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Christian Bale Talks About "The Prestige"

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Christian Bale Talks About

Christian Bale stars in "The Prestige."

© Touchstone Pictures

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The Tricks of The Prestige: Magicians Ricky Jay and Michael Weber consulted on the film and taught Bale and Jackman how to do a couple of tricks. “They were stunning beyond belief,” Bale said of working with Jay and Weber. “Like I said, to me it’s the mechanics - the slight of hand - that I was so impressed with. And, just the fluidity. They are doing it like they are just sitting down and having breakfast. This is disappearing and this is coming out of here and they are pulling that there. We are sitting in an office with florescent lighting and he’s got no sleeves and they are telling me, ‘I’m about to do this to you.’ ‘No you’re not,’ and then he does it. Truly incredible.

What I like very much there is that this is a lifetime obsession for them. I went around to their houses and stuff, and it is what they live and breathe, night and day. I admire that when you find somebody who has such an all-engaging obsession. I just like that. You just know this has been not hours, not days, but years of practice to get as good as they are. I liked very much the integrity in the way they do their craft, in doing like a little riffle into a hat.

They were proper magicians. If they were going to be our advisors, I was going to bloody learn how to do it properly and do it all in the correct way, and I liked that.”

The Central Theme – Rivalry Between Magicians: Bale and Jackman play rival magicians jealous over the other’s popularity and success, but there’s also an underlying theme of rivalry between classes. Bale’s Borden is a working-class man while Jackman’s Angier comes from a wealthy family. “It’s England so there is going to be class rivalry, absolutely,” said Bale. “And how tricky it is to move so called ‘up’ in classes. That’s very, very tricky. I think it’s something Americans don’t understand much. But coming from England and absolutely understanding that and seeing that… America, of course there are an awful lot of problems as well, but it is much more based on merit. If you do it, you can get given a chance. And it’s not that – especially if you go back a 100 years in England. You know your place. That’s it. Do not try to get above your station at all. So, I’m sure yeah, there is a certain amount of annoyance from Borden’s part about Angier. He keeps that hidden, Angier, his actual resources and where he comes from.”

Bale added, “More for me, the rivalry I was focusing on more was the knowledge of a more brilliant magician, that a more brilliant showman was being considered the better talent. And [my character’s] hatred of having to sell yourself in that way in order for people to understand, a character that doesn’t understand why people can’t see what he is doing. He is by far the best magician.”

Working with Hugh Jackman: “We’re friendly. It was kind of really good casting. I don’t know if Chris knew it ahead of time, just in terms of our various approaches. It was really interesting because both of us absolutely sided with our characters. We’d sit and we’d talk about a scene before doing it. For me, it was very clear that my character necessarily had the substance and was really talking the truth, and his character was really talking a lot of crap. It was all this superficial nonsense. And he would kind of look at me and go, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ The fact is, you both agree with your characters. You agree with what either was saying, so that was ideal.

It was very nice because Hugh is a fantastic showman. He’s a great singer and dancer. He’s used to the stage and comfortable on the stage. I’ve only done one thing onstage in my life and it is just not what drives me. I’m not as intrigued by theater as I am with film. So, you had just in Hugh and I, one very good natural performer and another who really didn’t know what I was doing up here. ‘I don’t really know how to handle this.’ And again, this is sort of what acting requires. It was ideal for the different roles we were playing.”

Reuniting with Michael Caine: Bale and Caine worked together as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Alfred in Batman Begins, but barely get to share any scenes together in The Prestige. “Obviously, he’s much more of Hugh’s mentor in this one than mine, so we didn’t actually… Most of our scenes is him - we’re a little distant from each other. He’s real great company to have around. He’s a real funny and just good man. I think anybody would enjoy just hanging out with him for the afternoon.”

Speaking of Batman…: Bale’s sworn to secrecy and can’t say much. The one thing he would say without fear of being hunted down and having his tongue removed was this: “Listen, I’m sure we’ll be making it better. We’ve got the confidence now of the people behind us that the idea originally - it really works and people embraced it and liked it. But beyond that, it’s got more secrecy than the NSA.” As for working with Nolan for the third time Bale said, “It’s great. No, he’s one of the best around. He’s out there, yeah.”

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