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Batman Begins - Christian Bale interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Excerpts taken from the London press conference held at The Dorchester Hotel

Q. A lot’s been made of how tough it is to act in a batsuit. But just how difficult is it to… to move and act in… in that suit?
A.
I think I probably had the easiest time of any actor that’s played the role - well, probably apart from Adam West – that looked like a pretty flimsy outfit he had there.
Lindy Hemmings and the other designers came up with the lightest weight batsuit so far and with the most mobility as well.
I don’t know if people noticed but our Batman was actually able to turn his head which has never been done before. Everyone’s always been very robotic. And yeah, you know, it’s hot and it’s sweaty and it gives you a headache and everything like that. But I didn’t complain about it; I’m getting to play Batman.

Q. I think this is the first time that it hasn't felt as though Batman has been a guest star in his own movie. You know, the villains have always been more charismatic than Batman. That presumably was the attraction to you in doing this?
A.
I felt similarly that I’d never actually realised, from seeing the other movies, just how interesting Batman was, because I was so fascinated with the villains that, in many ways, it felt like treading water when Batman arrived.
It wasn’t until reading the Graphic novels and the first one I read of that - because I’m not a comic book fan - was in 2000 and that was when I was really surprised at just how interesting the character of Batman could be and wasn't sure why that had never been seen in a feature film.

Q. How hard was it for you to get back to physical fitness again after the extreme weight loss that you endured for The Machinist? Did any of the scenes have to be postponed until you were physically fit and able to do them again?
A.
I don’t believe that we had to postpone anything unless these guys weren’t telling me anything, but I think my heart was wondering what the hell was going on.
It was a great deal of weight that I did have to put on, but it was something necessary for the character.
You know, he has no superpowers whatsoever so you have to really believe that he’s capable of it, and I think probably I kind of knew that I’d be able to do it.
I think probably Chris [Nolan] was worrying far more than me, because we were speaking. I spoke to him one time on the telephone while we were doing The Machinist and he did say to me, 'well, you know, how you looking these days?' And it was frankly pathetic.
It was 121 pounds and I couldn't do a single push-up! 'Mm, maybe not the guy you want to cast as Batman, you know, but we had enough time.
It was a pretty arduous journey to get there, but my feeling was that I kind of just managed to get into appropriate shape by the time we started filming.
In fact, I went way too big. There were some 'Fatman' comments made at me when I first arrived on the set, yeah.

Q. Did you have any preconceptions about what a comic book movie would be - because for a long time people thought they were the kind of poor relation to Hollywood movies; lots of money spent, but not a lot of character?
A.
I think that we’d seen what a comic book movie could be with the last two Batman movies, you know, and very definitely we were trying to create something completely different.
I like to think of this as being a graphic novel based movie, much more than a comic book.
But more than that, I think Chris [Nolan] took it beyond the realm of the graphic novels, so it’s able to be a finely made movie just in itself.

Q. Batman channels some of the anger that he feels for what happened to him as a child. You had a fairly nomadic life as a child, so I wonder if that helped drive your anger here?
A.
Having a nomadic childhood certainly helps with doing this job, you know, living in a different place for every single job and I kind of need that because that is a normalcy for me.
But as for any correlation between whatever anger I felt as a child, I don’t think there’s a person alive that doesn’t have some kind of anger stemming from their childhood. But I can’t say that I ever really consider my own history when I’m playing and creating a different character.

Q. How was it to act with such great actors as Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, who are really among the greatest in the business?
A.
Well, it was fantastic getting to work with Michael, Morgan, Gary and Liam. It was a wonderful thing to see that this calibre of actor was interested in the movie and showed a great recognition that, you know, here we had a good filmmaker who they knew they could trust and who was going to be making an original and smart movie.
Also, this is a great story, which I think is really essential to remember, because that gets forgotten a lot in large movies with lots of special effects and explosions and everything. Often storyline goes out of the window and I think that with Chris [Nolan] that never happened at all.

Q. Will you be back for the sequel? And if you’re to prepared to commit on that, where do you see the character progressing beyond the parameters of this film?
A.
I’m signed up for the next one. But it is certainly something that I’m more than happy to be back for if people embrace this movie and enjoy the style, and my portrayal of Batman.
I think it’s kind of limitless with this superhero, unlike others, because he is so contradictory, he is so complex, he has so many demons and issues.
I think that there are many things that can be done further but there would be no point in making a sequel if there was not going to be anything new, you know?
I don’t think it would make any sense to suddenly return to what we’ve seen in the past, where suddenly Batman is sidelined and the villains are the interesting ones again.
We’ve established that Batman is just as interesting and, in my mind, a more interesting character than the majority of the villains, so I would hope that would continue.

Q. How did you do the Batman voice? Did you just lower your voice or did you get technical help, like Dart Vader?
A.
When we were filming it was just my voice and we had a gentleman there who was kind of helping me out, so that I could speak the next day. And then we did try a few different things in ADR.
My understanding is that a couple of those things did work and Chris, I believe, used some effects on a couple of occasions. But, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure where they were.
Chrisopher Nolan: Basically, the voice Christian did in production was very powerful and we found that when any attempt was made to over-manipulate it, it became very obvious and didn't really work. But the truth is, I think that there is a degree of performance that, frankly, just being in the suit and adopting the character onset, lends the voice that’s incredibly impressive. So we wound up using that very much as the basis of it.

Q. Do you have special fears or phobias – bats, for example?
A.
I was a bit of an odd kid actually; I liked scary movies; they were certainly my favourite kinds of movies and I enjoyed going walking in the woods at night time and walking down dark alleyways and things, just to purposely get the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I always kind of enjoyed toying with my own fears.

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