Wednesday, August 22, 2007

3:10 to Yuma: Christian Bale & Russell Crowe (Q&A)

..I'd be a liar on the wink if I said that Gladiator wasn't one of my favorite movies to come out in the past decade...about a year or so before I started pursuing writing in this town, I recall walking down to the newly opened ArcLight Theater complex across the street from Amoeba records on Sunset to see a matinee of the film when it dropped before that weekend's bum line in the film was uttered by Joaquin Phoenix when he find out that the General of the Felix Legion is not dead and that his soldiers have lied to him: "That vexes me...I'm terribly vexed"...I was the only one who burst out laughing at the "Mel Brooksness" of that line...but whatever, son...

...I was in a roundtable with Maximus and Bat Man when I participated in a press conference with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale yesterday for James Mangold's forthcoming western 3:10 to Yuma...due to the obstreperous, borderline bellicose nature of one of my colleagues, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise but alle ist en butter... eventually, Crowe revealed that he's not the surly, virtriol 'n vegemite, telephone-throwing upstart-from-the-land-down-under with everyone at all times...although he did have to call somebody out for hogging the's what went down...

Q: You playing any music, got any gigs with your band lined up?

Russell Crowe: I think we've got some shows in Jacksonville, FL coming up...looks over to his right: Christian Bale...

Q: When you talk to a lot of actors and ask them why they became actors, they talk about 'wanting to dress up, be in a world of fantasy and all those kinds of reasons. Does doing a movie like this really enforce, in some ways, why you guys got into it?

Christian Bale: Dress up?

Q: ...doing a western, cowboy hats, guns and all that...

RC: That's pretty good, isn't it? And it's a good list...ride horses...ride with guns , speak in a funny voice, you know, wear pointy boots. It's a good list in terms of what you're talking about and you would approach something like this probably thinking "this is going to be a bit of fun." So I actually looked at it and I said "well, I spent this time of year in Arizona making a western [The Quick and the Dead] back in '93-'94 and that was pleasant. Warm during the day, a little cold late at night but I didn't think much of it, I thought it'd be fine. But then I realized, once I'd gotten there, that Santa Fe is actually seven and a half thousand feet above sea level and it was going to be significantly colder. So, you know, Peter Fonda actually decided [on] a scale. He said, one day he made a stand, he said that he couldn't act on location, in period costume at below 13 degrees and I think [the Screen Actor's Guild] should look into this and I think there should be a scale done. [laughs] And I think there should be certain temperatures, you know, for example [pointing to Bale] where you [can] wear a cape and stuff, and a rubber suit and certain temperatures where you shouldn't.

Q: You ride horses a lot in real life back back home, do you bring a lot of passion into a project like this when you're shooting.

RC: Yeah, I mean I really enjoy the thought of the story. The main thing is reading the script and seeing the dynamic of the character and on [3:10 to Yuma] it seemed like playing the character was going to be fun, so that's why I do it.

Q: So what appealed to you about the time period?

RC: That it was a short shoot. [laughs]

Q: No, the setting, the time period that the story was set in.

RC: Oh! I'll leave that up to you, Christian.

CB: I think it that period of all westerns. It being that period of almost anarchy compared to nowadays. You know, when a man really did have to be self-sufficient. And I think that nowadays we can get away with being very vague about having opinions about things, beliefs in something-- you can kind of get away with being vague about it because there's not that much that seems to directly affect our lives. At that time, you had to be a much stronger-minded individual in order to survive. I find that appealing, to watch people who test their mettle everyday.

Q: Are you very selective when picking a role? What are your criterion for doing so?

RC: It's the same as it's always been: "what's the story? What's the character?" That's my finite focus when I read a script. I don't think that I've become more selective over time, I think I came into it being selective, you know? I just do things that appeal to me. And they're not going to always be the sort of things that the head of a studio thinks will appeal as well.

Q: How do you define what is a good character, then?

RC: I think it's always been that way, especially in my life and in the movies, you know, you get a lot of opportunities that come with a big paycheck and all that sort of stuff that doesn't necessarily appeal to you. I know a lot of people that are absolutely dead-set certain that this is something that you will love to do and then you start to read it and there's nothing in it that turns you on. You know, I think you've just got to stay true to yourself in that way. [When] I read a script-- if I get goose bumps and I like what the potential of it is then that's the thing that I do.

Q: James Mangold said that Gladiator felt like a western to him with the story's structure. Is that something you agree with?

RC: Well, I supposed it could be considered a western if you were writing your review in Athens. [laughs] Yeah, I don't know, that's probably more of a film making sort of question, really because we didn't really think about it that way at the time. But, you have common ground, there's like, horses and stuff.

Q: Christian, have you been approached to do the new Justice League movie?

RC: -- he was offered the role of the Green Lantern but there's no cape, so-- no fucking way. If I don't get that cape, then I won't be doing your movie! [laughs]

Q: How do you think that would go, if they recast the character of Batman?

CB: As far as that goes, you know, as long as it doesn't tread on the toes of what we're doing, then it's alright. But I think we'd better figure out what we'd start before we start shooting the third one.

Q: The relationship that you two have on screen is sort of a friendship but it's based on hate--

RC: it'd be a "hate-ship", then? [laughs] ...a "dislike-ship"...

Q: -- a "dislike-ship"-- is that something that developed behind the scenes?

CB: We didn't do a whole lot of talking about it offscreen. I mean, I tend to feel that if it's working, it's working. We didn't have to sort of sit and dissect the whole thing. I mean, it was pretty evident, it was right there. We both, coming in, knew it was very strong and firm ideas about who we are, so, it was right there. It was self-evident.

RC: It's unfortunate that you get to talk 'till the end there because it wasn't fun to go do it again. Perhaps in a more moderate climate.

Q: [to Russel] Apparently you were the quickest draw on the set, Mangold was saying earlier, where does that come into play...

CB: I was a rifleman...with the pistols, I didn't even bother...

RC: I was really lucky when I came over to do The Quick and the Dead back in '93, that I met this guy Phil Reed, he's an armorer, and, you know, coming from Australia I didn't have any experience with the gun culture [in America], I'd never actually held a hand gun before I was on the set of The Quick and the Dead. So what that guy filled was a complete blank slate, so he could sort of put the information in my head that you need to do that sort of thing. And, over time, and it's been a long time now that I've known Mr. Reed and I've probably done like, maybe half a dozen movies with him and he just keeps giving me the tips. We've actually done silly things like, a long time ago, gone off and done shooting competitions together as a team. But that's a very specific skill, you don't get to use that very often, so it's good when a western comes around.

Q: It's been a great career for you, the first time I met you, you were up and coming and now you're a huge success...

RC: Just for full disclosure, I went and judged a talent contest at a school that [the Australian journo] was a teacher at, of course he was very desperate to have some credibility with the kids. That would've been about '94 or something like that.

Aussie Journo: It was a little later than that, I think...I don't remember now...I also don't appreciate you bringing it up, Russell. Thank you very much.

RC: Oh, I just think that you've been asking all the damn questions in the room for a while...I just think everybody else needs an explanation as to why you've been so dominant in our conversation. [starts laughing]

Q: Christian, do you like being an actor? Is there any other kind of career that you want?

CB: I don't look at any difference between movies [and any other job]...movies are not a business to me. Movies are not a business to me, about where the financing's coming from, it's just about the [telling of] the stories and that's the end of it, you know?

...Rated R, 3:10 to Yuma is in theaters nationwide Friday, September 7th...

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