I’d be going, “No, no, no,’” he continues, “And then we’d talk and David would talk with him and I’m not sure if you ever had to stop him from coming and laying one on me, you know? That could well have happened as well. But it was interesting. It was an interesting time. But he actually came around, and you know, seemed to really understand it. And you know, after we showed him the movie, he didn’t punch any of us. And I talk to him almost daily. You know, so I think that’s a great achievement, to make the story of someone’s life and do that with.”
Christian revealed how he had to lose a lot of weight to play Dickie.
“I felt so good and calm,” Bale says, “And with playing Dickie, and I was just running like crazy. I could just run for hours on end and I felt really healthy, you know. And you know, I don’t know. Usually I always say, ‘Oh, I do a lot of coke whenever I lose weight.’”
“I’m not sure if it’s so funny for this movie, to say that,” he adds, “But there’s not a whole lot of secrets to it. But one really good thing is to have this particular water, Aqua Hydrate, I found that helps to lose weight, immensely, and run a lot.”
Bale also gave us his take on Dickie and whether or not he feels he’s a good influence on his brother, boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg.
“I think that he was an absolute source of inspiration initially,” he feels, “ And then I think he probably became an absolute confusion for his younger brother, because it’s an immensely loyal family and they’re immensely loyal brothers. But you know, as you see in the movie, it took Charlene (played byAmy Adams) to convince Micky that it wasn’t him abandoning his family to be able to remove himself for a little while, in order to change the dynamics. And then once that had been recognized and once Dickie, who also I think had had immense pressure from the family in the expectations they had of him at such a young age, and that through his success, the whole family would have success. “
“And really, I think very much that’s a part as well of what was drawing him to self-destruction,” Christian continues, “Once Dickie was able to initiate and say, it’s no longer his time, it’s Micky’s time now, and then convince the rest of the family of that, which took some doing, then after that, Dickie was no end of help for Micky. I don’t think that it could have happened without the one or the other. You know, this movie wouldn’t exist without that beautiful relationship between the two brothers.”
One of the key ingredients to doing a Boston-based movie proper is getting the accents right. Christian, who is Welsh, was asked how he made sure he sounded Bostonian enough.
“Mark was a great deal of help,” he says, “In just that he would never say anything but he’d just get a certain look on his face when you said something, that you just knew that wasn’t it. You know. But also, I approached Dickie’s accent as he got his own thing going on, you know.”
“He’s got, he calls it Dickinese, himself,” Bale adds, “And I think everyone will agree that I really had to tone down his natural rhythm and voice because I understand him completely now because my ears are in with it. But if I’d done it exactly like Dickie, we would have needed subtitles, probably.”
Bale also shared what he felt made David O. Russell the most suitable director for The Fighter.
“I think also a lot of the other people, they would overemphasize you know the druggie nature, the addiction, as though that was something fascinating to see,” he says, “And we felt like we’ve seen that in so many movies, and you don’t meet Dickie and Micky and it’s not what you think about. Of course it’s part of his past, but you didn’t want to obsess on that. And David’s got this great sort of tandem earnestness and complete silliness going on at the same time, which was perfect for it. And also, like David’s got a very big heart. It would be very funny. There’d be times when he was often crying with laughter, and also just flat out crying.”
“They’d often be that, at Mark’s place,” Christian adds, “And you’d be listening to stories or telling a story, or listening to Dickie or whatever, listening to Micky. And it was, it was either they had his sides splitting with laughter and he was balling his eyes out with that; and then it would segue into tragedy, and he’d be balling his eyes out. Like you could really see how much he felt it and really enjoyed the company of these guys and was going through a whole rollercoaster of emotions, you know, which is usually what actors are going to be doing. But David was right in there, feeling every little bit of it, as much as any of us.”
By Dan Deevy.