Thursday, July 28, 2005

Christian Bale: Talks About the Machinist & Batman (Q & A)


I transcribed this interview back when Christian Bale was in town to support The Machinist. In this, dude touches on getting skeletal for the one role as well as the (then) upcoming Batman flick too... I never got a chance to use any of this Q & A for anything myself...so I'll put it here...



Q: Did you freak anybody out with that weight loss. Did you seek any tips on how to do it the way you did?

Christian Bale: Just the nutritionist, whom I just visited one time, beforehand, just to inquire about kinetic thought, probably I would become deficient, in terms of vitamins and minerals and everything, so I got those pills. And after that, I just kind of, was my own guide about how I felt. I just figure that as long as I was feeling okay, then, I must be okay.

Q: Was there ever any worry that you could do any lasting damage to yourself by trying to pull this off? Other actors have hurt themselves, Matt Damon got some liver damage -- you ever think about anything like that?

CB: I had, what could be called kind of stupid, feeling of invincibility -- like oh, you know, I can do it. I can manage it-- and I certainly did feel like if I was going to do this the one time that I could. That I would, for a certain time [??] for anything. But also, kind of the novelty of it. Because, for me there was the challenge of was I able to do it. Was it possible? You know, I managed it moreso than I expected , I feel that I proved that point to myself; that I could do it. But I didn't actually [start to] feel bad until I started eating again. It was when I started putting the weight back on, that I did it somewhat too rapidly, and apparently had the cholesterol level of a 90 year-old man and had have to really begin getting fit, eating properly - because I gorged too much. I didn't take the advice of everybody, which was: take it slow. You know, putting the weight back on I just wanted to consume pizza and donuts...

Q: How did it feel? What did you eat?

CB: Initially, the first things were just - it was apples. That was what I really loved which doesn't sound that intriguing but was what I really loved, not the most indulgent food that you could be craving perhaps after that amount of deprivation. But for some reason it was. I'd literally dream about mountains of apples [laughs] All of the time it was apples -- there were trays of Spanish apples and the crew would bring me apples and, you know, I was "the Apple Man." [laughs]

Q: Were you pissed off while losing all the weight? I could imagine that it couldn't have felt that great. Spain has some of the greatest restaraunts in the world...

CB: Yeah, yeah. I went to them as soon as we finished. I stayed for a week, just to because -- I had to. Once I'd been there, I'd read about all these different restaraunts [laughs] and by the time we were leaving I had a notebook and I had restaraunts' addresses; the best dishes in each restaraunt because I just wanted to go around systematically and eat everything that I missed out on that anybody had mentioned that was good in any place which I did. My wife and I went from - it was breakfast, lunch, dinner [and] everything in between as well. I would get tempermental at times at the beginning of dieting, when you're still not...before I realized that I really had to change my entire life and, kind of, social life. Whilst I was trying to pursue that, I would get very annoyed because you really felt how much you were missing out. Because you were seeing friends drinking and eating and you suddenly realize just how dependent you are on that. To socialize with everybody and [meanwhile] you're just standing or sitting there -- you just feel like you're no fun. You know, you're not taking part anymore, in anything that's supposed to be pleasurable. So those times would be annoying and when my stomach had not really adjusted yet...it was just groaning and you would feel weak from not eating but you get to a point where you do get past that. And you've gotten so accustomed to a real minimum of intake. And at that point I really did feel like I hit this, kind of, point of enlightenment, you know, mentally. I could understand very much why you hear about monks fasting, etc. for enlightenment. It changes your mental outlook completely and I found myself almost unable to become angry or frustrated at almost anything. Perhaps because I didn't feel that I had the energy to be able to do that - but I was a very happy person during that period. Although people probably didn't see me smiling too much because I was like, "Ahh, I don't want to waste the energy." [laughs]...I was smiling a great deal.

Q: Where you living alone in that time or...?

CB: No, I was living with my wife the entire time. Out here [L.A.] for the initial four months of prep and then in a hotel in Barcelona.

Q: ...and was she was going...??? [what in the hell are you doing to yourself?]

CB: Well, she - I kept saying to her, "Look, you can't follow me on this." You know, it's just nothing to do with what you have to do. This is my choice and I don't want to make you feel like you can't enjoy yourself. But, bless her, she still couldn't feel right about eating in front of me. I would occasionally catch her out in the back yard chomping food [laughtes] and acting like it hadn't happened. And then I would actually have to try to convince her to have dinner right in front of me. But she felt pretty guilty.

Q: Looking at the movie, was the sacrifice worth it?

CB: I feel that it was, just as long as I don't ever find that there's been any permanent [bodily] damage because then I would really, really kick myself for it because at that point it would've just become stupidity and it certainly wouldn't be worth it. But I feel fine. And so right now I do feel like it was worth it. And I feel that it also was an endeavor that I wanted to see for myself, beyond the movie itself. I kind of just wanted to see if I could present myself a challenge and achieve it. You know, and have the mental discipline not to waiver from it. And the way that I thought of it was, this was actually just eight weeks of filming. I've got the preparation beforehand but I've had many six months of my life where I almost can't remember nothing particularly that I did during that time, you know? It's fairly unremarkable, so I felt, "well if it's just six months, why not really do something that defines that time?" And it would've been ridiculous had it just been for a movie that didn't seem that it was worth it. That it was essential for playing this part. And I do think that it's turned out exactly as I really hoped that it would. I think that everybody involved did a fantastic job with it. And I understand a number of people, a number of people have said, "Well if you're thinking of a mainstream movie, you're not going to get a lot of people to go and see it. So why'd you do it?" Well, you know, it's not for that. For me a movie doesn't become better just because a lot of people go and see it at all. And my primary satisfaction for making movies is actually in the making of the movie, you know? So, in those terms, absolutely. I feel that it was worth it.

Q: Would you do it again?

CB: I'd be very cautious about doing it again. Firstly because I got no plans on being "the guy that loves losing a lot of weight." Only if it was for something that -- I would never do it to that extreme because I just can't imagine something that would be necessary to do it to that extreme again and also, I feel, by that point that -- it's very weird trying to make it into a "gimmick." And if you do it for a second time, then maybe it can't but be seen as kind of a gimmick. But some parts do require a physical transformation. Some don't but I think that this one really did. But I really wouldn't want to do it any time soon, certainly. And I think the second time around, I would be much more cautious just about any bodily damage that I might be inflicting on myself.

Q: How much research did you do for the transformation?

CB: I got a number of videos I looked at and -- Insomina [By Stephen King] I watched. I was still here in Los Angeles. I just stayed up for as many nights as I could, just to see what it made me do, that sort of thing.

Q: How did you feel?

CB: Oh, I felt just awful - I love my sleep. [laughs] Just few nights, but you get a sense of it. But it actually became a different thing after losing the weight. Because I found that even though I was in a state of almost being on the verge of sleep, right throughout the day, that actually falling asleep, was very difficult. I just couldn't really do it. I was just couldn't do it. I would lay there for hours with my eyes closed or staring at the cieling and that was, kind of, how I rested. But many nights I would sleep no more than 2 hours whilst we were shooting. I'd sit there in bed but I just couldn't sleep, so I'd just stare at the wall or reading a book or something. I didn't need a whole lot to keep me entertained at the time. I could just basically sit for hours basically doing nothing. [laughter] And that was often what I did during the night time but it wasn't -- except for some scenes which I really detested having to do, where I had to run in the movie. You know, it was okay that I looked exhausted the next day or whatever. I kind of hit a constant level of energy, or rather lack of energy, so that it really wasn't any "ups or downs" it was just a constant level of "I'm here. I'll do it in my own time, thank you very much and when I'm there I'll be there and that's it. So it wasn't like I was really doing tremendously tiring endeavors during the day to make me need to collapse at the end of the day.

Q: ...So...How did it affect your...romantic life?

CB: What romantic life? [laughs] Who was I involved with? My wife...It was a good insight, I thought, for her as to what my ass was going to look like when I'm 90. [laughs]

Q: Did you find it difficult to let go of that character? Especially when you're staring at this emaciated person...did you find it hard to let go of that person emotionally?

CB: You let go of the emotional burden of the character, the paranoia etc. I let go of all that quite easily. It was truly the physical aspects that dictated my mental state that remained with me for quite some time.

Q: You mentioned that a lot of people who see the movie might not put a lot of value into movie-going. What would you like your audience [coming to see this movie] to know?

CB: What to know beforehand? I mean, ideally, I'd like to tell them nothing because I love going to movies when I know absolutely nothing about them whatsoever and to be completely surprised by them. I understand that, obviously, we have to try and entice an interest -- perhaps that...For me, I don't know if this means anything to anybody else, but it's, for my experience, quite rare that there's a group of film makers who absolutely are making a movie solely for their own viewing pleasure. We all want to watch things for masturbatory exercises, you know the indulgences, you know this is how we want to work. This is what we want to see. And, thankfully, working with a production company that absolutely put no demands on Brad or myself, or anybody whatsoever, just said "whatever, you guys just make exactly the kind of movie that you want to make" and that doesn't happen that often. I mean to varying degrees, you usually have some outside influences that you may have to bow to to a degree to make beforehand and that could have happened here with The Machinist. Because we were offered financing from other companies but they all had demands, there were "changes that must be made to the script." I think that just the dark [-ness] and, what some might think, the pointlessness of it [laughter], as in the traditional, "hey we want a 'pick-me-up' somewhere in there along the line." But I think for me, the "pick-me-up" in that is there is already present because I find it very humorous as well, this movie. I know that not everybody necessarily shares my sense of humor...

Q: You've been acting since you were a young kid. Have you been able to keep a sense of annonymity the whole time that you've grown up?

CB: I think that I was struck by losing it very quickly after, in a very small scale, just in general being in school. I didn't enjoy that...I didn't try to avoid it. However, I do kind of dream of the day when it may be possible that movies can be made and no interviews be necessary whatsoever purely because of that wonderful feeling when you see an actor, that you've never seen before in a movie, and so you can do nothing but believe in their character. I understand, of course, that we don't make the movie to just put away on a shelf and get dusty. We want people to go see it and I feel a great loyalty to film makers that I'm working with. But, generally, the actor becomes the point man, when it comes to the publicity for the movie. I'm getting more accustomed to it, but I can't say that...I have a lot of trepidation about any potential changes to my life with Batman coming up. I'll kick and scream against it if, indeed, it does change it in any way...just, you know...it's not the kind of life I'd want to lead at all.

Q: You have a cult following on the Internet. What is it, you think, that makes people have that cult [-ish] interest in you?

CB: I don't know. I think that, unfortunately, that that internet thing kind of went awry. I had nothing to do with it. The original intent of it was that I really wanted to attempt to be an actor who could work - but without ever having to do interviews, right? It hasn't worked. [laughs] It seemed like a possible option. A way of doing something. Giving away some information about me, etc., so that I wouldn't have to do interviews. But unfortunately, I never monitored it very much...

Q: I don't understand. What really happened? Did you create your own Website or something?

CB: No, I didn't -- somebody else did. They said to me, "Look, this is a way that you could potentially be able to get information -- in terms of what you need people to know that you have movies coming out, etc. -- so you know, without having to do interviews which, at a certain time in my life I had "phobias" about, and it just didn't work out. And...I think that there's certain kinds of movies that I have chosen to do...and I see it more as movies having cult followings than, rather, myself having these "cult followings." Because I've done different kinds of movies and you can't just look at someone in like Reign of Fire [sp?] and say like "yeah, that one's going to have a cult following" or "Batman is going to be BIG" as picture, yeah, certainly, sure but if you look at Velvet Goldmine or American Psycho or lesser known movies like All the Little Animals, you know, they tended to amass a small, but very much appreciative, crowd of people. I imagine that The Machinist will probably amass that same kind of feeling in audiences... I think that it's, inevitably, not going to be everybody's cup of tea by any stretch of the imagination. But I do hope that the people who do appreciate it really appreciate it. I see in myself, in comparison to many movies that I've made [in] which I've been disappointed with and everything is, obviously, a leap of faith -- it grew better...with The Machinist [however] I just adored it. To me, it's really some kind of a classic movie - to me. It'll be interesting to see if anybody actually shares that opinion or not... if they'll have a cult following of me.

Q: Batman is the bigger movie and I was just curious; you think audiences can expect to follow along the lines of the more recent characters [actor's interpretations of the character] of him? You know what everyone else said about Spiderman 2 as far as character and action?

CB: Right, I haven't seen that but yes, we're doing the "pre-quel," really. So it's really looking at Bruce Wayne and how he came to invent and carry this character and how he got to be this nutcase who runs around dressed as a bat [laughs]

Q: Can you talk about stepping into the costume and cape? Does it feel cool? Or did you walk around grumpy all the time?

CB: The first couple of times it was great because it really helps you to get how to play it [the role] because, to me, I always had a question about...I found it kind of laughable [that] this guy thinks he's going to be scary by walking around dressed as a bat? I'd laugh at it [in reality], you know? I'd be like: "what kind of nutcase are you? Get out of my face!" And so I really thought, "okay, how could you really take that to a point where he has to sincerely have this rage and this focus on this dispising of criminals and this promise that he makes to his parents to rid the city of them [the crooks]" And, in a way, I saw it as how it's really difficult in life to make a promise to yourself and then really keep that clarity of thought that you may have had in that lucid moment of making that promise and keeping [it] and maintaining that intensity and actually adopting this different persona that helps him to maintain that kind of intensity...and in donning the suit and everthing, I also felt that he couldn't be anything else but a creature. You know, that I no longer wanted to present this as "Bruce Wayne dressed as a bat," that he becomes a different creature himself. Partly out of necessity of disguise but also out of his own necessity of an attempt to keep himself sane in his own life. So it really helped, with me I just felt once I put that on, that "if I don't play it this one certain way, then I'm just going to feel like an idiot standing in a Bat-suit the whole time. [laughs]

Q: So you really feel like you've brought something fresh to the character?

CB: "I" do, [laughs] so often you hear actors saying that and you're like "Ohh! I want to go check that out" and then you look at it and you go, "what did you really do? Is there really anything different there?" So, I do feel that and we'll have to wait and see if I managed it, you know? If I didn't, then there'll be somebody else in there for Number 2 if it ever happens.

Q: Do you listen to, read or listen to music or something like that to get into the type of character in The Machinist?

CB: Yeah, actually I do find music to be very helpful. As well as having this picture of Hank Williams which was always my motivation of physically where I wanted to get to - a very deteriorated picture of him that I have. But I also did enjoy listening to his music as well at the same time that we were filming. Neil Young's stuff as well, I liked a great deal too. And then also there's this other group called Global Communications - this group is fantastic; kind of a trance-like music which I felt really fit...

Q: Will we ever see your musical roots come forth in a film?

CB: You know what? I don't like musicals very much, really. I wanted to try that one and I swore that I will never do it again but I'm not so sure. I just hate the idea of ever becoming predictable to myself and [in] the things I want to try and attempt. And, certainly, if there was some fresh take on a musical, that I felt would be an interesting endeavor and a challenge to try, then yeah I definitely would or could.

Q: What kind of genre?

CB: I didn't get it. I wanted to try it to see if I could get it, you know? I didn't. It didn't happen for me. I could see other people getting it and I thought, "yeah, I really see that they can enjoy that." But it didn't happen for me, really. I look back on it and I enjoy watching that movie but, purely like a trip down memory lane kind of thing...

Q: You have any projects lined up for after Batman?

CB: I'm doing a movie right now, that I just started, called New World which is with my favorite director, ever, who is Terrence Malick. And then I have something planned for December, if Terry ever manages to finish this movie on time [laughs] which is a fantastic script that I actually read a couple of years back. I met with the writer and the director, which at that time it was pretty much said that "it was impossible to be made with me." Which now is possible but is going to be with a $1 million budget, most likely shot on video and done in 20 days [after] coming off Batman, which was like seven months and however much the budget was -- something like $200 million...it's really such an interesting piece. What I really want to avoid is being in a movie like Batman and then feeling like "I have to continue doing big movies." Like somehow that's the mark that my career's still going well. I want to be able to make small movies that wouldn't usually be able to get made or see the light of day. But hopefully, hopefully...because they're not done yet...I mean you can get excited about a lot of movies. Who knows? Batman might BOMB like crazy and I can't get anything made. [laughs] But hopefully things will go well and I will be able to get other things made that never would have [been] before.

Q: What were the differences [on set] being in Barcelona and then in Iceland?

CB: Cold. [laughs] And they eat whale meat - a whole different kind of diet! They eat anything. It was beautiful architecturally, the people were very friendly and everything being about socializing in Barcelona. In Iceland we were in a little hotel that was just miles away, there was just nothing. I mean we'd go running and running and there was nothing! But there were these incredible glaciers. It's an amazing country, the actual structure; the mountains, the sea and how rough the whole place [terrain] is and these really beautiful glaciers which had this incredibly blue coloring to them that we were filming on. And also, it seems, the very first day we actually had to rush ahead to start filming because a lake that we needed to be frozen suddenly, one day, was frozen over. And so we had to get out there and run around on it and we were out there and it was splitting while we were on it. As we were on it, there'd be big cracks and we'd all have to stand right next to it and then the next day it was all water again, you know? So it was a very nice, enjoyable beginning to Batman because it was something very different from what I think of, traditionally, when you're making a movie like that...


***italics were not mine...dude's very emphatic when he's conversating...Laters...

1 Comments:

Blogger A Sheltered Town said...

And Christian Bale keeps my heart beating.

11:41 PM, July 29, 2005  

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