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Christian Bale Discusses "Batman Begins"

Bale on the Serious Tone of "Batman Begins" and Getting Into the Role


Christian Bale in Batman Begins

Christian Bale as Batman in "Batman Begins"

© Warner Bros. Pictures
"Batman Begins" and Christian Bale: It was actually the fact that Christian Bale was cast as Batman that sparked my interest in giving “Batman Begins” a chance. The actor nailed performances in "Velvet Goldmine," "American Psycho," and "The Machinist" and can make even a mediocre movie watchable. Even if “Batman Begins” ended up being no better than “Batman and Robin,” at least Bale could be counted on to deliver a convincing performance.

After seeing this movie, I realized “Batman Begins” shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as “Batman and Robin.” This is a serious look at a man who is tormented by the death of his parents. Bale and director Christopher Nolan serve up a movie that even non-comic book fans like myself are sure to embrace. This has depth, realism, and just the tiniest bit of humor. The “Batman” franchise is back and Bale is perfect in the role.

Christian Bale on the Serious Tone of "Batman Begins:" “I think that that was what Bob Kane intended when he first created the character. I spoke with his wife and she said that he was kind of appalled at the TV series. That it was spoofing what he had intended. And you know then you got the great revival when Frank Miller did ‘Batman Year One’ and you got Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale and everybody else and the art work of Alex Ross and people.

To me if you’re gonna make ‘Batman,’ you really have to really pick a side and either really send it up the way that Adam West did it, because a man running around in a bat suit can be a very funny thing, or really take it seriously and delve into the demons, you know, of this character etcetera. I think that the other movies kind of went in-between. You know what I mean? You had like these little one liner quips and things, and I always got a sense that it was just Bruce Wayne in a bat suit rather than becoming this other creature that kind of came out of his dark guts, you know, whenever he put on the suit. And in a way kind of a demonic therapy that he needed just to channel his rage in order to be able to exist in everyday life as Bruce Wayne without becoming a complete nut case.”

Christian Bale on Getting Into Fighting Shape for “Batman Begins: “It was excessive because of [‘The Machinist’]. It was much harder because of that. I spoke with Chris [Nolan] whilst I was making ‘The Machinist’ and he said I was gonna need to screen test for ‘Batman’ at the beginning of September, and this was like at the end of July. I was like 121 pounds and he said, ‘Well, can you put on any weight in that amount of time because nobody’s gonna be convinced by me telling them that you’re gonna be the next Batman, you know, if you’re like a toothpick?’ And so I did have to put on a great deal of weight in that short amount of time.

Then once they cast me, that’s when the real effort started just because that’s was when I actually had to start getting strong because he’s got no super powers. You have to look like you can be a brawler. He has no super powers and so he has to look like he really can do what you see him doing. And it was very… It was cutting it very fine, you know? I kind of just got ready in time for the beginning of the film.”

”Batman Begins” vs. “The Machinist” – The More Physically Taxing of the Two: Bale normally weighs around 185 and dropped down to 121 for “The Machinist.” He then went all the way up to 220 when that finished in order to get ready for “Batman Begins.” By the time shooting began, Bale’s weight hovered around 190. All of this occurred over a period of five months.

“I think that ‘The Machinist’ whilst it was more demanding mentally to start with, ultimately once you get accustomed to change and then the losing weight it was much calmer and a more comforting place mentally. I think the gaining weight fast is really the unhealthy thing, that was. I did actually feel hideous during that time and that’s what I wouldn’t repeat again. I felt absolutely fine in losing the weight. It was putting the weight on too fast that I felt that I was pushing things too far.”

Accepting a British Guy as Batman: “Yeah, he’s a very American icon, but you know he’s globally embraced. You know what? I’ve got no idea about that. I mean I live in the States now and I’m an actor, you know, I’m gonna be a shape shifter. So, I mean, who knows?”

Losing the Accent for “Batman Begins” Interviews: I expected Bale to speak with his normal accent in interviews but he didn’t and that caught a lot of journalists – myself included – by surprise. “I just finished doing another movie which I had to have an American accent for and I just made a decision, actually very much based on what you just said, that it’s just too weird having a guy playing Batman speaking in a British accent, you know, for interviews. For Batman interviews I’ll stick to this.”

PAGE 2: Bale on Handling the Pressure and the Ongoing Fascination with Batman

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